Saint-Emilion is a veritable open air museum!
Only 30 minutes from Bordeaux and 10 minutes from Libourne,
Saint-Émilion is one of the leading tourist destinations in the world, as a site known since the Middle Ages for its pilgrimages and wines and, more recently, having been recognised by UNESCO for its landscapes.
Vineyards and waterways, wooded hills and picturesque roads, the town of Saint-Emilion and its surrounding vineyards cover 75 square kilometres, centred on the particularly well-preserved mediaeval city. According to legend, the city was named after Emilion, a Bréton monk of the eighth century.
A lively and prosperous town, a place of transaction for it's prestigious local produce (wine above all, but also grain and building stone), as well as a famous shrine containing the relics of the patron saint, the beautiful city of Saint-Émilion has been successful and well-to-do since Middle Ages, still evident today, right down to its roots in the oldest, underground part of the monolithic church. Carved from the rock in the early twelfth century, this church, with its impressive dimensions, recalls the religious activity of the city in the Middle Ages and intrigues visitors with its unusual design.
Cloisters, churches, timber-framed houses, old stone houses, mills, great manor houses of the fifteenth century, the architectural heritage is striking. On foot, by bike, by car or couch and even by boat from Libourne, the landscapes, chateaux and even the contemporary architecture of recently built wine production facilities are splendidly revealed in the changing light of the seasons.
Saint-Emilion cuisine is another layer of charm, with specialities that have traversed the centuries. The famous macaroons of Saint-Émilion, whose recipe originates with the Ursuline sisters in the seventeenth century, have become the sweet speciality of the town. These delicious, soft round cakes are best tasted with a glass of Crémant de Bordeaux, another feature of Saint-Émilion, manufactured according to a secret recipe, by the friars in the Cloître des Cordeliers.
The Dordogne river has had an ancestral influence on local cuisine. The town of Sainte-Terre is considered the world capital of the lamprey. This unusual animal, unchanged by evolution in over 500 million years and devoid of jaws, fins or scales, is the delight of gourmets when simmered in wine and accompanied with leeks.
Saint-Émilion (including the city and the territories of eight villages united under the authority of the "Jurade" of the Middle Ages) was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999.