Saint-Emilion is a city in France

What wine to try in the French town of Saint-Emilion

Deciding to taste French wine, consider visiting Saint-Émilion, in addition to wine tasting, you will get a chance to learn about history, cuisine and culture.

Small French towns have their own special charm. They are like fragments of history frozen in amber, resisting the domination of civilization. St. Emilion once again confirms this rule, preserving over the centuries virtually unchanged. Of course, all the benefits of the modern world are available in the city, but they are modestly hidden, aware of their inadequacy in the face of the thousands of years of St. Emilion’s history.

A look back at history

St. Emilion’s history goes back more than 1,400 years. That’s how many years ago the first mention of this town appeared. Like every human settlement, St. Emilion has a history of its founding. At the heart of the St. Emilion legend is the identity of a certain mysterious hermit who did many good deeds. It is not known whether he actually lived or is an invention, but just in case, he was canonized and canonized as a saint. Thus Emilius was added to the saints, and the town got its name.

However, it was not the hermit saint who made the town famous, but the vineyards and wine-making. It is with them that the entire history of St. Emilion is connected.

Saint-Émilion today

Saint-Émilion is located 40 km. from Bordeaux, a major city in the Gironde department. By the way, it is to the natives of this region that Alexandre Dumas Senior attributed his most famous hero, the Chevalier d’Artagnan. Perhaps Dumas was right. The hot climate, sparkling and tart wines are quite capable of giving birth to such vivid historical characters.

Saint-Emilion is now home to 2,000 residents.

It is safe to say that every Saint-Emilionian is born a skilled winegrower and winemaker. There is no other way to explain the fact that the small town produces about five million bottles of high quality wine every year and has 5000 hectares of fruit-bearing vineyards of different varieties.

The town itself has not changed much over the centuries. To this day the people of Saint-Emilion resist the appearance of modern asphalt and new buildings in their town. Today the town still flaunts cobblestone cobblestones and buildings five hundred years old.

Winegrowing and winemaking

Wine growing is where any essay on Saint-Emilion should begin. Because it’s the main attraction of the town, and the basis of its economy, and the pride of the local people.

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The vineyards cover an area of 50,000 km². This is the territory of a small state, entirely in vine terraces and trellises. Delicacies and table grape varieties, such as Merlot, Cabernet and Cabernet Sauvignon, are grown.

Most of the grape harvest is sent to presses and barrels to be turned into aromatic wines over time. Wine is everywhere in this town: behind every door, window and table. Of course, you don’t drink it. It is tasted, savored and tasted in very small portions. Wine connoisseurs note the distinctive truffle flavour of Saint-Emilion wines, attributed to the special climate in which the grapes grow. However, not everyone likes the truffle flavor. But there is so much to choose from that everyone will find a wine to their liking.

Interesting! After reading numerous articles on the Internet, a tourist who does not know much about wines can order a local Sauternes in a St. Emilion cafe or restaurant. Don’t do that; don’t offend the hospitable hosts. No matter what they write about Sauternes on the Internet, know that St. Emilion does not produce it, because it has no right to do so. The French are so law-abiding that it would never occur to them to circumvent the law. The fact is that Sauternes is made from grapes that have been exposed to a noble mold. Only five communes in all of France consider the mold to be “proper and noble,” and Saint-Emilion is not one of them.

Attractions of Saint-Emilion

In between wine tastings, the traveler will certainly have something to admire in this ancient town.

  1. The XI century rock church carved into the body of the rock.
  2. Tour Du Roy (Royal Tower) on top of St. Emilion hill.
  3. The now defunct cathedral of the Franciscan order.
  4. Also the now defunct Ursuline convent.
  5. Gothic chapel.
  6. Remains of the Cordillera convent.
  7. The city itself, as if descended from Bruegel’s paintings.
  8. City flea market. This is really very interesting, especially for lovers of antiques. The goods at the flea market again, more often than not, have something to do with the wine industry or viticulture.

You can take a tour of vineyards, terroirs, wineries and the wine road. Tour bus ticket for adults costs 12 EUR, for children from 6 to 12 years old – 6 EUR, children under 6 years old ride for free.

