This post was originally written for my old travel blog Dream Explore Wander on 23 September 2014.
After a failed road trip plan, my friend surprised me with a spontaneous getaway to Bordeaux. It was February and we had some days off from school. The weather was still chilly and I couldn’t find a better way to enjoy my days off than to visit a city so famous for its wine.
Bordeaux in itself is charming and I loved the pub scenery downtown. Initially we wanted to do a wine tasting tour, preferably in a charming small town with gorgeous vineyards but since it was the holidays everything was booked up. We were a little disappointed but the lovely lady at the tourism centre suggested us to visit Saint-Émilion, which was not far from Bordeaux and we could easily catch a train to go there. She told us we might not get a wine tasting tour there either but at least we could see what a wine village looks like and maybe snatch a bottle or two of the best wine there. This option sounded amazing and we were a little excited to explore the wine village of Saint-Émilion.
Saint-Émilion got its name from a monk named Émilion who settled in the area back in the 8th century. Émilion had a gift of healing and people believe that his spirit still lingers over this medieval village. Vineyards in this area has already existed since the Romans but it was Émilion the monk and his friends that started the production of wine.
From the train station, we simply walked to the small village accompanied by the view of vineyards. For a person who has not seen a vineyard up close before, I found the bare trees stunning. Everything looked neatly aligned, creating perfect infinite rows. The wonder of travelling in a four season country is that in each season you will surely get a distinct view and it always makes me want to come back and see what the view looks like in other season. This was exactly what I was feeling while walking towards the village, I wondered how this bare vineyards will look like when they are fully grown and filled with juicy grapes.
The quaint village that sits magnificently in the Dordogne valley welcomed me with a cobblestone street filled with old, gorgeous limestone buildings, most of them were selling wine of course. The wine village looked a little quiet and it seemed that no one was really around except for a couple of cute cats who wouldn’t stop following us. We took advantage of this and strolled around this lovely village.
It didn’t take long for us to spot the tower of Saint-Émilion’s monolithic church. Its bell tower is certainly the village’s tallest attraction. Curious to get a closer look of the church, we tried to find a way up. A small cobblestone passage decorated with a water fountain, gorgeous black lamps and an old-looking restaurant took me up to not only see more of the church but also more of the village. Exploration in this small village turned out to be quite simple since this wine village is quite small, and since I love exploring villages, I didn’t mind a bit and took plenty of time to admire the gorgeous view from the church.
Since we didn’t get to book a wine tasting tour, we decided to visit one of Saint-Émilion’s many wine caves. The owner of the cave explained a little of how these caves worked and that some of the wines there have been stored for many years. It was really interesting to see a wine cave and we were really tempted to bring one of the wine barrel home!
It is really easy to explore Saint-Émilion and you will probably find it easy to spot all the gems inside the village. As we went back to the centre of the village, we made our way to the old cloister with its open courtyard and amazing facades. Not far from there was the Saint-Émilion’s wine house where we got to learn a little about wine production. We even got to smell different kinds of wine. It was certainly very interesting for a wine noob like myself.
We ended the day by visiting King’s Tower or as the local says Le Tour de Roi. We paid around €1 to climb the small steps of the tower and was presented with a beautiful view of this lovely village.
After snatching a wine (or two) from the many wine shops in the village, we made our way back to the train station. I was blown away by the sunset that reflected a gold coloured shine above the vineyards, making it a little bit magical. I smiled and was happy that I took a day to walk around and explore this pretty village of Saint-Émilion.
Have you ever been to a wine village like Saint-Émilion? Do you think you would like exploring this wine village?