They're suddenly going all Napa in French wine country. The Cite du Vin visitors' center in the city of Bordeaux is up and running and looking good, and some chateaux, famous for being closed most of the year, are actually welcoming a few visitors. Now, Beaune has announced that a visitors' center will be built there (a Burgundian friend of mine, on hearing the news, said "But why? We thought WE were the visitors' center!")
It's just starting. Burgundy recently applied for UNESCO World Heritage status (as did Champagne), but was turned down in favor of the ancient cave paintings in the Ardeche (there's only one natural site chosen each year). Both will re-apply next year. And they'll have company: the Conseil des Grands Crus Classes en 1855 is submitting the world-famous--and controversial and, many say, outdated--classification for the same status, though, as a list can't be "natural," it will have to be entered in the "cultural" category. There's no word yet on whether this enshrinement, if it goes through, would make the listing permanent. If it does, though, I may submit a shopping list from the Intermarche near Barfleur in Normandy, which also contains a lot of wine, but honors as well the local fishermen, rabbit ranchers, cheesemakers, fruit and vegetable growers, sausage makers, and bakers--surely a wider cultural, and even natural document.