Or you can just sit at a cafe table in an old crooked street, sipping from a glass of red or white wine. It all depends on what type of travel you prefer.

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Food and Wine

You definitely won’t starve to death in St. Emilion. And you can eat and taste wine in any appropriate establishment. The cuisine is traditionally French – spit-roasted duck, fat goose, sausages and salads. Poached eggs and croissants for breakfast, good coffee.

A hearty meal will cost 15 EUR per person. Prices are not Parisian. The reason is that in the provinces, and especially in small towns, everything is much cheaper. There are also gourmet restaurants. For example, the restaurant “La Table” is the proud owner of a Michelin star. Accordingly, the prices here are several times higher than in street bistros.

The situation with wine is slightly different. You can taste wine everywhere and absolutely free, if you want. In each of the wine stores you can participate in a free tasting. There are plenty of wine stores in Saint-Emilion. If you want to buy a bottle of wine, on average, it will cost you 15 EUR. Of course, there are also expensive collectible brands. For example, for a bottle of “Chateau Margaux” you will need to pay at least two thousand euros.

For active tourists

If you like to wander around the neighborhoods, you certainly will not be bored in Saint-Émilion. Tourist office of St. Emilion offers quite an extensive program

  • Hiking in the neighborhood with a guide. The cost of a 20-minute walk is 12 EUR per person.
  • Tourist train, knocking the wheels on the narrow gauge. It will take tourists to vineyards and wineries with obligatory stop for tastings. The price for the tour together with tasting is 6 EUR.
  • A summer tour bus without a roof (during the warmer seasons) will take you through the same vineyards and wineries.

The Tourist Office is located at Place des Créneaux 33330 Saint-Emilion France. Call +33 (0)5 57 55 28 28.

How to get to Saint-Emilion

There are no problems with transport in France. As well as with road signs. If you drive your own car, it is better to go from Bordeaux in the direction of Libourgne, and then, following the signs, drive to Saint-Emilion. The whole journey, even with stops, will take you no more than an hour.

You can use a wide range of public transport – buses, cabs, and trains. You can book a transfer at the Saint-Emilion Tourist Office from the city you are in. Either way, you’ll get there quickly and comfortably. That’s what a Saint-Emilion wine journey should be like, though.

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Saint-Emilion

Saint-Emilion is a town in the New Aquitaine region in southwest France. This medieval town with rich tourist potential – every year it is visited by nearly a million people who are attracted by its significant historical and architectural heritage (hermitage, monolithic church, collegiate church, archbishop’s palace, remains of fortifications) and, most importantly, everything associated with wine production. The medieval town (and its “jurisdiction” consisting of the adjacent 8 villages and vineyards) is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a “cultural landscape” for “an exceptional example of a historic wine landscape preserved through the ages”.

Hotels in St. Emilion

How to arrive in St. Emilion

St. Emilion is located near Bordeaux .

By plane

The nearest major international airports are in Bordeaux and Paris.

From Bordeaux and Paris you can get to the city by train and bus.

By train

From Bordeaux by train for 9.50 euros one way (until September 2019 the line passing through Saint-Emilion is under repair. You can go to Libourne station (7 km from Saint-Emilion), and from there to Saint-Emilion by bus).

From Paris – by high-speed train to Bordeaux. Prices – from 40,50 euros.

By bus

From Bordeaux: by bus #302 from the Quinconces Orléans stop. See the route on the map. Bus schedule #302. Bus tickets: €2; round trip one day, €3.60. Children under 4 years of age ride free.

History of St. Emilion

In the 8th century, a monk named Emilion left his native Brittany and went on a pilgrimage along the road of St. James of Compostela. On his return, he chose the village that has since borne his name, Sant Milion in Breton, as his place of further residence. This monk was known for his miracles and kindness and baptized the local population.

The city was rebuilt during the Middle Ages and was often in the way of military operations: it was in the hands of John of No Land, Louis VIII, Philip the Fair… And each time it won privileges from the rulers. The city’s special jurisdiction – the Jurada – was established during the reign of King John of England, who delegated his economic, political and judicial power to the city’s aristocrats and judges. In return, England received preferential treatment in the wine supply. Already in those ancient days, winemaking was strictly regulated by local governments, and the quality of wine was closely monitored. Before being shipped to England, barrels that had passed control were stamped with a special seal.

