Updated September 2023
One of my favorite parts of spending part of the summer in Bordeaux was the premium access that we had to the nearby towns. Whether you’re looking to do a day trip or plan a full weekend, Saint-Émilion is a historic commune in the Gironde department in southwestern France.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is most famous for its vineyard landscape that truly takes your breath away. That said, there are so many wineries to explore, making it a dream destination for those who appreciate the art of vino.
Between the monolithic church, underground quarries, medieval architecture, and cobblestone streets, Saint-Émilion boasts a rich history for winegrowers and beyond. Whether you’re looking to celebrate something special or are simply in need of a weekend away, here is my quick guide to visiting Saint-Émilion from Bordeaux!
Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Hotels in Saint-Émilion:
- Hotel de Pavie, for the best boutique hotel
- Chateau Hotel Grand Barrail, for the best chateau stay
- Logis de la Cadene, for the best in-town hotel
If you’re planning a trip to Bordeaux, be sure to check out my ultimate guide to Bordeax and my in-depth guides on the best hotels, the best restaurants, things to do in the city, and things to do nearby!
A Guide to Spending a Day in Saint Émilion, France
How to Get to Saint-Émilion
How to Get to Saint-Émilion from Bordeaux
Saint Émilion is a great day trip option from Bordeaux. Here are a few ways to get there:
Thankfully, there is a direct train ride from Bordeaux that can get you to Saint-Émilion in only 35 minutes.
Though it is not quite as convenient as the train, taking a bus from Bordeaux to Saint-Émilion is by far the cheapest option. The TransGironde only operates during the high season and it gets a bit complex, so Bus number 302 which leaves from Quinconces station is your best bet.
Since Saint-Émilion is so large, having a car gives you more freedom to explore the surrounding areas. It is super easy to rent a car, as there are plenty of rental companies at the Bordeaux airport and Gare Saint-Jean train station.
If you’d like a more turnkey experience, consider this highly-rated Bordeaux to Saint-Émilion guided day trip. Setting out from Bordeaux, it includes wine tastings in Saint Emilion or Pomerol chateaux and a 45-minuted guided walk through the picturesque streets of Saint-Emilion. Book the tour here.
How to get to Saint-Émilion From Elsewhere
Most places near Saint-Émilion will have a train that can take you to the city. Simply find the largest train station in your area and look through the various routes. That said, renting a car is never a bad idea. Being able to drive yourself around gives you more freedom and takes some of the stress out of traveling.
Where to Stay in Saint-Émilion
Logis de la Cadene is located right in the center of Saint-Émilion, giving you walking access to some of the best restaurants and sites. There is a wonderful spa where you can indulge in a massage or facial, as well as stunning gardens to explore during downtime. The rooms are simple yet cozy, and the on-site restaurant is one of the oldest in Saint-Émilion. Book the best rates here.
Situated right next to the Dordogne River, Chateau Hotel Grand Barrail is something straight out of a fairytale. From the grand spa that features 4 beauty cabins and a sauna, to the on-site restaurant that serves upscale regional cuisine, this place is all about timeless luxury. I highly recommend using the bike rental service and strolling through the idyllic property and surrounding streets. Book the best rates here.
What could be better than having a premium winery just steps outside your hotel room? Hotel de Pavie is home to everything from an on-site winery to the fine-dining restaurant La Table de Plaisance. There are only 17 rooms on the property, so the vibe here is very exclusive and intimate. Book the best rates here.
Located less than 10 miles outside of Saint-Émilion, Bleu Raisin is a cozy and quaint bed and breakfast. The 19th-century exterior is met with a more contemporary interior, and each room has a terrace with stunning vineyard views. Book the best rates here.
With only four rooms across the entire property, Clos 1906 offers a very private and intimate experience. There is a beautiful outdoor pool that guests can use during the warmer months, and there is also an optional continental breakfast served each morning. Book the best rates here.
Patrons can enjoy hazy morning views from the infinity pool deck each morning at Lassere. From bike rentals to the panoramic terraces attached to each room, Lassere provides modern luxury for guests seeking refuge in Saint-Émilion. There is also a brunch-style breakfast served each morning so that you can always start your day off on the right foot. Book the best rates here.
Where to Eat in Saint-Émilion
Though Saint-Émilion is known for its historic wine region, it is also a foodie’s dream destination. In fact, Saint-Émilion is a major place for Michelin-guide restaurants. Whether you’re looking for an upscale Michelin-starred dinner or a laid-back bistro, Saint-Émilion has it all!
Located in the Hotel de Pavie, Le Table de Pavie boasts two Michelin stars, making it a great spot to celebrate something special. You can choose between a coursed tasting experience or a la carte ordering. Best of all, the innovative and modern food pairs nicely with the locally-sourced wine list.
Between the vineyard views and the red accents throughout the space, La Terrasse Rouge sets the scene for an incredible culinary experience. If you’re looking to be extra fancy, start your meal off with caviar service. I also highly recommend saving room for the Snickers-inspired dessert.
Founded in 1987, L’Envers du Decor is an upscale bistro and wine bar that has a modern and funky atmosphere. It is open every day for both lunch and dinner, and the menu changes with the seasons. Everything here is so fresh. Even the bread is made daily on-site!
Located in Logis de la Cadène, Le Restaurant de Logis de la Cadène is one of the oldest restaurants in Saint-Émilion. As a family-owned restaurant, earning a Michelin star is a huge accomplishment. The vibe here truly makes you feel at home, and eating here is sure to make an impression.
