Located next to the Cathedral and cloister, I couldn't figure out what this little wine museum and shop was all about. Apparently you can join a class ( I think there is a fee) to taste local wines with a local Free entrance, but the only thing of interest was an aroma table used to illustrate the various nuances of a wine's "nose". The price to enter was right.... it was free. But I don't think the "nose" device had been freshened in a while. They do offer tours and sell local wines at what appear to be pretty fair prices. They also have a class for 40E where you can mix various local varietals to get a bottle of your favorite blend.
This old cloister was part of a long abandoned monastery. It is a little gem in a town so focused on wine, that stumbling upon it is a nice break. There is a nice little, understated wine bar adjunct. The convent/monastery goes back at least to the 14th Century. The name if from the Franciscan monks, who dressed in coarse cloth of brown/blue tied by a rope. Occupied by the Franciscans until the Revolution in 1789 when they were forced to disband. The site was later taken up by makers of sparkling wine, using the champagne method but with local Bordeaux grapes.
As Saint-Émilion is only a village, it can be easily discovered within a few hours. You might want to get some information beforehand at the somewhat oversized tourist information, but it is not exactly necessary. Nonetheless, the tourist information makes a good starting point. Directly opposite is a balcony overlooking the village. Those who want to see even more of the UNESCO world heritage site Saint-Émilion can climb up the spire of the monolithic church for a small fee. As you look down on the village from the balcony, you will see a beautiful plaza which should be your next aim. Surrounded by walls and the rocks of the monolithic church (which was carved out of massive rock in the 11th century), you can enjoy a coffee or a wine here before taking a look at some of the wine shops in the centre. Another nice place to go is the Tour du Roy, a watch tower dating back to 1237. The terraces around its entrance provide you with another beautiful view of the village. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to do the tour of the catacombs under the monolithic church, one of Saint-Émilion's main sights.
The ruins of a Dominican convent and church greet you at the entrance to St. Emilioin if you are coming from Libourne. This huge wall with the remains of three vaults was abandoned after the 100 Years War around 1,200. Now the vineyards come right up to the wall.
The Musee de Potterie located in the caves under St. Emilion is an interesting exhibition of the history of pottery in the region. There are many historical exhibits, including rectangular "plates" featuring scenes from medieval life through contemporary art pieces. The entrance is deceiving. As you enter the "building" you are quickly in a cave, which is quite cool.
Built over the underground Monolithic Church, from the surface one does not even connect it with the Church. The view from the top provides wonderful panoramic views of St. Emilion and the nearby vineyards. Access costs 1.25E when you get the key from the tourist office. You are asked to lock the door behind you, no easy task when it is dark inside. There are several viewing areas available. The stairs could be a problem and are somewhat worn.
Below the belltower and across from the entrance to the Monolithic Church is the cave of St. Emilion. St. Emilion developed a following when, as a monk in Britttany, while distributing misappropriated loaves of bread to the poor, he was caught, told to show the bread and the bread loaves miraculously were turned into sticks of wood. After several other such miracles, he obtained a following where he was thought to cure sickness and infertility. He moved to the town that now bears his name and lived in a cave for 38 years, living off the tiny spring and gifts of food. Pilgrims flocked to St. Emilion and even after he died women with fertility issues would sit in his rock meditation chair.
Under the hill upon which the town of St. Emilion sits is the Monolithic Church. As the hill was excavated for the limestone blocks needed to build the town, an underground church was created. Carvings on the walls add to the mystery. On the South ceiling is a carving of Gemini, for the summer solstice and on the North is a carving of Saggitarius. Interesting that astrological signs were prominately displayed in a church. It can only be accessed by a paid tour.
One thing that is unique to St Emilion is the architectural sites which for a long time was designed by men to blend in with the surrounding landscape.
St Emilion is such a jewel of stones, in a natural settings of utmost beauty.
The old cloister was built shortly after Saint Emilion died in 767 and in the 14th century it was rebuild and expanded.
Here you can see the inner courtyard with its arcades. This part of the cloisters was built during that rebuilding period. On the walls of the inner court you will see some very interesting frescos.
The Bell Tower is an impressiver structure which is about 133 meters in height and was builts some time between the 12th and 15th centuries.
It is located directly above the Monolithic Church on the Place de l'Eglise Monolithe.
We are wine lovers so it was such a treat for us to see this area and the vines that this spectacular wine comes from . Saint Emilion wine was alreadyknown during the Gallo-Roman period...today it is world renowned.
In the eighth Century, a Breton monk named Emilian first came to what is now known as Saint-Emilion. IN his lifetime he was said to perform miracles and today his spirit is believed to be felt in the village.
Located 35 km north-east from Bordeaux, between Libourne and Castillon-La-Bataille. This medieval town stands proudly at the top of a hill overlooking the Dordogne valley. We took our time wandering through cobblestone streets of the village and tried to imagine hwat it would be like to live in such a story book place!!
Sandra had organized a wine tasting class for the four of us while we were there. What a fun and interesting way to spend a New Year's Eve afternoon. We made sure to buy some before we left as well for the coming celebration. This class is given in English once and afternoon and French multiple times a day. I would highly recommend looking into this as a great event during your visit.
This tower is easily seen as you approach the town.
The climb may be a bit difficult as there are small stairs leading to the top. Do climb to the top and you will be rewarded with a fantastic view of the valley and town below.
During my visit, the cost was 1 euro.