Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 15 Oct, 2011
We only have a day in Bordeaux and probably motivated by this knowledge we manage to spend what in hindsight appears to be an incredibly busy day in the city on the Garonne. Bordeaux was a bit of a revelation for me. I had no…Read More
We only have a day in Bordeaux and probably motivated by this knowledge we manage to spend what in hindsight appears to be an incredibly busy day in the city on the Garonne. Bordeaux was a bit of a revelation for me. I had no expectations of the city as I hardly knew anything of it before we came to visit, but what I found was wonderful. I am not sure if it wasn't partially an exhilaration of simply being a CITY – especially a studenty one with a bit of an edge to it – any city, really, after spending almost four weeks in the Breton countryside. But I still think that Bordeaux specifically has a lot going for it. We managed to somehow drive into the city (easy) and find a centrally located car park (harder, and involving driving into a restricted area as well as what appeared to be wrong way up a one way street). We should have taken the bus, probably. But now the car is parked and we are ready to start our tour of Bordeaux. The first glimpses are encouraging, of a handsome city of golden stone, old and yet full of young people, lively and energetic. Apparently, Bordeaux underwent a major rejuvenation in the last ten years or so, with large areas of the centre pedestrianised and renovated and now Bordeaux's core forms the largest UNESCO World Heritage listed urban site in the world. It used to be called a Sleeping Beauty, but it appears to be a very much awake one now. We walk from the car park on Cours Victor Hugo to one of the city gates, the Grosse Cloche (the gate of the Great Bell). Originally the belfry of the old town hall constructed in the 15th century over a 13th century building and the bell was rung in times of danger or celebration as well as signalling the beginning of the grape harvest. It stands now, beautifully restored, over a handsomely paved and partially pedestrianised pointed arch, its two 40m-tall side-towers topped with conical helmets, and a golden leopard leaping over the central lantern, the gate of the Grosse Cloche is a beautiful doorway to the old Bordeaux.Beyond the gate, a maze of streets extends towards the heart of the city with its magnificent Gothic cathedral (Cathedral Saint-Andre) and towards the riverside boulevards. Although the Grosse Cloche and the Cathedral are medieval, most of the Bordeaux's urban fabric dates to the Classical and Neo-Classical period, presenting an exceptional unity of the whole architectural ensemble, a place of material and cultural exchange; a living, breathing city with Enlightenment flowing in its veins, Close
Written by MichaelJM on 16 May, 2006
Apparently the town producing one of our favourite French wines is the oldest wine-producing town in France and we were keen to view it. The town clings on the side of a south facing hill and the belfry acts as a great orientation. We were…Read More
Apparently the town producing one of our favourite French wines is the oldest wine-producing town in France and we were keen to view it. The town clings on the side of a south facing hill and the belfry acts as a great orientation. We were mightily impressed of the view down over the cluster of red pantiled roofs from the Place des Creneax, but having struggled up the tower (you’ll need to be fit to manage this one) there is a more superior view over the town and the surrounding countryside—the regimented fields of meticulously cared for vines.
Although the town has a high reputation for its wine it should also be known for its underground church. The Eglise Monolithe is the largest underground church in France and it must have involved blood, sweat and tears as centuries of workers bludgeoned their way into the hillside. Initially the hermit, St Emilion carved his home into the rock back in the 8th century and in this small compact "residence" he had running water (a natural spring), a Chair (hewn out of the rock), and a bed (identified as the crudely formed ledge). Trinity Chapel was built, by Benedictine monks, in the 13th century as a sanctuary to celebrate the life of St Emilion. It is still possible to see parts of the original fresco, including a scene allegedly of St Emilion stooped in prayer. Personally my imagination let me down at the point that the tour guide (you can only view the church with a local guide) explained this to us.
The church itself is just incredible and this huge place of worship has three aisles, hefty square pillars, impressive vaulting and intriguing carving of angels and monsters around the altar. Apparently it was covered in murals in its early days but over the generations the damp conditions have made it virtually indistinguishable. Whilst her you will be shown the catacombs where three chambers, moulded out of the limestone rock, were initially used as a cemetery but later as an ossuary.
Next to the belfry are St Emilion’s cloisters. I just love to wander the cloisters, enjoy the calmness and enjoy the sense of history that accompanies them. Somehow they never seem to loose their mystic and I enjoy the smell and the tactileness of the limestone environment. I can almost hear the chants of those 14th-century monks!
If you're wondering what happened to all the rock dug out for the church then look no further than some of St Emilion's ancient houses. Many of the dwellings are seriously chunky structures with thick walls (cool in Summer and warm in Winter) with higgledy-piggledy roofs giving them a sense of real character.
There are plenty of cellars to call in and sample the local wine and the town has some great restaurants serving up local delicacies. You don't have to pay high prices to eat well in St Emilion. Just feel the atmosphere!