Dining in a cellar just seems fitting in Saint-Émilion. The menu at Lard et Bouchon is innovative without being overwhelming, and the Burgundy snails are a must-order.
There is perhaps no better pairing in the culinary world than that of cheese and wine. Thankfully, that’s what Le Bis specializes in. Since there are so many different cheeses and wines to choose from, you waiter will walk you through the best pairings.
Between the fine wines and fresh seasonal products, Chai Pascal is an inviting and warm restaurant that is great for a romantic yet laid-back dinner. The menu features everything from fresh oysters to classic French dishes like Croque monsieur.
Open daily from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Fromagerie La Moineaudiere is the ultimate spot for high-quality grab-and-go sandwiches in Saint-Émilion. In addition to both hot and cold sandwiches, this adorable shop also sells gourmet cheeses that you can take for a nice picnic near the vineyards.
Things to Do in Saint-Émilion
Explore the Town by Foot
Simply walking along the cobblestone roads and taking in medieval architecture is a wonderful way to spend some time in Saint-Émilion. The bell tower on top of the monolithic church is an iconic sight to take in, and I highly recommend bringing your camera for some cool, vintage-inspired shots.
You can even visit the tourist center to rent keys that will give you access to the bell tower so that you can enjoy a truly epic view of the village.
Drink Wine in a Historic Cloister
Cloître des Cordeliers is considered to be the heart of Saint-Émilion. It is truly a picturesque place that oozes culture and history. While there, you can visit Les Cordeliers, which is an amazing underground labyrinth where you can taste crisp sparkling wines.
Go Underground at the Monolithic Church
If you’re interested in experiencing the darker side of Saint-Émilion, the underground monolithic church is a unique experience that is unlike any other. The church was built between the 12th and 15th centuries, and the majority of the structure is made from limestone. You’ll need to book a legit tour to experience the church, so be sure to plan your visit in advance.
Have a Michelin Star-Rated Meal
Saint-Émilion has a shockingly large number of Michelin-starred restaurants. In fact, if you’re a foodie looking to truly indulge in quality meals, Saint-Émilion is the place to do it. From La Terrasse Rouge to Château Grand Barrail, there are plenty of amazing restaurants to choose from.
Try the Famous Macaroons from Fabrique de Macarons
Located at 9 rue Guadet, Fabrique de Macarons allows you to experience true decadence. Nadia Fermigier has truly mastered the art of macarons. Other stores in Saint-Émilion sell them, but Fabrique de Macaron is the original and you need to experience Nadia Fermigier’s talent first-hand.
Enjoy the Weekly Market
From gourmet cheeses to fresh produce, visiting the weekly market is a great way to stock up on some special ingredients and immerse yourself in the local community. The Branne and Coutras markets take place every Wednesday and Saturday.
The Libourne market is a bit bigger and has a wider range of options, which takes place every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. Keep in mind that all of the markets get pretty busy, so you’ll want to arrive as early as you can.
Wine Tasting in Saint-Émilion
Saint-Émilion is one of the most amazing places to enjoy French wines in the entire country. That said, all of the chateaux require appointments, so it is important to plan ahead and make reservations if you plan on exploring on your own.
Since there are so many amazing spots, I would seriously consider setting up a guided tour. The tourism office’s website is also updated daily and highlights the wineries that have availability without a reservation.
Saint-Émilion Wineries to Consider a Tasting At
- Château de Pressac — Château de Pressac is a beautiful winery that overlooks the valley, offering a stunning setting for your tasting. This winery has been around for more than six centuries and gives you a true taste of the local history and culture.
- Château Guibeau — Located in Puisseguin, Château Guibeau is a family-owned winery that places a focus on organic farming. You are able to book either a tasting that is paired with a meal or a simple tour of the vineyard. Either way, you’ll get to meet and chat with the owner to hear more about the history and story behind Château Guibeau.
- Château Coutet — Hundred of vintages have come to be thanks to Château Coutet. Located right near the river, the setting at Château Coutet is beyond idyllic, and guests can enjoy everything from a traditional tasting for two to exciting hands-on workshops.
- Château Ferrand — Between the castle-like estate and ultra-modern interior, Château Ferrand offers a one-of-a-kind wine tasting experience in Saint-Émilion. Having been in operation since 1702, there is a ton of history to explore at Château Ferrand. You can even enjoy a private lunch or dinner on the property.
Guided Winery Tours to Consider Booking
- Most Popular Half-Day Tour from Bordeaux
- This tour through Get Your Guide — allows you to tour the village before visiting two châteaux that are right along the Dordogne River. The tour is 5.5 hours, so while it will definitely take up the majority of the day, it isn’t too long. For under $100, this is a really great tour that allows you to taste four wines and enjoy other things like fresh produce, an aperitif, and a hands-on learning experience.
- Small Group Tour that is More Private — If you like the idea of a guided tour but want an intimate experience, this is a great option. This tour is only four hours long and includes one tasting at a Classified Growth Chateau in Saint-Émilion. There is also a walking portion of the tour that takes you past the Romanesque churches and ruins of the village.
- Full Day Tour — Those ready to truly commit to a day packed full of wine tastings will favor this tour. For eight hours, a small group with a maximum of eight people gets to visit and taste three wineries and take a walking tour of the village. Transportation is included and you’ll move from château to château in spacious minivans.
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