What I wouldn’t give to live in a place like this. Tucked away in the foothills of the Bordeaux Wine region is a tiny village called Saint Emillion. The town lives and breathes only wine, surrounded by infinite numbers of vineyards and rolling hills. The town itself dates back to the second century, with the main church at the top of the hill being just as old. Surrounding the church is a hodge-podge of old village houses and cobblestone streets so steep that they simply turn into stairs without a second thought.
Places like Saint Emillion must be so peaceful and so secluded, the life so laid back and relaxed, that it really makes me second guess myself in living in a place like New York or Paris. Large, name-brand cities that never see a moment of silence or a pace as slow as this.
The most commotion we noticed was a group of three people laughing drunkenly as they carried their bounty (like eight or nine bags of wine and wine-related product) down the hill towards their car, no doubt having just enjoyed several degustations at the various vineyards.
So what to do besides wander the streets, a wonderful activity in itself? Certainly check out the church, and next door is the tourism center. You can pop in their and get a guide book (free), that will tell you all of the local vineyards in the area, how much their tastings are (many are free), and when their doing tours. You can see the vineyards of the day, which rotate and make tours and tastings available more frequently and for large groups.
L’Envers du Decor, Saint Emillion
Nearby the tourism center is a beautiful view, not to be missed, as well as a restaurant called L’Envers du Décor. Eat lunch there. The prices are fair (thought a sneaky little waiter told us the ‘to-go’ price instead of the at the table price for a bottle of wine, which we thought was a little slimey, especially when they didn’t want to adjust the price for us). Aside from that little hiccup, the food is good and the ambiance is even better. It’s a classic French Brasserie, filled with interesting decor on the walls and lots of chatty locals, a large wood-burning fireplace, and really good coffee and saucisson. Tour a vineyard or two or three after lunch and learn all about the winemaking process, from vine to bottle.
You need a car to get here, but you can rent one for only 20 or 25 bucks per day, so it’s okay. It’s a must-visit if you’re in Bordeaux. Saint Emillion makes a great day trip, but I could also get lost in this tiny and manageable town for a week or so and really hit the reset button, relax, drink wine, tour vineyards and catch some beautiful sunsets. There’s not much else to do, but sometimes it’s that lack of everything that really lets us unwind. That… and great wine.
L’Envers du Décor: 11 Rue du Clocher, 33330 Saint-Émilion FRANCE | Make a Reservation: 05 57 74 48 31 | Open: Daily, 12-2:30, 7-10:30. | Website, click here.