First off, a day in Saint Emilion, France is not nearly enough time! If you have a few days to spare I highly recommend staying in Saint Emilion for more than one day. However, if you only have on full day you can definitely make the most of it! Keep reading to find out what I recommend for your visit to Saint Emilion.
While you’re in Southwest France, be sure to visit the coastal city of Biarritz and San Sebastian, Spain. Guide to Biarritz coming soon!
Explore Saint Emilion:
Driving into the Bordeaux region, I was mesmerized by the miles of neat rows of grape vines. I was immediately hooked on the beauty of the region. A warm, late September breeze greeted Brent and I when we stepped out of the car at our Air Bnb, which was a family-run vineyard in Saint Emilion. We set our things down in our room and wasted no time to start exploring the city of Saint Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. My awe of this historic city only grew as we drove through the city center. We drove through winding cobble stone streets lined with centuries old limestone buildings to get tour first stop at Chateau Villemaurine.
Wine Tasting & Tour at Chateau Villemaurine:
We signed up for the Vine to Wine tour at Chateau Villemaurine, which is great for anyone who doesn’t really have any knowledge of or a small knowledge of the wine making process. So for Brent and I this was perfect. The tour starts with a walk through a portion of the 7 acres of vines. You will learn about the different grape varieties Villemaurine has on their property and if you come when the grapes are mature you get to taste them! At Viillemaurine they grow 80% Merlo grapes and 20% Cab Franc. (both red grapes if you didn’t know!)
After a tour and history lesson of the grapes you head into the room where they separate the grapes from the stems, press the grapes for their juices, and hold them in steel tanks to ferment. Next is the really cool part of the tour, which makes Saint Emilion, and wines from this region, unique.
Your tour guide will take you down into the limestone quarries under the property where the wine is aged in French Oak barrels. These limestone quarries date back to the 12th century and are multiple levels deep. The tunnels make a great place to age the wine because they stay at a constant temperature year round. While you are down in the quarries, 10- 15 meters underground, you will able to see the bottoms of the vines from up above! It is seriously so cool.
After the tour of the limestone quarries you come back to the gift shop to taste two different wines and of course, buy bottles of wine to take with you! (make sure you leave room in your suitcase if you don’t want to pay for shipping)
City Center of Saint Emilion:
You must leave yourself enough time in Saint Emilion to just wander the streets and get lost! You can explore the whole city center in one day on foot. The tourism office is a very helpful tool for when you arrive inside the city and a place where you can buy tour tickets. The below are landmarks in Saint Emilion not to be missed!
- The Monolithic Church – carved directly into the limestone in the 12th century, you have to book a tour to see the inside. The tour also includes the history of Saint Emilion himself and an underground tour in the limestone quarries under the city!
- You can also go up the Bell Tour of the Monolithic church for incredible views of the city. (They only let a few people up at a time.)
- Tour du Roy – amazing vantage point of the city from here!
- Have a picnic lunch at Cordeliers Cloisters – walk up to the counter where you get to pick and choose what you would like inside your basket. Then head out into the courtyard to have your picnic! (Our diet in France consisted of bread, cheese, cured meats and wine – it’s just SO GOOD here!)
Dinner & views at La Terrasse Rouge:
A beautiful second story restaurant at Chateau La Dominique vineyard, La Terrasse Rouge is a special dinner! Unfortunately, the night we had dinner here it was a bit hazy and drizzling on and off so we weren’t able to capture a good photo of the view. You can eat out on the second story terrace with views overlooking those mesmerizing rows of grape vines I was talking about earlier!
The food at La Terrasse Rouge is classic french cuisine and definitely one of the more expensive dinners we had on the trip. Brent and I decided to do the pre-fixe menu they had available so we could try a few different things without burning a hole in our pockets. We also decided on a bottle of red wine from the vineyard with the help of our server.
Where to Stay in Saint Emilion:
If you’ve read my blog posts before you know I love to stay in Air Bnb’s to really get to experience the local culture. There are however, other really great accommodations in the area.
Inside the City:
- Hostellerie de Plaisance | $$$$
- Le Logis de la Cadene | $$$
- Auberge de la Commanderie | $
- Concept Appart St Emilion | $$
Chateau’s near the City:
- Clos 1906 | $$
- Le Relais de Franc Mayne | $$
- Chateau Du Palanquey | $$
- La Gomerie | $
- Chateau Fombrauge | $$
- Chateau Grand Barrail Hotel | $$$
Did you know: when you book a stay from any of the links on TRVL Collective, I earn a small commission which helps keep this blog running and at no additional cost to you!
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BUT, one of my most favorite Air Bnb’s I’ve ever stayed in was here in Saint Emilion. A family run vineyard five minutes from the center of Saint Emilion. This was a real bed and breakfast experience. Our hosts Jose and Laurette were amazing and so was their property! Honestly, we had such a great experience this B&B deserves its own post! (coming soon!)
- If there is a vineyard or chateau you really want to visit make sure to book a tour in advance.
- Harvest happens during the second half of September into October.
- If you don’t speak French, please learn some basic French words!
Bonjour – hello
Bonne journée – have a good day
Merci – thank you
S’il vous plaît – please
Au revoir- goodbye
Bonsoir – good evening
Oui – yes
Je ne parle pas francais – I don’t speak french
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