About St Emilion
The beautiful village of St Emilion in the Bordeaux region of France oozes history and charm as much as it does wine. There are winding cobbled streets, incredible architecture all tucked inside thousands of hectares of vineyards. But look deeper and you’ll be able to uncover the secrets of St Emilion.
Walking across the square of Place de L’Eglise Monolithe, it’s hard to imagine that something serene and slightly magical lies below. Behind a thick wooden door at one corner of the square is an entrance to a whole new level of St Emilion. Booking a tour of this secret underground layer is a must! Visit the Trinity Chapel and then head to The Hermitage, the cave dwelling of the Benedictine Monk, Emilion, after whom the village is named. Onto the labyrinth of passages and catacombs before entering the Monolithic Church completely carved from rock and the biggest underground church of this type in Europe. So, take the tour, then pop back into the square feeling slightly smug that you’ve experienced a St Emilion secret.
The Wash Houses
Hidden down winding cobbled streets seek out the two tranquil wash houses of St Emilion. The wash houses bring you back to days of old, before wine and macarons drew in tourists and only locals walked the streets instead of umbrella following sightseers. The 2 ‘Lavoirs’ remind us that this was a living, breathing village where every day chores filled the days of inhabitants. In fact, the wash houses were the Hello Magazine of their time. Taking their already washed clothes, it was a place to rinse clothes in the flowing natural spring water. It was a time for ladies to catch up on gossip, local news and chat with each other. So, take a moment to seek out the wash houses, sit on the edge of the pool in this pretty, peaceful place and dip your fingers in the cooling waters. Can you hear the whispering gossipy giggles?
Cremant de Bordeaux
There is no getting away from the fact that St Emilion is a red wine lovers paradise. For decades, this small appellation has been known as one of the greatest red wine regions of the world. But look beyond the crème de la crème of St Emilion Grand Cru’s and you’ll find Cremant de Bordeaux. It’s St Emilion’s white or pink, bubbly and fresh cousin. Cremant is made in the traditional Champagne method but differs because of its use of traditional Bordeaux grape varieties. Semillon and Sauvignon in the white and merlot and cabernet grapes are used in the rose. It’s perfect as an aperitif or with light lunches and dinners. It’s a beautifully happy bubbly – a delicious surprise from St Emilion.
It’s true that the heart of St Emilion is wine but hidden down side streets and dotted in tiny courtyards are some boutique shopping delights. Try the famous macarons shops of the town – look for the distinctive blue and white design boxes. Seek out the courtyard of the Artisans Créateurs à St Emilion which has a delightful array of homeware, jewelry, clothing and accessories. There are some pretty boutique dress shops where floating summer dresses are just too tempting. And in case you just can’t stay away from wine – there are shops where you can pick up your own St Emilion vine.