St-Émilion, France

Belfry

Belfry

Medieval St-Émilion is the oldest wine town in France. It is about 22 miles northeast of Bordeaux and sits high on a limestone rock overlooking the seemingly endless vineyards, châteaux and Romanesque churches of the Dordogne valley.

View over the town

View over the town

Lots of steep hills

Lots of steep hills

There's no shortage of cute shops!

No shortage of cute shops

Garagiste, or garage wine, shop, selling newer-style wines

Shop selling vin de garage, or garage wine, made by garagistes, those who produce a nontraditional style of wine

St-Émilion is a cluster of stone houses, churches and wine shops surrounded by ramparts.

Remains of 12th-century Palais Cardinal

Remains of 12th-century Palais Cardinal

Église Monolithe

Église Monolithe

The church was carved into the hillside

The church was carved into the hillside

The most famous sight is Église Monolithe, a 12th-century subterranean church, complete with catacombs and quarries. Its belfry sits on the main square, Place des Créneaux, a terrace with great views.

View from the terrace

View from the terrace

Collégiale de Saint-Émilion

Collégiale de Saint-Émilion

Interior wall

Interior wall

The Romanesque Collégiale de Saint-Émilion is worth ducking into to view the statue of St. Valery, the patron saint of winemakers of Saint-Émilion, the frescoes and the adjacent 14th-century cloister.

Surrounding area

Surrounding area

St-Émilion has been thriving since the 8th century when Benedictine monk Émilion arrived from Brittany, settled in a cave and began performing miracles. People traveled from all over for his healing powers and advice. Due to these followers, the town exploded to an enormous population of 10,000 (today, under 3,000 people live here). Over time, the region prospered due to its wine production.

Colorful sign

Colorful sign

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