Tips for Visiting Saint Emilion, France

You’d be hard pressed to enter any wine shop in the world and not find a selection from Bordeaux. Wine production in the Bordeaux region accounts for over 14 billion euro ( $15 billion+ USD) of revenue for the region annually. That’s greater than the entire Gross Domestic Product of many countries! Saint Emilion is a UNESCO World Heritage Sites and also makes for an excellent day trip from Bordeaux. Here are tips for arriving from Bordeaux and what you can expect to experience!

Train from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion

If you don’t rent a car it’s not a problem. It’s a 35km train ride from  Gare St. Jean train station in Bordeaux to Gare de Saint Émilion. The journey takes about 40 minutes each way and costs around 20 euro ($25 USD) round trip. The train ride is comfortable and you’ll be privy to some excellent views of vineyards and chateaus, especially as you get closer to Saint Emilion.

Be Sure to Validate Your TGV Ticket

Be certain to validate each leg of your journey as French TGV train tickets are valid for 2 months and must be stamped from one of the yellow ticket machines on the station platform. We were actually unaware of this and when the train conductor came to check tickets she made us aware and cut us a huge break by not fining us. It’s lucky we didn’t get a conductor who was having a bad day, otherwise, we would have received a hefty fine. If you forget to validate your train ticket it is your responsibility to seek out a train conductor and inform them, don’t let them come to you first.

Arriving at Gare de Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion, France in summer

Once you arrive at Saint Emilion’s small train station, you’ll need to walk about 1km past picturesque vineyards into town. Saint Emilion is one of France’s most beautiful towns. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to how well preserved the exteriors of the old buildings are. The interiors are a different story, housing an abundance of chic wine shops, trendy restaurants, sweet shops and gift shops. Saint Emilion is very touristy, but somehow still feels authentic. After a few hours strolling through this magnificent town, Bell and I both fell in love with it. It is one of our favorite European towns.

Rent a Bicycle

We had planned to rent a bicycle and cycle through the lush vineyards of the region to several of the towns neighboring chateaus. But with July temperatures that day reaching 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), we chose not to labor and possibly argue for the rest of the day and scrapped that plan. Along with lower prices, fall and spring are better times to visit this region because you’re less likely to be bogged down with heat and can partake in more activities. Scorching temperatures also mean you probably won’t be in the mood to drink what Bordeaux is most famous for- red wine. Though fortunately the Bordeaux area also produces enjoyable white wines which Bell doubly appreciated as she’s unfortunately allergic to the tannins in red wine.

Stay Hydrated in Summer

The wine overflows in Saint Emilion, but amazingly not bottled water in shops. We had to pass through several shops before finally being able to purchase some cold water. Be sure to have some water if you arrive by train as there wasn’t anyplace to buy it near the train station. To cool off we also enjoyed some wonderful sorbet from one of several ice cream vendors. If you like tart flavors, we highly recommend getting a scoop of passion fruit as it was pretty much the best sorbet we’ve ever eaten.

day trip from bordeaux, passion fruit sorbet

Wear Good Walking Shoes in Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion has a rather steep climb on tricky cobblestone streets so be sure to wear good walking shoes! When you reach the top of town you’ll be rewarding with a stunning panoramic view of nearby wineries and the town below. It’s a view you will never forget and one of the many scenic things in life where the pictures don’t do it justice.

For just 6.50 euro ($8.50 USD) you can take a short tram ride around some wineries and the tours lasts around 30 minutes. This is especially a good idea if members of your party aren’t able or willing to rent bicycles.

Dining in Saint Emilion

We frequently day dream about returning to drink vino and dine at the Amelia Canta.
A picturesque al fresco dinner in Saint Emilion, France

We highly recommend having wine and dinner in the main square as it’s one of the most beautiful settings we’ve ever dined in. And the prices are fantastic considering you could pay the same money to eat pub food elsewhere. Find a restaurant in a stunning setting in the square with a charming view of the Monolithic Church of St. Emilion. There’s a few other neighboring restaurants in the square, so have a look at the menus to see which canard (duck) dish you’d like to indulge in. For vegetarians, there is unfortunately no soy foie gras options.

Eating here reminded us of the opening of The Way, about hiking the Camino de Santiago, which begins in France. Saint Emilion is a great day trip from Bordeaux!

