Sunday, September 27, 2009


Since moving to San Francisco, I've discovered a profound love of wine (something I somehow missed out on while living in France) and I've been dying to get back there and go tasting ever since. So, we made it a point to set aside a day trip to the small town of St. Emilion on this vacation. Perched on the hill and surrounded by vineyards, the village is absolutely picturesque. Many of the buildings are even carved out of the limestone hill, contributing to its UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

There were only 2 trains leaving from Bordeaux in the morning, one at 7am and one at 10:30. We wanted to make the most of our day, so we opted for the earlier train. Inevitably we missed the tram from the house and ended up walking/running 45 min. to the train station. It honestly felt like an episode of The Amazing Race. My friend Vanessa was softly humming the Speed theme music as we jogged through the deserted streets. We managed to hop on the train with moments to spare. I should have expected as much, it seems to be a common theme in my European travels, but at least it makes for a more interesting story in the end...

We arrived in St. Emilion at the "crack of dawn" (as my family loves to say). There wasn't a soul in sight, but the light across the vineyards was breathtaking- well worth our early morning exercise. We wandered the village, checking out the deserted alleys, the cathedral cloisters, etc. until the tourist office finally opened at 10:30. There, we were able to rent bikes and embark on our self-guided tour. We tried using the maps they provided for about 5 minutes, but with directions like, "turn left at the mail box, go down past the row of trees and then right when you see the rose bush", we obviously didn't make it very far.

Unfortunately, every winery we stopped at was closed- because it was the weekend, because they were at lunch, because they wanted to take a nap...there were a million reasons. The French just aren't very concerned with making money. We did finally find a couple places that let us taste. Fortunately for us, we stumbled into one of the Premiere Grand Cru vineyards (that means the best of the best) and got a full tour of their facilities after which they almost convinced me to drop 60 euros on a bottle of wine. It was sooooo good! It should peak in about 20-25 years- what a lesson in patience!

Despite the fact that we were unable to drink copious amounts of wine like we'd intended, the day turned out to be amazing. The bikes were a perfect way to see the countryside, the weather was beautiful, and we capped it all off with a nice nap in the park.

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