You’d be hard pressed to enter any wine shop in this world and not find something from one of the world’s most famous wine regions- Bordeaux. Wine production in the Bordeaux area accounts for an astonishing 14.5 billion euro ($20 billion USD) of revenue for the region annually, which is more than the entire GDP of many of the world’s poorest or smallest nations. The town is a fantastic place to kick back for a few days, and an absolute must day trip from Bordeaux is to the town of Saint Emilion in wine country.
The train ride is quite comfortable and you’ll be privy to some excellent views of vineyards and chateaus, especially as you get closer to Saint Emilion. Once you arrive at the small station you’ll need to walk about 1km to reach one of France’s most beautiful towns and a UNESCO world heritage site, due to how immaculately well preserved the exteriors of every building in town are. The interiors are a different story, housing an abundance of chic wine shops, restaurants, sweet shops and gift shops. Saint Emilion is touristy, but some places are touristy for a reason- because they are awesome. After a few hours strolling through this magnificent town, Bell and I both fell in love with it and declared it one of our absolute favorite European towns. The walk leading up to the town is also very nice and you walk right alongside vineyards.
We had planned to rent a bicycle and cycle through the lush vineyard filled hills 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 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.
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 when you arrive at the small train station as there isn’t anyplace to buy it in that area. 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 had.
For just 6.50 euro ($8.50 USD) you can catch a short mini train ride around some wineries and the tours lasts around 30 minutes. But at this point Bell and I were getting hungry and thirsty for vino. 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 absolutely awesome considering you could pay the same money to eat pub food in Dublin. The Amelia Canta restaurant rests in a stunning setting with a great 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, see which canard (duck) dish you’d like to indulge in (for vegetarians there is unfortunately no soy foie gras options), order some wine and savor the ambiance. St. Emilion is not to be missed if you’re in Bordeaux!
Where to Stay in Bordeaux and Saint Emilion?
It depends on your budget, but you’ll typically find the best hotel deals on booking.com. Families especially will find the best deals on short term apartment rentals. If you’ve never used Airbnb, sign up here and receive $40 credit off your first stay! It’s great to have a fridge in France to store delicious cheeses, wines and other goodies!