The main square of Saint Emilion is a pretty tough setting to top when it comes to dining out.
The main square of Saint Emilion, France is tough to top for scenic al fresco dining.
day trip from bordeaux
day trip from bordeaux
Saint Emilion, France

Saint Emilion Tours from Bordeaux

Full Day Trip to Saint Emilion

Spend a day enjoying French wine in the Saint-Emilion and Pomerol wine region. Departing from Bordeaux, visit two chateaux to taste the region’s famous wines and wander the streets of beautiful Saint-Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tour includes a full-day trip to the St Emilion wine region from Bordeaux and costs $170.89.

Half Day Trip to Saint Emilion

Spend a half-day in the charming medieval town of Saint-Emilion on a  trip from Bordeaux. Explore the best of this UNESCO-listed village, including a wine tasting at a grand cru wine estate, a walk along the historic city walls, and visits to unique artist galleries and studios. Enjoy some free time in Saint-Emilion, too. The Saint Emilion half day tour from Bordeaux tour costs $108.05.

Saint Emilion Hotels

Consider booking a hotel or bed and breakfast in advance that offers free cancellation. That way if your plans change, you can cancel without penalty!

Château Hôtel Grand Barrail

Château Hôtel Grand Barrail offers a wonderful 5-star luxury stay just outside Saint Emilion. The 19th-century Château has an outdoor swimming pool, spa center, free Wi-Fi and soundproofed accommodation. All guest rooms at the Grand Barrail Chateau are equipped with air conditioning and a flat-screen TV with satellite channels.

Some rooms feature sweeping views of the surrounding vineyards. The Grand Barrail Chateau Spa features a gastronomic restaurant that serves regional cuisine. Situated along the Dordogne River, the property is 2 miles from Saint-Emilion.

Villa Héloïse

Villa Héloïse is a wonderful place for couples to stay just outside Saint Emilion. Located in Puisseguin and surrounded by vineyards, Villa Héloïse offers elegant rooms with LCD TVs, free Wi-Fi and a meeting room. With wooden floor and furnishing, each air-conditioned room has a minibar, safe and private bathroom with bathrobes and luxury toiletries.

Some rooms feature a spa bath and sauna or facilities for guests with reduced mobility. A continental breakfast is offered every morning. Accessible via Libourne Train Station, Villa Héloïse is 6 miles from Saint-Emilion and 31 miles from Bordeaux city centre. Wine tasting can also be enjoyed right on site!

Bordeaux Hotels


Hôtel Le Palais Gallien offers a wonderful 5-star luxury stay in Bordeaux, complete with concierge and ticket service. The property features fine dining, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, bar and garden. Their 24-hour front desk can also assist with airport transfers and room service. Free WiFi can be found throughout the property. Popular points of interest near the hotel include Esplanade des Quinconces, Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux and CAPC Musee d’Art Contemporain.


L’Hôtel Particulier is located just 350 feet from Saint-André Cathedral in Bordeaux. The property offers free WiFi and is ideally located to discover the highlights of Bordeaux. Each room at this comfortable guest house is air conditioned and comes with a flat-screen TV. Certain rooms have a balcony or patio and feature a comfortable seating area. All rooms are equipped with a private bathroom. Concierge service is available at the property. On-site bike hire is also available.


The Ibis Bordeaux Centre – Gare Saint Jean, is a good option for budget travelers. It’s conveniently located 1,000 feet from Saint Jean Train Station and a 10-minute tram ride from the city center. The property offers an on-site bar and complimentary WiFi in rooms. An ample buffet breakfast composed of sweet and savory dishes such as eggs, fruit salad, yogurts and juices can be purchased for an additional cost. It is no frills, but offers a base to enjoy Bordeaux in summer.

Dinner in Saint Emilion day trip from bordeaux

Have questions about travel to France or elsewhere? You can leave a comment below or email me at [email protected] and I can assist you! 

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  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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4 thoughts on “Tips for Visiting Saint Emilion, France

    1. Yes it is a rather inspiring place! Bell and I would absolutely love to return. I also have Cognac on my mind as that’s just 120 km north of Bordeaux!

    1. Haha! The Tour de Chateau…love it! Yeah Medoc is also meant to be amazing for wine tasting, as is Cadillac for those that like sweet fortified wines. I was going to do a day trip to Cadillac (sounds pretty classy) the last day of Bell’s conference but there was no train there and I had just missed one of the infrequent buses. Pity as the town looked beautiful on the tourism video in the hotel room and yes, the car is named after that town!

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