Planning your visit to Saint Emilion

Planninc a trip to Saint Emilion - eladywine, Wine Lady

Whether you’re looking for information on getting to Saint Emilion, what to pack, what to do (and not do), where to drive, or planning the program of your wine visits in the area, you may appreciate some firsthand tips from the local lady in wine. Here’s your ultimate guide to Saint Emilion!

I’ve compiled 13 practical tips just for you, in order to deliver you the information and inspiration to help you prepare yourself and your guests for dream Saint-Emilion vacation.

Moreover, if you are looking for help to design your dream holidays in Saint Emilion, you’re very welcome to check out my wine tasting workshops and excursions. Or, if you’d prefer to get a unique service, read more about my personalized wine tasting workshops and personalized excursions.

 

  • The seasons in Saint Emilion

Spring

In this area, springs are very unpredictable if it comes to weather. The temperatures vary from 10 Celsius degrees, up to 30C. It may be sunny or it may rain, with evenings and mornings being rather cool.

April seems to be the first warmer month of the year. However, it usually brings many different weather conditions, therefore within one week you may experience hot sunny days, storms, cold and wet days and night frosts (very dangerous for vines!).

In April, as well, the town of Saint Emilion starts to wake up from the winter dormancy, and more shops and restaurants, altogether with tourist attractions, are open for visitors.

Therefore if you are visiting Bordeaux Right Bank in spring, take short sleeves, but don’t forget a warm jumper and a waterproof coat or umbrella.

 

Summer

Summers are usually hot, about 30-35 Celsius degrees, with slightly cooler nights (that’s why the climate here is perfect for growing vines, as there’s a significant difference in the temperatures between days and nights!). You may as well experience some lovely summer showers followed by beautiful rainbows above the vineyards. In some years we’ve experienced hail as well, which may be very dangerous for vines!

Each year during the summer we register some cooler and wet days or weeks, which are pretty much appreciated by the locals as they bring fresh breeze that gives a nice break between hot summer weeks.

 

Moreover, in August the grapes change colours (this process is called veraison) and each day you may notice a difference in the vineyards, having more and more rainbow spherules on the vines – don’t forget to take your camera with you when going for a walk among vines!

Here’s a ‘what to wear’ tip for tourists who are going to visit this area during the summer – take your swimming costume and lots of summer clothes and comfortable sandals and don’t forget your sun protection cream. However, try to fit a warm jumper and umbrella to your suitcase as well, as you may need it, especially when visiting the underground wine cellars.

Very important: make sure you always have plenty of water with you when going for a walk among the vines or in the town. Don’t forget the sunscreen and hat to protect you from the sun!

 

Fall / Autumn

This is one of the most beautiful times of a year in this area. Early fall is usually still hot (25-30C) and sunny with cooler evenings. Late fall, however, can be cold and rather wet (temperatures may drop to even 10C). Therefore taking mixed clothing will be a good idea.

The vineyards are spectacular during autumn: it’s usually a breathtaking variation of greens, yellows, purples and red colours. As it is a harvest time, you may witness people picking grapes and many producers may be processing the grapes in front of their wineries – such an interesting view!

 

Winter

Usually winters are very wet with lots of rainfalls, and cold (5-10 Celsius degrees) with weeks when the temperatures may drop to 0 Celsius degrees, or even less. Some days in the mornings you may notice a morning frost on the vines, but the snow isn’t typical for Bordeaux landscape.

Furthermore, most of the tourist attractions are no longer open for visitors, same with chateaux and tourist shops. Even many restaurants are closed for this period of time. When planning your trip to Saint Emilion in winter, make sure you firstly check out whether the places you’d like to see will be open or not. And take warm jumpers and winter waterproof coats with you rather than short sleeves.

The three (tourist) seasons in Saint Emilion

As for tourist, it is important to know that we distinguish three seasons:

  • Off season, from November to April
  • Mid-season, from April to June and from September to October
  • High-season – July and August

The prices of rental holiday apartments and tourist attractions may vary between mid-season and high-season, as well as many of them may be closed for visitors during the off-season.

