As I outlined in our Dordogne itinerary, our first day in France was spent on a road trip of sorts. We drove from Bordeaux to Sarlat, where we stayed for three nights, winding our way along to include some sightseeing as we made our way inland. Normally a two and a half hour drive, we made a day of traveling from Bordeaux to Sarlat-la-Canéda stopping in St Emilion and Mobazillac.
We landed at Bordeaux in the morning and picked up our rental car there (after waiting twenty minutes for border patrol to arrive and let us in…). The airport really embrace’s the regions famous wines, displaying huge bottles on baggage carousels and throughout the parking lot. It’s hilarious!
Once we got in the car, we headed east from the airport to the village of St Emilion. We made our way around Bordeaux proper and out into the countryside. Outside the city, the landscape became very lush and green. Sunny and warm, it was a lovely day for a drive!
Just forty-five minutes from Bordeaux, St Emilion is a picturesque village known for its wines. Set on a hill, the beautiful stone buildings and winding streets make it feel like you are stepping back in time.
There have been vineyards near the village since at least the second century, when the Romans occupied the area. This rich wine history is reflected in the many wine shops on every corner in this little village.
We arrived in St Emilion just in time for lunch. We had been given a recommendation for L’Envers du Decor. Their patio was the perfect place to snag a seat for lunch on that lovely sunny day. We were able to walk in and get a table for two for lunch.
It was a fabulous French meal that helped us feel like we were indeed on vacation straight away. We ordered glasses of St Emilion wine to sip while we enjoyed our lunches, duck for me and steak for Andrew. It was bliss.
After fueling up with food, we wandered around the village. Dramatically set in the center of St Emilion is the monolithic church, first built in the twelfth century.
We had a coffee at Amélia Canta, a well-positioned restaurant in the square at its base, and enjoyed our view and people watching.
We wandered the streets some more, taking in the gorgeous views around every corner.
Eventually, we would our way over to La Tour du Roy, which towers over the city. You can pay to enter and climb the 118 steps to the top, but due to time constraints we settled on viewing it from below. I imagine the views from the top are stunning!
The ubiquitous wine stores offer tastings, so we stopped into Marchand de Soif to find a bottle of famous St Emilion wine to bring home with us. We got to taste a couple different varieties as the knowledgeable staff helped us choose a bottle we both liked.
It was a lovely stop in St Emilion.
From there, we hopped back in the car and drove to our next destination, Monbazillac. Andrew had starred the beautiful Chateau Monbazillac on his GoogleMaps, while I had read that the area produced the best wines for pairing with foie gras. We couldn’t skip this place!
We almost missed the turn, but made it to the parking lot to discover there were many people also at the Chateau, which was surprising. The peaceful countryside drive approaching the Chateau felt like there was hardly a soul around us.
Before you reach the chateau, you come upon the tasting room. A whole purpose-built tasting room and shop have been built on the grounds so you can sample and buy what is grown on the vines surrounding Chateau Monbazillac.
Monbazillac is a sweet white desert wine that is kinda like champagne, in that it can only be a Monbazillac if it comes from this area. Desert wines aren’t really our thing, but the ones we tried at Chateau Monbazillac were actually quite good. We even bought a small bottle so that we could have some with foie gras!
After we tried some wines, we wandered over to explore the beautiful chateau and grounds. They are just beautiful.
The chateau is open to tour, but we skipped it since we still had to make our way to Sarlat. From what we could see from the outside, it is stunning.
After exploring for a bit, we got back in the car and headed to Sarlat – coming soon to the blog!