Soaking up the Details (and the Wine) of Saint-Emilion – Bordeaux, France


Enclosed by vineyards producing some of Bordeaux’s most esteemed wine, it’s no wonder that the village of Saint-Emilion is one of the region’s most alluring destinations.

During a weekend trip there earlier this year, I found myself effortlessly charmed by Saint-Emilion’s elegant limestone buildings, its window-boxes brimming with beautiful blooms, its wine, and its almond-flavored macarons.

By day, Shawn and I ascended the 196 steps of the village’s church-tower and explored its vineyards, and by night, we shared exemplary bottles of wine with Shawn’s parents. One night, a generous winemaker sitting at a table beside us even invited us to share a glass of one of this creations. What a way to welcome us!

One early morning, I took to the town’s streets on my own, careful not to slide down Saint-Emilion’s infamous tertres or steep cobbled lanes (better to do so before a glass of wine!). On the walk, I soaked up the details you see here: a pair of topiaries, the silhouette of a sign shaped like a grape leaf, and my favorite – the likeness of a bottle fashioned out of corks, beautifully tinted by Bordeaux’s famed wine.

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

19 thoughts on “Soaking up the Details (and the Wine) of Saint-Emilion – Bordeaux, France

  1. Good morning, Tricia. It sure looks like a nice place (my kind of place ;-) We went to France early this year (with a traveling group). The info we got saying something about driving through wine country. Sure enough, we drove through Bordeaux, even stayed one night, but didn’t visit any winery. We couldn’t believe it. Oh well… next time I will read carefully and asked to make sure ;-) Thanks for sharing these lovely photos. Helen

    1. Helen, thanks for sharing your experience. I must confess that we also didn’t do any formal wine tastings, though we did get to sample some of the region’s impressive red wine, and even a Rosé from Provence.

      It’s always nice to have a reason for returning to a destination, and it sounds as though we both have one in the form of Bordeaux winery visits. :)

      We didn’t make it to the city of Bordeaux – did you stay there overnight, and if so, what did you think? When we were planning our trip (along with Shawn’s parents who pampered us that weekend), we were contemplating whether to spend most of our time in Bordeaux or in a village. In the end, of course, we opted to stay in Saint-Émilion the entire weekend. When the schedule allows, we like slow travel like that.

  2. Oh you have brought back wonderful memories to me Tricia! Saint Ėmilion is one place I fell in love with instantly…surrounded by vineyards and yes, those shiny cobbled lanes and archways. I have just suggested a ‘must see and stay’ to friends who are travelling now….thanks for sharing your visit

    1. Caroline, I’m happy to hear that the post reminded you of your time in Bordeaux! We’ve been fortunate to have visited a fair number of different ‘wine country’ throughout the world, but there’s something extra special about Saint-Émilion / Bordeaux, with Burgundy not far behind. Shawn and I didn’t formally visit any wineries in Saint-Émilion, but we enjoyed some memorable bottles of wine – poolside and at dinner. When were you there?

    1. Eden, it’s those kind of moments that I especially savor about ‘slow travel.’ Speaking of slow, let me apologize too for taking so long to reply. A certain little feline which we discovered tossed on the streets, has been our companion these past weeks. To say Cocoa’s ‘kept our hands full’ is an understatement. :)

    1. À la vôtre, Virginia!

      Lovely to hear from you. I could envision you creating something like the cork wine bottle featured in the center of the collage. When we get settled again, it would be a fun project to tackle, though it will involve enjoying many bottles of wine. I suppose that’s half the fun :) Enjoy the weekend!

      1. It is our Thanksgiving weekend. We will be Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends. My dear brother is cooking the turkey. I am contributing sweet potato mousse and pumpkin pies. My the feasting begin!!

      2. Virginia, here’s hoping you had a lovely day. Shawn’s parents, who hail from Canada, were also celebrating on Sunday. We got as close as we could to turkey in this part of the world (chicken breast and sauerkraut).

        Might you be sharing the Sweet Potato Mousse recipe? :)

  3. A lovely place to visit, will definitely add it to our list of places to see in France. I am a big fan of France, I have lived there for 7 years, have been on holidays recently there too. The last place we visited was Vallon Pont d’Arc in the ardeche region, lovely gorges and natural beauty. Lovely photos of details that convey the atmosphere. Laura

    1. Laura, thank you, or rather, falemnderit :) I see that you’re originally from Albania, a place that we explored last spring, staying with a family near Shkodër. If you’re curious, here were some memorable anecdotes from our time there:
      In which city did you grow up?

      Since high school, I’ve had dreams of spending an extended amount of time in France someday – where in the country did you live? I appreciate the pointer about Vallon Pont d’Arc too. From the French Alps, to the beaches, and wine country, I love the diversity France has to offer.

    1. Bespoke Traveler, I used to make regular pilgrimages to wine country in France’s Alsace region, so I remember that wine pretty well, but don’t have vivid memories from Burgundian wineries or those in Champagne – probably because I wasn’t taking in-depth travel notes at the time!

      The Bordeaux wine was phenomenal though – some of the best we’ve ever had. It helps that we also had good company to share it with (Shawn’s parents), which always enhances an experience. When Shawn and I went to Burgundy, we met a Frenchman purely by chance as we were admiring a vintage Citroën in front of his grandmother’s home. He invited us in to that home, which he was restoring, to share a 1982 Cabernet. What hospitality and history he’d share with us that afternoon. And the wine was also quite good.

  4. I would love to do a thorough trip through France and this I must add. It’s always interesting how towns and villages take on a certain character and personality which reflects in all their exterior decor. A toast to you and Shawn.

    1. Hi Lynne, sorry for the belated reply! We’ve become temporary foster parents to a Ukrainian kitten, and I’m finally making it back into the blogosphere for posting (about kitty) and commenting today. :)

      Like you, I’d love to do a slow travel kind of road-trip through France. When I lived and worked in Germany, I was fortunate to make some pretty regular weekend jaunts there, but the ability to drive on quiet lanes through the countryside without rushing back home to work on Monday sounds delightful. I’ve been a bit of a francophile ever since I studied French in high school, and it’s been a longtime dream to live there for a life chapter someday.

      Hope you and Ron are well and enjoying your Sunday afternoon!

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