Saint-Émilion: Lost-in-Time Storied Village

On this journey I have explored Bordeaux, Cadillac, Blaye,  Bourg, and Libourne.  Libourne lies northeast of Bordeaux and sits on the confluence of the Dordogne and the Isle rivers. Join me as we go beyond Libourne and explore the honey-colored village of Saint Émilion.

Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina

Saint-Émilion is a honey-colored wine village in the Gironde department in southwest France, where it gracefully adorns a rocky outcrop overlooking the Dordogne River valley.  In 1999, Saint-Émilion was awarded the title Cultural Landscape by UNESCO; protecting its ancient architecture, landscape, and historic vineyards that still produce world famous wines today.  This quaint wine village will pull at your heart strings with its photogenic beauty, glistening limestone facades, and vine-laced vineyards.

The most practical piece of advice I can give you for visiting Saint-Émilion is to wear sturdy walking shoes. You will thank me later, as you navigate up and down those captivating winding lanes, all inlaid with centuries-old shiny and slick ballast-cobblestones, beckoning you forward - to explore this remarkably rich village.

Saint-Émilion is a medieval, fairytale-esque town with a maze of curlicue stone streets filled with charming storefronts, enchanting squares, and flower-laden terraces just waiting for you to enjoy the splendor. The village of Saint-Émilion grew famous and wealthy in the eighth century through its wine trade and prominence on the route to Santiago de Compostela. Visiting Saint-Émilion is so much more than wine; nowadays, you can spend time just strolling the crooked and charming streets without ever visiting a wine château (but would be a shame).



Scribbles and Smiles by JChristina
Saint Émilion Monolithic Church

Postcard perfect Saint-Émilion is more than just renowned wines - it will steal your heart with its landscape, history, and serene lifestyle. In this blonde-colored wine village, just east of Bordeaux, perhaps the most extraordinary site is what lies below ground, the Monolithic Church from the twelfth century.  1300 years ago, a Breton monk named Émilion, came to this ancient town, then named Ascumbas, to escape religious persecution.  According to legend he has an intriguing and curious story - Émilion lived and existed in this dark and damp subterranean cavern-church, where it is said he performed miracles.  In this ancient story, Émilion was believed to have carved a limestone seat that aided women in fertility; and during this period more miracles appeared among his faithful followers.  Many believed the underground spring-fed pool of water used for baptism also cured blindness. 

The most dramatic sight from afar is a raising steeple from the corner of the Les Cordeliers: a fifteenth century bell tower, soaring up 68-meters high above Saint-Émilion. Where climbing nearly 200 steps upward situates you atop a glazed tile rooftop, with a majestic view across the valley of lush vineyards and châteaux.   

 This lost-in-time storied town, Saint-Émilion, weaves an incredible visual story that goes with its legendary origins through Romanesque architecture, religious sites, and cultural indulgences. Simply put, it is a one-of-a-kind destination. This beautiful town with its scarred ramparts bears witness to battles, while weaving an amazing memoir. Truth is, there are many such treasures in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of southwest France all waiting to be explored.


 *2016 & 2023 travels

 October 19-October 30, 2023
 images are from archives

Saint-Émilion Tourism
Saint-Émilion is a quick car, train or bus ride from Bordeaux and the town is easily explored on foot, by petit tourist train, or even via tuk-tuk ride.

J. Christina is the author and owner of Scribbles and Smiles. Through our blog, we share stories of the wonderful discoveries we have made on our European travels. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie.  Hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.  Christie is traveling solo on this adventure, 2023.


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