Visit time : 2 days.
The picturesque village of Saint-Emilion is perfect for a stroll down its medieval cobblestone streets. But that’s not the only reason visitors venture here. A name known around the world, Saint-Emilion has a reputation that has been earned over the centuries through the trade of wine production, omnipresent in the landscape of the Jurisdiction. Only the wine estates, each more sumptuous than the other, stud this vineyard landscape shaped by man. The best way to understand this land and its traditions is to taste the nectar of its labor (in moderation), legacy of its long and singular history.
The Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion and its eight municipalities constitute an outstanding landscape of indisputable value. The numerous monuments of the region, some of which are also of exceptional value, such as the Menhir de Pierrefitte (prehistoric upright stone) or the Church of Saint-Emilion, beautifully symbolize the history of the region and the richness of the different cultures that have left their mark with these priceless monuments. And even the character of the eight surrounding towns has evolved with the changing needs of their inhabitants. Most important, however, is how human activity has conformed to the characteristics of the landscape. Without destroying the countryside, communities, past and present, have made the most of its features while landscaping and developing their way of life. Quarrying, settlement and urban development, the building of churches, monasteries and private houses – all of this helped create a community in harmony with the topography of the land. The search for production quality, respect of the soil and the development of production techniques have sustained and strengthened its beauty.
The Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion is a living landscape that retains an active social role in contemporary society, and though closely associated with the traditional way of life, it also shows evidence of its evolution over time. It was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1999 as a cultural landscape.
Criteria for Selection
Criterion (iii) : The Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion is an outstanding example of a historic vineyard landscape that has survived intact and is still active today.
Criterion (iv) : The historic Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion is an exceptional example of the intensive cultivation of wine grapes in a precisely defined region.
Source : UNESCO / ICOMOS
The territory of the Jurisdiction was already inhabited more than 3,500 years ago. One of the last vestiges from this period is in the municipality of Saint Pey d'Armens is the Menhir de Pierrefite (prehistoric upright stone). In ancient times, the plateau above the present village of Saint Emilion was occupied by a Gallic oppidum (fortified village). The region was in fact already populated when the Romans cultivated the first vineyards (1st century AD).
But the history of Saint-Emilion itself starts with a Breton monk, Emilion, who chose to withdraw to the hermitage Ascumbas (former name of the village of Saint Emilion). He lived there for 17 years. The people of the surrounding valleys revered him for his generosity, wisdom and miracle acts. And during those 17 years dedicated to God, he evangelized the population. Many disciples joined him, creating a monastic city that was named after him. After his death, the site became a place of pilgrimage run by a community of Benedictine monks, then a chapter of canons. The city slowly took shape, organized around the hermitage and its troglodytic ensemble. The religious importance of the city would grow over the centuries. Located on the Pilgrimage Route of Saint-Jacques de Compostela, the area experienced a great period of prosperity from the 11th century onward, during which many religious buildings were erected.
Following the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry Plantagenet (future King of England) in 1152, the city came under English rule. It was then equipped with an impressive fortified wall about two kilometers in length, with six medieval gates and many defensive elements: crenellations, hoardings (wooden galleries), machicolations, parapets. At that time John Lackland, King of England established the Jurade, the Brotherhood of Saint Emilion wines (see “The Jurade”), which guaranteed the city autonomy. The privileges granted by the English were maintained and confirmed by Charles VII in the integration of the entire region to the Kingdom of France in 1453, marking the end of the Hundred Years’ War.
From the 16th century onward, Saint Emilion experienced a difficult period (religious wars, loss of influence of the city in favor of Libourne) before being reborn in the 18th century. The walls were removed, and with the city now open, farming and the wine trade was aggressively developed through exports to England and the Netherlands, in particular. The fame of Saint Emilion wines would then go down in history. Over the next century their exceptional quality would be recognized worldwide. This recognition was accompanied by an innovative structure and organization of the profession of winemaking. Indeed, it is here that the first wine syndicate (1884) and the first cooperative wineries of Bordeaux (1932) were created. The wines produced in Saint Emilion make up 10% of the production of Bordeaux wines.
Tourist Office of the Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion
Place des Créneaux, 33330 Saint-Emilion
Website - tel : 05 57 55 28 28 .
November through March : 10 a.m to 12:30 and 2 p.m to 5 p.m.
April, May, June, September and October : 9:30 a.m to 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
July and August : 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Accommodation available for visitors with disabilities.
Tourist Office Branches of Sainte Terre and Montagne
Website - tel : 05 57 55 28 28 .
Open from April to October.
Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 12:30 and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. On sunday: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Monday in April, May, June and October.
Tours organized by the Tourist Office
Historic Saint-Emilion (2h - €14)
By taking the scenic ways, you will discover the hidden charms of the medieval city and the mysteries surrounding its history. Information at the tourist office. With guide.
Saint-Emilion Underground (1h - €8)
This tour shows visitors the monolithic church, the Grotte de l’Ermitage, the catacombs and the Chapelle de la Trinité. Information available at the Tourist Office. With guide.
