I cannot tell you how many times I’ve watched the Tour de France and dreamed of one day going there myself. The event is basically a three-week tourism commercial for the entire country of France, and it certainly gets me thinking about my next trip every time. I’m a sucker for nice scenery, especially when it comes to the French Alps and small towns in wine country. One year, I visited just after the race had finished and was amazed to see the small villages were still buzzing about “Le Tour” and littered with memorabilia and remnants of the race. The impact that this cycle race has on the country is incredible, but actually being there as a visitor in July is life changing. Whether you’re a cycling fanatic or just casually interested, it’s an incredibly lively time to experience France.

In my experience, people remember three things about their vacations: the food, the people and the unique experiences. Seeing the racers speed past at an event like Le Tour brings you into the energy and excitement, and let’s you feel like a part of something big. Trips like this live on in your mind for the rest of your life.

It can be a little more complicated and expensive to travel during these times, but if you’re like me and have a bucket list of places you know you want to visit, then you can avoid these issues by planning ahead.

For wine lovers, big events can be an ideal way to time your trip around your passions – you can enjoy an uncommonly memorable vacation while experiencing destination wine regions. Our five-day package to the Rhône Valley and Provence is timed to coincide with Le Tour, and it also includes a visit to Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s Domaine du Pegau (known for its 100-pt wines), Joël Durand’s chocolaterie and St.-Paul-de-Mausole, where Van Gogh spent part of his life. It’s this sort of robust, curated itinerary that makes for incredible trips with friends and loved ones, and gives you bragging rights over any of them who miss out.

Beyond Le Tour, though, there are several other destination events perfect for wine lovers. One that is close to my heart is the America’s Cup. As a kid growing up in New Zealand, sailing and other boating activities were a regular part of my lifestyle. And as San Francisco prepares for worldwide attention as the host of the Cup and preceding Louis Vuitton Cup in August and September of next year, it’s already time to start thinking about your own trip. With the Napa Valley is listed as the “official wine region” of the Cup, one thing is for certain – San Francisco and the Napa Valley will be on everyone’s radar next summer. Start planning your trips now.

But if you’d like to scope out the course early, we’ve managed to snag a private yacht that you can charter (with captain) for four hours of sailing with up to five of your friends on the actual America’s Cup course, on Memorial Day weekend this year during the Golden Gate Anniversary celebrations. You’ll see this on Lot18 on April 10, but for early information feel free to contact me.

If you want to start planning your travel itinerary now, here are some major events on my radar. And if not this year, maybe next!

Grand Prix, MonacoMay 24-27, 2012

French Open, Paris May 27-June 10, 2012

Tour de France, France June 30-July 22, 2012

Summer Olympics, London July 27-Aug. 12, 2012

US Open, New York August – September 2012

Louis Vuitton Cup, San Francisco July 4-Sept. 1, 2013

America’s Cup Finals, San FranciscoSept. 7-22, 2013

Cheers and happy travels!

Mindy

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