We do not remember days, we remember moments. – Cesare Pavese
Taking to Saint-Émilion’s cobbled lanes not long after sunrise, I felt as though I’d gone back in time a few decades, perhaps even a few hundred years. In the early-morning light, the graceful wrought-iron signs appeared in silhouetted form. Though the establishments’ names were in shadows, the contours of a sign’s grape leaf, baguette, or sausage hinted at what activity would soon be taking place inside those marchands de vins, boulangeries, and boucheries.
On a main square, waiters dressed tables with linen cloths, and merchants set out pots of grapevine plants for sale. Another shop’s proprietor rolled out a weathered, caramel-colored barrel, carefully arranging bottles atop it for a shop display. Hordes of visitors had not yet descended upon the 8th-century city, and I felt a bit like a local, even though my camera undoubtedly gave me away.
It was during this morning that I would first become acquainted with Saint-Émilion’s steep roads, known as tertres. There are four of them in the city, and as I found out on a subsequent evening following dinner, they make for a lively walk – especially after you’ve enjoyed a glass of the area’s esteemed wine!