I am a bit behind on my blog writing, so I am now hopping back in time to August 2016 when we traveled to France for a friends wedding (blog post here) & then a road trip down the coast of France into Spain.
After our stay in Le Croisic, we took our tiny little rental car and drove down to Saint-Émilion. It took just about 4 hours, which was the longest stretch during our week road trip through France & Spain. Saint-Émilion is just outside of Bordeaux, and some would say even more beautiful than Bordeaux! It is also a famed wine town known for its Grand Cru wine.
We actually had less than 24 hours in this beautiful little town, as it was a quick stop on our way to Biarritz. So we tried to fit in as much as possible!
What to do with one day in Saint-Émilion, France
1. A WINE TOUR & TASTING:
What to do with such a short amount of time in this beautiful town?? First - you must research what they're known for. And Saint-Émilion? They are known for their wines. Several weeks prior to our trip I had researched a few vineyards to see which we should take a tour at - surprisingly a good amount were already booked! But we found one which was perfect and was absolutely gorgeous.
Chateau Fonplegade is a mid-nineteenth century Chateau, and is one of the most beautiful in St-Émilion. The name actually comes from a legendary fountain which can be found on the grounds. "Fonplegade" literally means the "fountain of plenty".
We booked our private tasting & tour for 2pm which meant we could have an early breakfast in Le Croisic and then get one the road for that 4 hour drive. As we drove down the grapevine lined long driveway, we felt like we were driving to a castle.
Our amazing and knowledgable host took us on a tour through the vineyards, sharing all of the rich history. The views of their land & vineyards were gorgeous!
After the tour through the vineyards, we took a tour through the gorgeous chateau, which I kept thinking "wow... I wonder how expensive it would be to rent this out for a wedding?!" (i know i know.. we are already married.. but how amazing would a wedding here be?!).
Then... the part of the tour that Andrew and I were anxiously awaiting. The Tasting. Now i'll admit, we are in no way wine connoisseurs... in fact.. I bet I cannot tell the difference from a 30euro bottle of wine to a 300euro bottle. But it was fun to pretend! He would tell us all of the amazing details of this one very expensive wine we were tasting, and Andrew and I would just look at each other swirling it around in our mouths going "mmmhhm" nodding our heads... trying our best to look like we knew what we were doing.
2. STAY IN A FRENCH CHATEAU FOR A NIGHT
We only had one night in this gorgeous town - so this was the night we decided to splurge with our hotel stay. Since we travel quite a bit while living in Europe, we always try to keep our hotel stays to around 100-150 euros a night to save wherever we can. But since we had only one night in St-Émilion, why not splurge?! And luckily.. because I book practically everything through Expedia, I had quite a nice chunk of 'Expedia money' that I put towards this hotel. (even with that it was still quite a bit over our budget!)
The Chateau Grand Barrail Hotel & Spa is a 19th Century property built on 7 acres. Its gorgeous, isn't it? We took some time enjoying our beautiful little balcony & explored the grounds. Since we don't splurge often, we were taking advantage of every aspect of this hotel!
3. TAKE A BIKE RIDE THROUGH THE VINEYARDS
Luckily with our hotel stay, we were able to easily rent two bikes, and the medieval town was only a 20 minute bike ride away. We had the option to take the fast way on the main road, or the slightly longer way (about 30 minutes) and ride through the local vineyards. umm... of course I want to ride through vineyards!
4. GET LOST IN THE BEAUTIFUL STREETS OF SAINT-ÉMILION
Saint-Émilion is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, every street you turn onto is more gorgeous than the next. Some of its churches in the old town center date back to the 12th century.
5. TASTE ALL THE FRENCH FOOD & DRINK ALL THE FRENCH WINE!
French food is by far one of my favorites in the world. The escargot, the steak tartare, the cheese, the bread, the wine ?! I could eat it every day!
We found a beautiful little restaurant in the center of a square, which also happened to have live music!
This was our appetizer... two thick slices of pate with a brioche bun & jam. it was AMAZING. (with a bottle of red wine of course)
WHAT I WISH WE HAD TIME TO DO IN SAINT-ÉMILION:
As we only had less than 24 hours in Saint-Émilion, there was so much more I wish we could have done! Here is a list of things that I wished we could have fit in:
- A day trip to Bordeaux
- Spend more time exploring the village, unfortunately by the time we had gotten there most of the stores were closed.
- Visit the monolithic church in the village
- Book a spa treatment and swim in the pool at our hotel, Chateau Grand Barrail
- Stop by Maison du Vin - part visitors center / history museum, but also a wine shop which has a huge selection of the regions best vintages.
- Try any of these restaurants:
But alas... we had to get on the road and make our way to Biarritz!!