A Day Trip to Saint-Émilion

Lots of people come to Bordeaux because of wine. I myself am not a wine connoisseur, and had never even tasted red before arriving here. However, since we have a glass included with our dinner every evening, I have slowly taken quite a liking to it…

A quick disclaimer before we get into this… I did a big silly (again) and dropped my phone down the toilet (for the second time in 6 months). Therefore, I have absolutely no photos of this wonderful place, and have had to rely on photos taken by friends and lovely people on the internet for this post. Apologies.

With that being said, it’s very common to pay a visit to a wine museum, or even one of the vineyard towns close by to Bordeaux, during your stay here. I’ve witnessed countless guests from the hostel paying upwards of €100 for wine tours including picnics, bike rides, t-shirts, you name it.

A few of us from the hostel decided to embrace the tourists within us and visit Saint Émilion for the day, since it has been constantly recommended to us throughout our whole stay here.

We arrived at the tiny little train station and it quickly became apparent we had no idea what to do or where to go once we were there. The four of us spent some time appreciating our being in the countryside for the first time in quite some time, before beginning a slow meander into the town.

Saint Émilion is settled amongst rolling hills and perfectly arranged vineyards as far as the eye can see. I have never seen so many grapes. It’s rather well-known to wine lovers for its 900 wine chateaus and Grand Cru wine.

We turned up rather unprepared, having not booked onto a €100 wine tour, and so spent the first hour or so wandering through the twisty little streets and consequently looping back on ourselves several times. Sometimes you just have to get a feel for a place before you start sightseeing, at least that was our excuse.

We redeemed ourselves by climbing the bell tower of the monolithic church, gaining an aerial view of the region, and even more grapes to spot in the distance.

The town itself can be described as a beautiful collection of hideously expensive wine shops. I found a bottle of wine costing €8,000, as well as one larger than my suitcase when I arrived here.

Amongst the expensive wine tours is hidden a much cheaper alternative which takes you via (horridly touristic) road train around the vineyards in the region to one particular chateau where you can visit the wine cellars and taste some wine as well. We opted for this, and soon found ourselves at a wine chateau out in the fields.

The tour guide spent a significant part of the tour deciding whether to speak in French or English. His problem being most of us wanted to listen in French while there were two girls who definitely did not have a grasp of the language. When asked if they wanted the tour in French or English, they replied that they wanted French wine.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the wine tour. I personally couldn’t taste the difference between a €200 and a €2 bottle of wine, but was fascinated by the whole process of distillery. We got to see wine bottles which had been kept in the same place at the same temperature since the 1960s, as well as being taught how to taste wine properly. This did involve at one point swilling wine around in our mouths, which is downright disgusting; picture brushing your teeth with red wine and you’re just about there.

All in all it was a really great day out, even if all I could hear inside my own head was “when in Bordeaux…”

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