Written by MichaelJM on 14 May, 2006
In 1999 the jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion, covering over 7,500 hectares, was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The borders were established at the end of the 13th century, by Edward 1st of England and it's important to realise that the region is made up…Read More
In 1999 the jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion, covering over 7,500 hectares, was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The borders were established at the end of the 13th century, by Edward 1st of England and it's important to realise that the region is made up of a total of seven other communes. Now we’ve drunk a fair bit of their wine, and we were intent on exploring this town renown for its prolific production of top rated red wine. The wine we knew to be supple and fruity with a fair degree of alcohol giving a well rounded and full-bodied taste. We also knew it to be in the higher price range of quality wine. So you won’t be surprised that we decided to have a tasting or two. Indeed the small chateau that we opted for insisted that we try a dozen wines in total and he tempted us with six "full-blown" St Emilion and half a dozen from outside of the appellation which he described as "good quality" Bordeaux. The monsieur created a game out of the tasting and wanted us to guess the appellation and rate the wines in our preference. Not being wine connoisseurs (although we know a bad bottle when we taste it!) we entered into the spirit of the contest with a little apprehension. But as we progressed (I had to be careful to "spit not swallow") we got into the routine and had, somewhat alarmingly, the higher priced St Emilion wine in our top five. The proprietor was delighted because the one we had rejected was a younger wine and a "little thin".Having spent a good 45 minutes tasting the wine and attempting to make full use of my school boy French we decided to examine the price guide. Our top rated wine was a little on the pricey side, even by UK standards, but we did leave with half a case of mixed St Emilion. Strange they never did make it out of France as we just had to "try them again" as we tarried over our evening meals back at the Gite and considered the splendour of the St-Emilion communes.There's Saint-Christophe des Bardes, with its ancient fortress, perched on a plateau overlooking the Dordogne valley; St-Etienne de Lisse a pretty village with a delightful 12th Century church; St-Hippolyte near the great 16th Century chateau and the Ferrand grottoes; St-Laurent des Combes with superb views over the Dordogne landscape; St-Pey d’Armens, noted for a magnificent Romanesque church; St-Sulpice de Faleyrens, boasting a 5m high menhir that even Asterix would be proud of; and Vignonet, at the bottom of the St-Emilion plateau, and almost surrounded by a loop of the Dordogne river.
The area abounds with fields of vines, there are some superb vistas and of course there are no shortage of chateaux for tasting! À votre santé!
Written by Jim Rosenberg on 15 Oct, 2000
If you long for a quaint village with history, good taste and a place to take wonderful photos, St. Emilion is an outstanding choice. A worthy pilgrimage for lovers of fine Bordeaux wine, I've yet to have a poor bottle of St. Emilion and its…Read More
If you long for a quaint village with history, good taste and a place to take wonderful photos, St. Emilion is an outstanding choice. A worthy pilgrimage for lovers of fine Bordeaux wine, I've yet to have a poor bottle of St. Emilion and its crafters rank among the world's very best.
The village itself is accustomed to tourists, but we didn't feel it detracted from the authenticity of its ancient and lovingly restored streets and buildings. There is a wealth of educational information available for those who care to take guided tours in the heart of the village and you will learn the story of its patron Saint. For engineering types, check out the chapel restoration project -- it's quite an undertaking and you can see the work in progress.
There are many wonderful places to eat -- just reading the menus outside the doors while searching for lunch is entertainment in itself. Well-tended vineyards cover the region and we were fortunate to visit one in Fronsac which can't be named here because they don't actually offer tours. Happily for us, the woman of the chateau graciously showed us the operation from top to bottom and then took an hour in the tasting room with us. We took a case of her marvelous product which, unfortunately, is not available in the U.S. since the label lacks a negotiante here. I plead guilty to having hidden what may be the very last bottle on the North American continent. St. Emilion is well worth the good part of a day that you can spend there. Afterward, you will have memories of this charming village every time you read a wine label that takes you back to its wonderful source.
Written by eros on 24 Dec, 2002
Bordeaux has the second-longest shopping street in Europe. It is so long, it would take approximately an hour to walk it, especially with the big crowds that go here daily. You have all brand names here: Calvin Klein, Gap, Levi's, and many others. Shopping is…Read More
Bordeaux has the second-longest shopping street in Europe. It is so long, it would take approximately an hour to walk it, especially with the big crowds that go here daily. You have all brand names here: Calvin Klein, Gap, Levi's, and many others. Shopping is rather expensive here.
Along the sides of the street, you have the small food guys where you can get hot dogs, burgers, pretty much anything that's fast food. I was there during a heat wave, and to be honest, you'll want to bring plenty of water. The street is made of some type of rock that gets very warm, so it is very easy to get dehydrated.
The way to describe the layout: you have one long shopping street and an adjacent one that's slightly smaller. Interconnecting these streets are small pedestrian streets, where you can find anything you want, from antiques to souveniers. I found an Internet cafe which I remember because the logo was an egg . . . what an egg has to do with the Internet, I dunno, but it caught my attention. I then couldn't find it the next day, and my friend thought I imagined it but thankfully we both came across it on our last day so i convinced my friend I wasn't loopy :-)