I have passed by St. Émilion already in 2016 and made it one of my favourite towns in France. Although not big, it has a wonderful athmosphere due to the fact that none of the houses and buildings – not one! – is younger than some hundred years.
My last visit was sort of trying it out just a bit, like sipping the first mouthful of a new wine. This time, I want to stay downtown overnight and see what it is like in the evening. I detect a camper parking (free of charge!! really: free of charge!) right at the edge of the city and instantly skip the original plans for an overnight stay at the Hotel du Palais Cardinal (not knowing yet that I will end up right there for breakfast).
Although most of the camper places are blocked by ignorant regular cars during daytime, I catch a perfect spot and let Hector come to a rest. It is quite comfortable to come back to a place you already know, hence I go straight to the Office de Tourisme and get a ticket for the Monolithe Church within a minute.
The guided tour in the catacombes, caves and the Monolith Church itself takes about an hour, but with the vivid tales of the guide time flies by. I learn about a guy called Emilion who came over from the Bretagne after his good heart got him into trouble. With some years of meditation in a natural cave, he became sort of famous and the founder of the city St. Emilion. Even though he was more into religion and meditation than into wine, this town (if any) proves that both topics can co-exist easily.
Despite groups of American tourists crossing this place off their lists, St. Émilion is a relaxed place. I enter one of the umpteen wineshops and am lucky to have chosen the wine caves of “Clos des Menuts”. The lady at the counter combines the right questions (taste preference? price range?) with precise advice for a mutual win-win-situation: Her, making good business, me, ending up with three wonderful bottles of wine – one for the upcoming beach, two for my basement at home, from now on called “The Wine Cave”.
After storing everything in Hector’s various compartments, it is time for the beneficial use of the evening. I make a start at The Wine Buff: Less formal than other places, yet with a natural cave in the rear part of the bar and a small outdoor terrace. Perhaps it needs an Irishman + his Spanish wife to come up with such a relaxed bar in this beautiful town.
Next stop is one of the restaurants, but this time my expectations of fantastic food, sophisticated sauces and luxury wine are not entirely met by reality. However, I get by pretty well, no severe complaints.
I conclude the evening at the Place de l’Église Monolithe with a glass of wine of Saint Christophe Grand Cru. Ten minutes later, I fall asleep happily in Hector’s bed, parked on the nowadays almost deserted camper parking.
Tomorrow I will head for the coast line, while tonight I might be dreaming of a Wine Christmas.