 

  • Best time to come to Saint Emilion

With no doubts, summer tends to be the busiest and the best time of a year in the Aquitaine to come and visit Saint Emilion. July, August and first half of September are very busy, not only because of visitors arriving to see the world-famous chateaux, but also many tourists are attracted by the beaches and lagoons along the Atlantic coast nearby. During this high-season all tourist attractions are open for visitors, and there are plenty of tourist activities in Saint Emilion to chose from.

In France August is the typical holiday time, when most of people take their holidays in the first half of the month. Therefore year by year it is the busiest month if it comes to the amount of tourists coming to visit the medieval town of Saint Emilion and its surroundings. If you can deal with crowds, then August will be a perfect time for you to visit Saint Emilion. Be aware, however, that smaller chateaux, which are not focused on wine tourism, may be closed because of their holiday break.

Summertime and early fall are very beautiful and attractive for visitors, not only because of the vineyards in their most beautiful shape (in August don’t miss veraison – when grapes change colours), but as well because of the harvest time and all the preparations that are going on in the vineyards and wineries.

If you would like to spend calm and lovely holidays in the area, think of coming here in the mid-season (April, May, early June or September – October).

Since April the weather is becoming warmer, and most of the tourist attractions are open for visitors. The vineyards are awaken from their winter dormancy and start to look really beautiful when growing and flowering and most of the chateaux welcome guests for tours and tastings on a daily basis.

In late September and early October the weather is still quite warm, although you may experience some rain as well. The vineyards look fabulous during and just after harvest and it’s truly worthwhile visiting. Most of the tourist attractions are still open for visitors, yet it’s best to check if all of the activities you’d like to do will be available. Many of the prices, such as for renting your holiday apartment, may be a bit lower in April/May/ late September and October, in comparison to June, July, August and early September.

 

  • Not the best, but still good time to visit Saint Emilion

January, February and March are usually the coldest and wettest months of the year when most of the tourist attractions are still not open for visitors. You may be surprised how many holidays’ apartments as well as restaurants are closed for their winter break. The winter months I call ‘sleeping months’, as very little happens in the area, and you can’t see any tourists here (and barely any locals!).

April is the first month, when tourist attractions are open for visitors and the medieval town of Saint Emilion comes back to life after winter holidays. However, be aware of the first week (or the second one, depending on a year) of April, as it is the ‘En Primeurs’ time, and chateaux are very busy with welcoming wine professionals for tastings of their previous vintage. Most of chateaux will be closed for tourists, and Saint Emilion is extremely busy during En Primeurs week.

Every two years (in odd years) in mid June Bordeaux welcomes wine professionals for the world’s largest trade fair, Vinexpo. The city of Bordeaux gets very busy, with many visitors travelling to Saint Emilion (days before or after the wine fair). Moreover, June is as well a month, when we have Bordeaux Fete le Vin (Bordeaux Wine Festival) which, as well, gathers around not only wine professionals, but as well wine lovers, and many of them come to visit Saint Emilion.

August is ‘the worst’ time to come, if you don’t deal well with crowds. July and first half of September are, as well, extremely busy. If you don’t like to queue for tickets nor wait for the table to eat lunch, you may better consider coming in May/early June or late September /October.

The first week of September is usually busy, as it’s a ‘back to school’ time for children, and in general locals come back to their typical routine after holidays. Moreover, in September and October there is harvest time, and wine producers are very busy with planning the harvest, and then picking and processing grapes. Many of the chateaux may not welcome visitors during the harvest, therefore it’s best to check. However, it is one of the most beautiful and interesting time of a year in here and worth experiencing.

It starts getting cold in November and there’s a high risk of heavy autumn rains. Most of the tourist attractions are no longer open and from mid November on you rather won’t visit too much in Saint Emilion. Therefore if you are planning to come in November, it is best to check what’s still open during your stay. Furthermore, at the end of November each year there’s a Vinitech Sifel in Bordeaux, when about 45000 wine professionals come to visit Bordeaux and those three days are usually very busy.

