Explore Saint Emilion during a day-trip: Best things to do

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If you’re looking for an amazing day trip outside of the city of Bordeaux and haven’t yet made it to Saint Emilion, let us be your guide. A large part of the team at Winalist is from the Bordeaux region thus packing this travel guide with amazing local insider tips.

This charming village is only one hour away from Bordeaux, and as a renowned wine producer with plenty of historic sites to explore. Whether this will be your first or tenth visit here, there’s never a shortage on things to do – from wine tours and tasting in Saint-Emilion to exploring its numerous monuments; we’ve got all the information you need for a memorable experience in Saint Emilion.

Grab yourself some baguette and cheese, get ready for an amazing adventure through cobblestone roads that lead into unforgettable memories, fasten up those seatbelts…it’s time now for our exciting virtual journey towards what awaits in St Emilion.

Visit Saint Emilion : Best things to do

Very famous for its wine, this village also has a history that will surprise many.

In the 8th century, a monk who came from Brittany, from Vannes to be precise, came to settle in the village of Ascumbas. This monk is called Émilion , and for 17 years he evangelized the population and even went so far as to create a monastery. The legend says that he is at the origin of the gushing of the source allowing him to perform miracles during all these years.

Following his death, the town of Ascumbas was built around the Combes cave, in which Émilion lived, and became Saint Emilion.

Wander in the historic city-center

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The narrow cobblestone streets lined with picturesque buildings, medieval churches, and quaint shops create a romantic and enchanting atmosphere, perfect for discovering this medieval village. As you meander through the streets, you will come across hidden alleys, secret courtyards, and stunning views of the surrounding vineyards. The old city center is also home to numerous cafes, restaurants, and wine bars where you can indulge in delicious local cuisine and world-renowned wines.

Discover the Monolithic Church of St Emilion

Que faire à Saint-Émilion

The Monolithic Church of St. Emilion is one of the most famous monuments in Saint Emilion and its surroundings. The monolithic church, located in the middle of the village, is the largest underground church in Europe.

Its particularity is indeed to have been dug in the rocks, under the Place des Créneaux and the Place du Clocher, in a side of the hill. This protected church is listed as a World Heritage monument.

Although we do not know the exact date of its construction, this place of worship is dated by historians back to the 11th century, and its 53-meter high bell tower would have been completed during the 12th century.

A few meters from this church is the Chapel of the Trinity Saint Emilion. The interior of its walls is decorated with ancient medieval frescoes which have survived very well. We therefore advise you to add it to your list of visits at the same time as the Monolithic Church.

Get the best view from the King’s Tower

Tour du Roy à Saint-Emilion - Que faire à Saint-Émilion

Would you like to admire Saint Emilion and its surroundings from the only intact Roman vestige in the region? Then go to the top of the Tour du Roy – over 100 ft high for a breathtaking view. Climbing the 118 steps costs 2 euros per adult and is free for children under 6 years old.

Like the Monolithic Church, it is unclear when it was built. According to the versions of historians, the creation of this dungeon could be attributed to Louis VIII or Henri III Plantagenêt, then King of England and Duke of Aquitaine in 1237.

Wine taste with a perfect view

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Just 800 meters from the village of Saint-Émilion, you can discover Château Balestard La Tonelle, a magnificent wine property accessible on foot from the center of Saint-Émilion in just 10 minutes. You can stroll through the charming streets of the village before immersing yourself in the captivating atmosphere of the Château.

Imagine yourself on a 400m² rooftop, which reveals a breathtaking 360° view of the village of Saint-Émilion and its surroundings, all with a glass of wine in hand! It is an ideal place to admire the rolling landscapes, the vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see, and soak up the magical atmosphere of the region.

As places are popular, don’t forget to book your tasting free of charge before coming to Saint Emilion:

Explore the vineyards around Saint-Emilion

To learn more about this legendary appellation of Saint-Emilion, visit some of the best wine producers who take care of perpetuating one of the greatest treasures of French heritage. Discover without further delay the best Bordeaux wineries to visit around the city of Saint Emilion.

Château la Croizille

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A few minutes from Saint-Emilion, in Saint-Laurent des Combes, discover Château La Croizille. At the estate you will have the opportunity to have a visit and tasting but also a picnic in the vineyards for a gourmet break! Book your next experience now on Winalist:

Château Fleur de Lisse

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Live an unforgettable experience and a true immersion in the history of France at Château Fleur de Lisse. Located 4 minutes from St Emilion, in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region, this medieval castle rises majestically among lush vineyards and offers spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Enjoy a guided tour of the castle and cellars to learn about the fascinating history and traditional winemaking methods used. As you explore the various rooms of the castle, you will be able to appreciate the authentic architecture and sumptuous period furniture. A must-do if you are in Saint-Emilion, book quickly!

Enjoy a Picnic in the vineyards

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For an even more intimate experience at 8 minutes from the village, travel to Clos des Abbesses, a family property in the heart of the Saint-Emilion appellation.

Discover the winemaking know-how of the estate with a private tour in the company of the winemaker himself! Share his desire to get involved in this magnificent region by prioritizing excellence in work and quality! If the weather permits, then enjoy a superb winegrower’s picnic accompanied by a tasting of 3 wines. Book quickly:

More wineries to visit near Saint Emilion

While finding yourself in one of the world most prestigious wine region of France’s spend a couple days exploring the rest of the region, discovering more wonderful villages and wineries up North!

Guided day trip to Saint Emilion with a driver

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One way to explore this picturesque village is to rent a car in Bordeaux and drive there.

One other way to explore the village is to take a guided tour with a chauffeur to Saint Emilion. Having a knowledgeable guide will allow you to learn about the rich history and culture of the region, enhancing their overall experience. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about navigating unfamiliar roads, finding parking or drinking and driving. Explore our guided tours to St Emilion from Bordeaux, a convenient and luxurious way to explore its surrounding vineyards.

Best restaurants to have dinner at Saint Emilion

If you want to opt for a bistronomic table but with a laid-back vibe, we recommend Chai Pascal. You will find local delicacies there.

La Table de Pavie is also a must-see address in the city. Gourmet restaurant, we advise you to make a reservation to go there.

5 minutes from Saint Emilion, discover the Atelier de Candale, a bistronomic restaurant located at the Château de Candale which will allow you to dine in the heart of the vineyard, a fantastic idea!

FAQ & Useful Resources to visit Saint Emilion

When is the best time to come to Saint Emilion?

If you want to avoid too much of a crowed environment, it’s best to avoid coming at the beginning of April and in June, when international events take place (like Vinexpo).
Excluding these periods:
May and June are perfects months for wine tours and tastings: days are long, the weather is nice and it’s not the high tourist season yet.
Summer: of course, summer is nice time to visit Saint Emilion – and more generally speaking – South-West of France, but you will find yourself right into the high tourist season, so in more crowded environments. Which can turn out to be very fin!
September and October: this is the harvest season, so wineries are busy, but it’s also a great time to understand how this step works – if you are interested in wine-making.

Should I visit Saint-Emilion even if I don’t know much about wine?

Please do! Saint-Emilion is a town of outstanding beauty. You will be delighted by the region’s gorgeous landscape and cute villages.