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Saint-Émilion Is More Than Just Wine!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Saint-Émilion is one of those whimsical French villages taken right out of a painting. The town is small, quaint, beautiful, and one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Let's not forget its surrounded by nearly 13,000 acres of vineyards and 1,000 years of history. If you own land in this appellation, you're the big cheese... big, big, smelly, delicious cheese.

Château Villemaurine
Château Villemaurine
The village itself is jam-packed with tourists. If you go during the off-season (January-March) you can just about skip through the streets untouched, but with the weather conditions the vineyards are not much to see. During any other month it is extremely crowded. Saint-Émilion is a popular destination for Bordeaux wines, arguably THE most popular next to the Medoc region.
Mathieu at Maison du Vin
For reasonable wine prices (for St. Émilion that is) as well as technical education on vines, visit Maison du Vin. You'll be surprised how much there is to learn! Mathieu and I had fun here at their exposition in which you can smell different scents within the wine, and guess what it is. Let's just say I was useless at this game, and couldn't tell the difference between licorice and vanilla.
Château du Roi (King's Tower)
Saint-Émilion is so much more than wine. The history in this town dates back to the Roman times. Ruins from both the Romans as well as the Benedictine Monks have been prevalent since the twelfth century. The region is named after one of the famous monks of the village, Emilian. There is a 45 minute underground tour available to see several ancient ruins from his era.
Monolithic Church
Above ground there are numerous ruins as well. My favorite is the Monolithic Church. Its an impressive architectural design, made from solid rock and having 196 stairs to climb to see its beautiful bell tower (have fun with that). The date of it is still unknown, however, it is estimated to have been built between the 12th-16th centuries.
Defensive Walls
There are also various defensive walls from the 12th century, Ursaline's Convent, an ancient monastery, the Collegiate Church, and more. Again, it is NOT just vineyards in Saint-Émilion. There is a plethora of history to be seen in a small vicinity, soo if by chance you are there in the off-season, check out their website for tours to take.
In regards to food there are some of the best chefs in the region here. If you have the money there are several upscale places to mange at, a popular one being L'Huitrier-Pie. There are, however, equally as scrumptious options outside of the appellation that will not suck your wallet dry. Even ordering a bottle of table wine in Saint-Émilion will be nearly double the shelf price.
Places worth spending your euros at:
Le Trouher Creperie Bretonne: Crèpes
L'Envers du Decor: Lunch/Wine Bar
Ferlion-Macarons SARL: Authentic St. Émilion macarons

Visit the village, take as many pictures as possible, buy a bottle of wine at Maison du vin, and go find a nice open spot to enjoy it. Its a cute, little place to picnic, and you can't find a more delicious buzz! And if you are considering doing a vineyard visit, check out Château Angélus (pictures and wine critique on Mathieu's blog here).

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