Giza Pyramids, Grand Canyon, Machu Pichu, Taj Mahal and St Emilion France. Nearly 1,000 sites and cities have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. It means they hold a significant historical or natural value and should be preserved for all humanity. St. Emilion is not as well known but it is a pretty amazing town. It is located on a rocky hill about an hour East of Bordeaux. The rocky hill is key to why it became such a unique place worth preserving. Hundreds or maybe even thousands of years ago – the rock of the hill was quarried for city building materials. Very resourceful, this left the city with over 200 miles of tunnels. Caves and tunnels are perfect for wine making. All around the hill city are acres of vineyards and wineries.
Every other store front in St Emilion is a winery with free tastings. Brent scouted one that kicks it up a notch by offering an educational film about the area and walks you through the wine making process. We thought this was better with the kids tagging along. Alas, a sign on their door said they were closed – just for today. What timing we have. We were still able to enjoy the views of all the vineyards – it is this landscape that is reason #1 why St Emilion is a UNESCO site.
We had lunch in a square that was right next to their monolith church. It is in the background behind Arden. It looks a bit rough. It is the 2nd reason the town is a UNESCO site. We toured yet ANOTHER church and the kids were interested in this one. It was not built in the traditional style – it was carved out of the rock. They carved the whole church out of the rock, it was amazing, the inside looks just like a number of churches we have seen. It is old and is rarely used as a place of worship. A bell tower was built on top of the church/mountain. It dominates the city skyline. You can see it towering above Scarlet’s head in the photo below.
The city has preserved the medieval charm. There are the strange narrow rocky streets and very steep ones called Tertres. This is the only place in France where the term Tertre is used.
There are a number of surviving medieval elements all over the town. They made walking around the town like a scavenger hunt.
They also made for some fun pictures. If only the sun had been a little more cooperative a photo of an old Keep would be included. For a few Euro you can climb to the top for some great photos of the area. The city doesn’t know why or for who the Keep/castle was built. But it is another impressive element of this small city in France.
According to the town literature 1998 was a very good year. I’m going to start paying attention to wine lists in the future to see if we come across a bottle from this gem of a town.