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The management of the Jurada lasted until the French Revolution in 1789. In 1948, the Jurada was restored in the form of a fraternity, which is now the ambassador of Saint-Emilion wines throughout the world and is involved in the organization of various wine-related festivities, such as the Spring and Harvest festivals. During these events, members of the Jurada parade through the city in their traditional red attire.

What to see and do in Saint-Emilion

A medieval town

Start by walking through the streets of the historic center (le Tertre de la Tente, le Tertre des Vaillants, le Tertre de Cadène, le Tertre de la Porte Saint-Martin), along the city fortifications and through the cobbled squares. The streets of the center are full of restaurants and wine stores.

The town sits on the limestone rocks from which it was built. This fact explains the 200 km of underground tunnels of the quarries where the stone was extracted. It was used not only locally but also in Bordeaux, for example, to build the Grand Theatre.

The dungeons of Saint-Emilion

The underground part of the town is also accessible for viewing. The Hermitage Grotto is the residence of Monk Emilion, the founder of the city. It is a cave arranged in the rock, with furniture said to be of the saint himself – the bed, table and chair are also carved right into the rock out of limestone. In the cave there is a spring of water, which the saint used for baptism. There are many legends associated with the place. For example, the chair is called the “fertility seat,” and women from all over the world come to sit on it to get pregnant.

Behind the church is another dungeon – the catacombs with sarcophagi, dug before 1000. Although the catacombs are now being beautified, they retain a dark and mysterious atmosphere.

Monolithic Church of the Trinity

One of the most important buildings in Saint-Emilion. It is the largest medieval underground church in Europe. The religious building was built in a single block of stone at the end of the 11th and beginning of the 12th century by Benedictine monks. You can climb to the top of the church’s bell tower to look around from the height. The church can only be entered as part of a group on a tour from the St. Emilion Tourist Office.

A few meters from the church, above the Hermitage Grotto, stands the Chapel of the Trinity, built in the 13th century. Inside the building is decorated with frescoes and well-preserved medieval paintings.

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Tour du Roy Tower

The tower is in the center of the town and the large donjon has remained intact since the 13th century. The tower was once used as a defensive fortification and was part of the ancient Saint-Emilion Castle. The top of the tower can be climbed by climbing 118 steps. It is at the top of this tower that the members of the wine-growing fraternity gather twice a year in their red robes: in June to proclaim the oath of young wine, and in September to launch the harvest festival.

Franciscan monastery.

The Franciscans settled in St. Emilion in the early 13th century, and by the late 14th century they were allowed to build their monastery here, consisting of a church, an orchard, and a wine cellar. During the revolution, the monastery was abandoned and overgrown with vegetation. You can drop in here to wander through the ruins, the romantic garden and the long underground galleries. Admission to the monastery, church and garden is free.

St. Emilion Vineyards

Saint-Emilion is in the heart of the famous Bordeaux vineyards. It has the most favorable conditions for viticulture and winemaking. The limestone soils, the microclimate, the skills and traditions of the locals, the sunshine – all these factors enable the area to produce wines of exceptional quality, highly appreciated by specialists and gourmets.

The history of winemaking in this area began with the arrival of the Romans. In the 2nd century the first vineyards were planted. In the Middle Ages, monks were involved in wine making. Wine is one of the main elements of church rituals.

There are currently 12 appellations in the Greater Saint-Emilion area. Appellation is a special term, translated as “appellation”, which implies a set of requirements for the product produced under that appellation. It is a kind of quality brand. Good quality Bordeaux wines are produced under certain appellations. Saint-Emilion red wines include the following appellations: Saint-Emilion / Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Lussac Saint-Emilion, Puisseguin Saint-Emilion, Montagne Saint-Emilion, Saint-Georges Saint-Emilion, Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux and Lalande de Pomerol. For red and white wines: Francs Côtes de Bordeaux. For red, white and rosé wines: Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur. Sparkling wines are produced under the Crémant de Bordeaux appellation.

There are many châteaux (“châteaux”) in the Saint-Emilion district. Many of them offer tours and tastings. For example, here:

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