In December there are very little tourists in the area and most of the tourist attractions and chateaux are closed for visitors according to their winter break. If you, however, are planning your holidays in December, make sure not to miss the beautiful Christmas markets in Saint Emilion and its surroundings.

 

  • What to wear when visiting Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion is a very special place, not only because of its importance in the wine world, religious and historical findings and architecture, but as well because of its tricky temperature ambiance and original steep tertres (streets).

Considering the cobblestone steep streets in Saint Emilion, I advise you to wear comfortable, flat shoes. Forget about high heels (trust me, I’ve made this mistake too many times and I’ve learned my lesson in a hard way) otherwise you will find walking in the town barely possible.

Saint Emilion is all about walking, visiting historical monuments and tasting wine. Therefore you will be either climbing up (on a Bell Tower or Chateau du Roy) or visiting undergrounds (queries, catacombs, underground caves where monk Emilion spent the rest of his life, or wine cellars of the famous chateaux), as well as you will most likely visit two Saint Emilion churches from the pilgrim routes (the Monolithic Church or the Collegiate Church) – in each of these places there will be a significant difference in the temperature between the outdoor city and the undergrounds /indoors. It will be a good idea to take a jumper or sweater with you, especially when you are going to visit underground wine cellars, as there is a constant temperature around 13-15 Celsius degrees and you may spend in there 15-20 minutes.

The big amplitudes between the temperatures during the day and night may be as well uncomfortable for many tourists. As the evenings are much cooler than days in this area, consider taking a jumper with you when going out for dinner or visiting Saint Emilion by night.

Most of the chateaux have gravel driveways, therefore – once again – high heels are not recommended. Be careful with wearing white clothes when going for a red wine tasting or while visiting the undergrounds, as it is quite easy to come back home with some stains that may be really difficult to get rid of.

If you are visiting the town during the sunny and hot days, do not forget your sunscreen in order to avoid skin sun burn.

 

  • How to get to Saint Emilion

By plane

There are two airports nearby, Bordeaux Merignac Aeroport (about 40km from Saint Emilion) and Bergerac Aeroport (about 60km from Saint Emilion).

To get to Saint Emilion from Bordeaux Airport, you first need to get to Bordeaux. Apart from taking a taxi (very expensive) or renting a car (you may not want it), you may use the public transport (line n. 1 is a direct link between airport and Saint-Jean train station, a single ticket costs about 1.6e, and it departs every 10 minutes both ways) or shuttle service (the shuttle operates all year round, every day and is a direct connection between airport and train station, departing once to twice per hour; ticket price for an adult cost around 8e)

 

By car

The GPS coordinates for Saint Emilion town are: 44.8944° N, 0.1557° W

Motorway A10 (Paris-Bordeaux), take the exit Saint Andre de Cubzac, and then follow directions to Saint Emilion (about 30km).

Motorway A62 (Toulouse-Bordeaux), take the exit La Reole (or Langon), and then follow directions to Saint Emilion (about 50km).

Motorway A89 (Clermont-Ferrand – Perigueux – Bordeaux), take the exit Libourne and then for another about 11 km follow the directions to Saint Emilion.

And a few roads:  D664 (Bordeaux – Libourne – Angouleme), D670 (Saint Andre-de-Cubzac – Libourne – La Reole – Marmande), D936 (Bordeaux – Bergerac) or the ring road Atlantic coast (Paris – Libourne – Bordeaux).

 

By train

The trains in here are operated by SNCF, and to get to Saint Emilion you take the line 26 Sarlat – Bergerac – Bordeaux. The train departs every about two hours, in both directions. Considering many French strikes, it is advised to check out the SNCF site in order to make sure your trains are on schedule.

A URL link to SNCF Saint Emilion – click here

A URL link to Saint Emilion time table in PDF– click here To check the time table click here

The Saint Emilion train station (‘gare’ in French) is about 10-15 minutes walk from the lower part of the medieval town. If you choose to walk, you will enjoy beautiful views of the vineyards around you, as well as famous chateaux that you will be passing by on your way.

