THE TIME TRAVELS IN FRANCE
“She always had that about her, that look of otherness, of eyes that see things much too far, and of thoughts that wander off the edge of the world.”
-Joanne Harris, Chocolat
I remember the movie “Chocolat” , back in 2000 because it made me interested in France and French culture. There is no secret about my curiosity and love for travels around the world, but there has been something about this romantic comedy, based on the book of Joanne Harris, that was unusual. Maybe it was a touch of magic, the amazing inspiration with chocolate, dreamy village somewhere in the middle of nowhere and the wind that brings change. Like a time travel though the decades of French history, shaped by local proud, majestic appetite for life and emotional blossom. That kind of France that I wanted only for myself, for my own ambitions to go there and stay forever. I could be stuck in some of those illustrative little towns and I would decorate them with my spirit and my dreams.
Nevertheless, France has its own heart of Chocolate, where we can let ourselves to be lost, without fear from tomorrow. France has St. Émilion and I am sure that town has something to do with some of my previous lives. Why? I know that I could live there, I could merge with the soul of the wine town and I could modify the mentality of St. Emilion, pretending that I am Vianne Rocher, an expert chocolatier and that my art of making and selling the chocolate will change the people’s lives and their sense for happiness.
What we know about St. Èmilion so far? It is known to be more beautiful than ever Bordeaux, with its medieval breathtaking architecture, sleepy streets with echoes from French legends and with the charm of the oldest wine appellations. The last but the most important for all who enjoy the glass of good wine, our remarkable town has Grand Cru wine. That is not all. There is such a great gastronomy that drives people all around world to run into this village, under UNESCO protection, and to grab the taste for never-ending pleasures in food and drink. According to writing of website for enology, this pictoresque town is a source of different wine styles and combinations:“The wine of Saint Emilion comes in a wide range of styles. The diversity of St. Emilion is part of what makes it so easy to pair with such a diverse range of foods and cuisines. St. Emilion wines make perfect pairings with beef, roasted, grilled, braised and stewed. Game, chicken, veal, pork, cassoulet and fish, depending on how it was prepared. Saint Emilion wine served with a myriad of hard or soft cheese is a perfect wine and food pairing.It’s easy to go from chateau to chateau and discover one producer making a modern style of wine, while their neighbour prefers a more traditional approach. Wine styles are dictated by a combination of the terroir and the choices made by the wine maker. Wine from the sandy soils in Saint Emilion are lighter, offering more of a red fruit character, while the wines from clay and limestone soils are often richer, deeper and longer lasting.The Merlot in St. Emilion offers tasters lush, soft textures, richness and concentration with flavors of plums, blackberry, licorice, chocolate and black cherry.The Cabernet Franc adds aromatic qualities like flowers and spice as well as tannin and structure. St. Emilion can also be earthy, spicy and deliver notes of tobacco and truffle, as well as fresh cherries when it ages.”
This French settlement has more than inviting wine production, it has a legend that offers its own book of secrets and let us discover the underground world of St.Émilion, experiencing ur own instant time traveling. The name of this community originates from one Benedictine Monk, Émilian, who helped building the oldest church over there. History says that St.Émilion was the first region in Bordeaux to export the wines. Maybe it is interesting to mention that this local wine was one of the favourite of English King Edward. During the years, St.Émilion has been crafted into the wine kingdom, with more that 5,565 hectares under wine. Isn’t that a great reason that we catch this cute town into our baggage and never let it go from our maps?
There are people who love outdoor and active holiday. I must admit I am one of them, explorer that is insured with every corner of the town and who is always trying to find something that is not said or written about. You can fall in love with tales of St.Èmilion, so many of them are thrilling and they are turning the history into the brilliant novel of love, friendship, hope and fight.
You can choose to watch the scenery of the village from Bell Tower or to research the catacombs and traces of the old church groups from the past. It is nice sometimes to escape the tourist pressure and to take a break on the walking tour along the Dortodgne River. The macarons of St.Èmilion are worth of trying. People believe that they have been invented by some Ursulines nuns in the 15th century. The Fabrique de Macarons is indeed an interesting place to be visited since we know that St.Èmilions macarons are worldwide famous as delicious speciality of French cuisine. Chai Pascal and LÈnvers du Décor offer the good menu for reasonable prices while LA Table de Plaisance is estimated to be the beloved spot of those who don’t care about budget. For a coffee break, I would go to Boulangerie Premier, located in the down town, cute and makes the best French pastries.
Ideal time for visit this legendary town ? I would always pick up warm and colourful summer that slowly kiss fall. There are so many possibilities for outdoor activities, that includes hiking, trekking or even biking. You are free to sit late in the night on some of the beautiful terraces, hearing the church bells, drinking your perfect glass of wine and thinking of all of those people who lived, live and will live in St.Émilion, as its own blood and soul.
For an accommodation in this French village, I would never take some of modern hotels but vintage decorated apartments (bed and breakfast) that are also available for tourists. This way, you are able to live like a local person, to feel the rhythm of the place and to share the local experiences. The hotels divide people with the sharp categories of tourism. The tiny flats for a funny amount of money, if you have a luck, give you the feeling that you belong to the town you visit.
Don’t be afraid to travel alone, to meet new people and to taste local meals. You live only once but if it is good, it is enough. If you visit St.Èmilion, you will find the whole world you need and you will always need.
Bienvenue à Saint-Émilion. Je vous souhaite un agréable séjour.
2 thoughts on “SAINT ÈMILION: THE MEDIEVAL CITY WITH LEGENDARY WINE”
Sarah’s delightful and inspiring article reminded me of Decimius Magnus Ausonius (c.310-395 CE), a Roman rhetorician and poet who praised the grapes and wine of the region: the ancient Romans planted vineyards in what was to become Saint-Émilion during the 2nd century CE.
Decimius Magnus Ausonius had achieved a high level of prestige and wealth from being the private tutor of elite Roman families, and he was extended the gift of an estate near present-day Bordeaux. When upheaval came to the empire (i.e. 383 CE – a coup occurred), he remained on his estate; composing poetry, etc. He was a reluctant Christian, and used poetic metaphor to express his pagan beliefs, to some degree.
It was a large estate and an area of about 1.6 miles across (2.5 km) was used as vineyards.
The modern village of Saint-Émilion retains the original defensive design the ancient Romans employed (i.e. circular with walls, or hedges now). Also, the surrounding countryside offers visitors a glimpse of the topography known by the ancient Romans.
What a joyous article, Sarah !
I totally concur with you in that France is a beautiful country. Sometimes, I wish I had been born in those Medieval ages, as they definitely seem more genuine and more romantic than this modern and artificial age !
Like a painter who brings her painting to life with her brush, you have brought this authentic and romantic city to life with your pen !
You have definitely made me feel like visiting Saint-Émilion and wrapping myself in that Medieval feeling !
Thank you, Sarah, for this lovely and buoyant article ! As for your illustrations, they are always perfect !