What I love the most about my visits to Europe is how you can learn so much not just from its literature, but also from taking a tour, walking around, or admiring their surrounding architecture. There are countless cities and villages like these, but when in France a visit to Saint-Emilion, a World Heritage Site, is a wonderful passage back in time.
Start your visit in Saint-Emilion’s city center, head over to their tourism office, and schedule a tour. Of course, it’s fine to tour the city on your own, but a guided tour will take you through some pretty special places, such as to the underground tunnels of the Monolithic Church, accessible only with a tour guide.
Take a wine class, shop the artisan markets, enjoy a glass of wine in the city square, visit the Cloister of the Collegiate Church, allow your visit to transport you, but make sure you wear comfortable shoes! The cobblestone streets are very quaint and sweet, but hiking them in heel’s is a fool’s game, one which I don’t encourage you to take part in.
You can coordinate tours to UNESCO vineyards and many others, and indulge in some fabulous tastings. After traveling past the many wineries in Saint-Emilion, you will understand why they are so cherished and loved. On a beautiful day like the one I was enjoying at the time of my visit, you can get lost in the beauty of it all. This year the harvest is starting a little later than usual, so the vines are bursting with grapes still not ready for picking, but offering quite a colorful view and taste so yummy.
I visited two vineyards while at Saint-Emilion that I really think you should consider for not only their fabulous wine, but also for the unique and fun experiences they offer their guests.
I took part in a tour and wine blending class at Chateau Haut Sarpe hosted by Pierre Dufourq of B-Winemaker, who also gave me a tour of some great spots throughout the winery, such as the winemaker’s party room, where harvesters and staff get to kick back, wear silly hats, sing, laugh, and have fun before calling it a night for an early morning shift the next day. I also got to tour the cellar and barrel room, smell some barreled wine working its magic, and learn about a few techniques in wine making that I never knew before (you’ll have to visit to pick up some tidbits of your own). Pierre is as knowledgable about wine as he is charming and soon we were blending Cabernet and Merlot in search of the unique blend, or rather, my unique blend which I later got to bottle, seal, label, and take home! It is currently on reserve for 5 years, as Pierre suggested. We’ll see…
Another must have winery experience is a cooking class with Chef Bertrand Auduberteau at Chateau Ambe Tour Pourret. Chef’s charismatic approach is comforting and welcoming, even when faced with the responsibility of making the most French of dishes: foie gras. Of course, there are other options to choose from, such as desserts for example. Either way, you will feel like a true champ – I know I did, my dish, which I never in my life ever made before, was amazing! And the wine paired with it? Divine. Soon the winery will also be hosting guests in a bed and breakfast that is currently in the works.
With Chef Bertrand Auduberteau and fellow kitchen mates and hosts.
This is just a short list of ideas on what to do and see in Saint-Emilion. Really there is so much more and I could have easily spend a lot more time exploring and tasting more. Many thanks to my hosts, guides, and new friends Guillaume Carjuzaa of Saint-Emilion Tourism Office and Céline Boute Pro of the Tourism for the Aquitaine Region. This day with you was beautiful, joyful, and delicious and one I highly recommend for those looking to explore this historic area.
I will continue to share images and experiences from my other stops during my adventures throughout the Bordeaux wine region.
To see more photographs from the trip please visit the following links:
All photos taken with my SonyNEX 5R.
Disclosure: I was the blogger of choice by Atout France and their partners to share the Bordeaux wine experience with you. I traveled as their guest. All opinions are my own.