The Panoramic Wine Road (1h - €10)
Saint-Emilion Wine Tour makes you discover the diverse landscapes of the appellation in an open-deck bus.
Saint Emilion, a medieval city (1 hour, 30 minutes - €13)
This guided journey into the city traces the history and development of the town. Information available at the Tourist Office.
Saint Emilion under the stars (2 hours)
Price: €11. Free for children under 12 years old.
July and August, on Thursday. Show begins at 10 p.m.
By the light of a lantern, accompanied by a guide, visitors stroll through the streets of the city and visit the underground monuments. Lanterns provided. Information available at the Tourist Office.
Saturday Wine Tasting
Price: €77. From April through October, on Saturday.
Introduction to wine tasting, hosted by a wine expert, including lunch and a wine tasting in a restaurant, a tour of underground monuments in the city and a visit of a wine production site. Time: whole day. Information available at the Tourist Office.
Wine Estate Tours
The Tourist Office offers many themed tours of the surrounding wine estates : those with outstanding architecture or with underground galleries, ones specializing in families or organic wines ... The package includes: a visit to the vineyard, the winery and the barrel cellar, as well as an on-site wine tasting. This guided tour departs from the Tourist Office. Transportation included in the price.
Bordeaux and Saint Emilion Excursion, UNESCO Excursion
Price: €88 day rate
Every Friday from May through October. This guided tour “Les vendredis Vignerons” (Fridays in the Vinyards) includes a visit of two classified sites (Bordeaux and Saint Emilion) in one day. Information available at the Tourist Office.
Tours organized by the Tourist Office
The dynamic Tourist Office of Saint Emilion offers many themed tours for children. Here are a few to give visitors an idea of what’s available:
Raconte-moi Saint Emilion ("Tell me Saint Emilion"). In line with the various elements of the area’s heritage, take your children on an educational and entertaining journey of discovery based on the stories and legends of the region. For children 5 to 11 years old. Price: €5. 3 visits, 3 themes:
Pierre the stonemason:
This tour takes visitors through the life of a child in the Middle Ages, the role of the fortifications and the trade of stone masonry, as told by Pierre the stonemason.
Listen carefully to the stories of the characters and fantastic animals from Saint-Emilion that tell visitors about their daily life in the Middle Ages.
Investigation into the underground
Available daily in July and August. The rest of the year only during school holidays, on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11 a.m.
Visit underground rooms and tunnels of Saint-Emilion on this tour specially adapted for children. In the form of an investigation, visitors will follow the booklet, collect clues and solve the mystery to better understand the unique heritage of the caves.
Sur les pistes de Robin
“Exploring with Robin” – This scavenger hunt is designed for children ages 5 to 15. Free booklet available at the Tourist Office (3 languages). Three themes to choose from: nature, heritage or gastronomy. The little explorer Robin guides children to discover the wonders of Saint-Emilion while collecting clues and answering riddles.
Maison du vin de Saint-Emilion
Place Pierre Meyrat, 33330 Saint Emilion
Website - tel : 05 57 55 50 55.
Free admission. Open daily:
March to June and September to November: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ;
July and August: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ;
December, January and February: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The museum is composed of:
• An interactive video "Discovering the vineyards and wines of Saint-Emilion"
• A permanent exhibition: "the Vine and Wine trade"
• An educational photographic exhibition on the different wine names
• Workshop : "The table of flavors" tests visitors’ sensitivity to the aromatic undertones of Saint-Emilion wines (for the whole family).
Musée souterrain de la poterie
Les Hospices de la Madeleine
21 Rue André Loiseau , 33330 Saint Emilion
Website - tel : 05 57 24 60 93 .
Full price / reduced price: €6 / €3. Free for children under 12 years old
Open from April through November. July and August, open daily ; Monday to Saturday : 10 a.m. to 12:30 and 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. On sunday, only afternoon. Closed on Monday in October. November, Monday to Friday: 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Like many other sites in Saint Emilion, the Underground Pottery Museum was a quarry dating back to the 12th century. Rock that came from the quarry was used to build the city walls and the Tour du Roy. The exhibition is, like the site, exceptional. It highlights an impressive collection of regional pottery that depicts twenty centuries of history, from the Gallo-Roman era to the present day. The museum also features works by renowned contemporary ceramists.
Ecomusée du Libournais
Le bourg, 33570 Montagne
Website - tel : 05 57 74 56 89 .
Full price/ reduced price: €7/ €5. Free for children under 12 years old.
Open daily from April to October: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Closed on Monday in October.
4 kilometers from Saint-Emilion, in the center of the village Montagne.
The Living Museum of Libourne presents the history of inhabitants of the region and their way of life around wine production. Visitors are taken back in time to discover the heritage of the territory in a lively and entertaining way. For the whole family.
The Grandes Heures of Saint-Emilion (March to December)
Concerts and wine tastings at the wine estates. Schedule and information available at the Tourist Office.
Spring Festival and L’Automne de la Jurade de Saint-Emilion (June and September)
Third Sunday in June (judgment of the new wine) and September (lifting of the harvest ban). See "Jurade" for details.
