The ancient city of Saint-Émilion is no less than gorgeous, a UNESCO World Heritage Site set on a plateau surrounded by vineyards.

Vineyards of Saint-Émilion

For our ride up, we smelled the herbs and winds that help flavor our wine, driving a MINI Cooper convertible with the top down. Pourquoi pas?! Despite its appeal to wine lovers across the globe, it didn’t feel overrun with tourists or terribly crowded. Instead,

the city charmed us
the city charmed us as did its many courtyard wine bars and open-air restaurants.


View onto one of the main squares below the famous bell tower of Saint-Émilion

Bordeaux includes several areas and villages which make up this famed wine region, including Saint-Émilion—part of the Libournais region and the Médoc. Have a look at this handy map of terroirs to get the full, detailed picture. Bordeaux is of course probably most renowned for its red blends in Saint-Émilion and Médoc. To acquire its appellation, a wine must meet certain requirements in regards to its grape and blend, percentages of each grape in the blend, its geographic location, among other things.

An area I had long assigned as a red wine region, rather on this trip, I discovered the crisp white wines of Entre-Deux-Mers.

View from the bell tower in the evening when umbrellas, opened for a reprieve for the midday sun, are put away

We arrived midday and immediately found ourselves a shaded courtyard with wine to whet our palettes — for me, I sipped a dry white wine by Château Lafon, part of Bordeaux’s Listrac-Médoc region. A perfect start to a lovely summer day strolling Saint-Émilion’s cobbled streets. As a note, Sauternes is the area of Bordeaux which specializes in white wines, but these tend to be very sweet: a good pair for certain cheeses, foie gras, or dessert.

Meandering its windy streets, I discovered that Saint-Émilion may have some of the most spectacular cavistes (wine shops) I’ve ever seen, with ample opportunity to test and try different blends or makers to help guide your purchase. For your visit, bring flat shoes with a good rubber-gripping sole.

We found a room at the Palais Cardinal, located in an old 14th-century palace. It was simple and pleasant, perfectly situated, and had a lovely pool with poolside service. As the temperature digits climbed in the afternoon, we relaxed by the pool enjoying local vin blanc sec with lovely newfound friends.

Together, we ate in a square beneath the bell tower of Saint-Émilion’s monolithic church — notably, at the top of which offers a beautiful vista of the area.

Romans planted vineyards here as early as the 2nd-century C.E.
Grape vines at sunset

Pink and purple sunsets carried us late into the night making Saint-Émilion sparkle as the sun set. As night came, crowds gathered and the sky lit up with a grand fireworks display on this night before Bastille Day. This was the first fireworks display I have seen that was set to music and the night show was made even more dramatic by a booming techno-new-age beat mixed with soundbites from various takeoffs from NASA to the moon and International Space Station. It was all very cool, while a bit unexpected given the Americanness of it all. Although, I suppose its incredibleness is shared by “mankind.”

Fireworks lighting up the skies of Saint-Émilion
Andrew and I having some fun posing in the epic magic hour lighting.