Summer Solstice Festival (late June)
On the occasion of Saint John’s Day, music and dancing is organized, as well as a parade of ships on the Dordogne and the release of candles on the water. See "Saint Sulpice de Faleyrens".
Heritage Night (3rd Sunday of September)
Sunday mornings on the Place Bouqueyre.
Getting to Saint-Emilion
Highway A10 (Paris-Bordeaux), exit Saint-André-de-Cubzac.
Highway A62 (Toulouse-Bordeaux), exit La Réole or Langon.
Nearby classified sites
Bordeaux, Port of the Moon: 45 km (28 mi), time: 40 minutes
Vézère Valley: 150 km (93 mi), duration: 1 hour, 50 minutes
SNCF stop Saint Emilion
Website - tel : 36 35.
2 kilometers from the city center. It is possible to rally the city center by tuk-tuk (€ 3). See below "Getting Around".
Regional train (TER) line 26, serves Sarlat, Bergerac, Bordeaux. About 4 trains per day. Ticket purchase on the train.
Gare SNCF à Libourne (8 km)
Avenue Galliéni, 33500 Libourne
Website - tel : 36 35.
Paris to Libourne : 3 hours by train.
Gare routière de Libourne
62 Avenue Galliéni , 33500 Libourne
Website - tel : 09 74 50 00 33.
4 buses per day to Saint Emilion.
Bordeaux Mérignac Airport
Avenue Cassin, 33700 Mérignac
Website - tel : 05 56 34 50 50.
Low cost airlines
Aéroport de Bordeaux , Terminal Billi
Tel : 05 56 34 50 50.
Bergerac Dordogne Périgord Airport
Route d’Agen, 24100 Bergerac
Website - 05 53 22 25 25.
Specializing in low-cost flights, it is served by the following airlines: Ryanair, Flybe, Transavia, Jet2.com and Twin Jet.
Connection to Saint-Emilion by train (58 km).
Saint-Emilion should be visited on foot. Free parking is available at l’Espace Gaudet, next to the Place Bourgeoise. Because the number of parking spaces is limited, visitors can also park at the Villemaurine (fees apply) parking lot in the upper part of the city, in the parking lot of the Gendarmerie or on the Place Bouqueyre (fees apply) in the lower part of the city.
Guided tour of Saint Emilion with electric Tuk-Tuk (English or French)
Price: €10. Duration: 50 minutes.
Discover the vineyards by bike or on foot
To fully discover the Jurisdiction, visitors can take the time to immerse themselves in the nature and the heritage of the region by bike or on foot. The Tourist Office publishes brochures and maps of walks and cycling tours (free upon request). Information and bicycle rental at the Tourist Office. Rate for full day: €18.
The Great Wineries by Train
Website - tel : 05 57 51 30 71.
Price: €6.50 / reduced price for children under 12 years old: €5.50. Free for children under 3 years old.
Time: 35 minutes. Commentary available in English and French.
From March to early November. Departures from 10:30 a.m. to 18:30 p.m. in front of the Espace Villemaurine.
A trip to the vineyards of Saint-Emilion to discover of the most prestigious wine estates. A wine tasting is included in the price.
Sleeping / Eating
The selection of accommodation proposed below consists of establishments that offer quality services at competitive rates, they are considered as references in their respective categories. These addresses are inside the classified area. The prices shown are for the off season, on the basis of 2 people.
Au logis des Remparts ***
18 Rue Guadet, 33330 Saint Emilion
Website - tel : 05 57 24 70 43.
Price from : €125.
Hostellerie de Plaisance *****
Place du Clocher, 33330 Saint Emilion
Website - tel : 05 57 55 07 55.
Price from €250.
The selection of restaurants proposed below consists of restaurants that offer a good price/quality value. These addresses are inside the classified area. “Formule” corresponds to a lunch special with a starter and a main course, or a main course and a dessert. The “menus” usually consist of a starter, a main course and a dessert," for lunch or dinner.
Chai Pascal - traditional cuisine - wine bar
33 Rue Guadet, 33330 Saint Emilion
Website - Tel: 05 57 24 72 39.
"Menu" from €20.
L'Huitrier Pie - Seafood
11 Rue de la porte Bouqueyre, 33330 Saint Emilion
Website - Tel: 05 57 24 61 71.
"Menu" from €28.
Le Tertre - local cuisine
5 Rue du tertre de la Tente, 33330 Saint Emilion
Site internet - Tel: 05 57 74 46 33.
"Lunch menu" €25. "Dinner Menu and weekends from €33.
L’envers du décor - cuisine from market
11 Rue du Clocher, 33330 Saint Emilion
Website - tel : 05 57 74 48 31.
"Menu" from €35.
Restaurant de Hostellerie de Plaisance - gourmet cuisine
Place du Clocher, 33330 Saint Emilion
Website - tel : 05 57 55 07 55.
"Menu" from €78.
Reservation highly recommended.
Grand Barrail - traditional cuisine
Route de Libourne, 33330 Saint-Emilion
Website -tel : 05 57 55 37 00.
"Lunch formule" €25. "Menu" from €55.