If you are not that much of a walk-lover or have bigger luggage with you, you may book in advance a tuk-tuk shuttle that will take you from the train station to the centre of Saint Emilion. One way shuttle transport per person cost about 3e and the tuk-tuk-shuttle is available everyday during the season from 9:30 – 18:00. To learn more check out their website – click here

 

By bus

The bus line 302 in relation Bordeaux Quinconces Orleans – Saint Emilion Bourg departs twice a day, yet only in summer! (end of June – September). To visit TransGironde website click here

To check out the PDF time table for line 302 (winter schedule) click here

 

 

  • Driving the car in France

Under French law

In France we drive on the right side of the road, and overtake on the left. You must give way to police and other emergency vehicles (fire brigade, ambulance, gendarmerie, etc). You need to give way to vehicles coming from the right.

The use of horn is prohibited in built-up areas, except in danger. Warning must be given by flashing passing light (between sunset and sunrise) and use horn only in case of real danger.

The driver and all of the passengers need to have the seat-belts on – the driver of the vehicle is responsible for ensuring that all the passengers are wearing seat-belt.

Moreover, the driver is responsible for passengers under 18 to wear appropriate restraint. It is prohibited for children under 10 to travel on the front seat of the vehicle. Children less than 10 years old (and lighter than 36 kg) must travel in an approved restraint or the child seat.

You need to be over 18 years old to drive in France (doesn’t matter if you have a foreign driving license when being less than 18 years old).

You always have with you the following documents:

  • Your valid ID or passport
  • Your valid driving license (EU and EEA countries are accepted)
  • A proof of insurance
  • The car registration document

 

All drivers have been prohibited from wearing headsets, earphones and headphones whilst driving. You are not allowed to use neither the devices capable of detecting speed cameras and warning drivers of their location, nor the GPS-based systems capable of displaying fixed speed camera location.

Read more about regulations regarding driving a car in France.

 

When traveling to certain cities, you need a Crit’Air sticker displayed on your windscreen. Read more about Crit’Air stickers here

 

Pedestrians

If you are a pedestrian, however, you need to know that the cars need to stop and let you cross the road if you are waiting on the zebra crossing, yet please make sure you look left-right-left before crossing the road and put a lot of attention on cars that come towards you.

Do not assume all the drivers will stop to let you cross the road to the other side, as although they suppose to stop, many drivers don’t (especially non-French number plates)!

 

Required car equipment in France

If you are coming from other country and driving your personal car, make sure you have all the equipment required by low – reflective jackets, warning triangle, headlamp beam deflectors, breathalyzers and spare bulbs.

 

Speed limits in France

Motorways – 130km/h (110 km/h in rain; 50km/h when visibility is less than 50m)

Urban motorways or dual carriage -110km/h (100km/h in rain; 50 km/h when visibility is less than 50m)

Other roads – 90 km/h (80km/h in rain; 50km/h when visibility is less than 50m)

Built up areas – 50km/h (50km/h in rain; 50km/h when visibility is less than 50km)

Important! From the 1st of July 2018 the speed limit in France will change and all the roads with the speed limit 90km/h will now be 80km/h.

Read more: here and here

 

In case of emergency

If you break down on French motorway, you need to use the orange emergency telephones (you’ll find them every about 2km along main roads and motorways) in order to call the police or the official breakdown service.

If no orange emergency telephone is available, you call the emergency services – 112.

Here are few emergency phone numbers:

  • 112 – European Emergency Number (police, fire, rescue, ambulance)
  • 18 – Fire including road accidents, gas leaks, etc
  • 17 – Police including reporting a crime, violence, burglary, etc
  • 15 – Ambulance SAMU (Service d’Aide Medicale Urgente), including extreme burns, severe chest pain, coma, urgent medical emergencies, etc
  • 119 – Child protection
  • 197 – Terrorism events including kidnapping

 

Penalties in France

On-the-spot fines may be collected up to 750e by some French police authorities.

The standard fines are classified into four different categories. Penalties can include fines up to 1500e, the confiscation of the driving license as well as the vehicle.

When driving over the limit of alcohol, you’ll lose your license, your car will be taken from you, and you’ll get 6 points and a fine of 135e.

Having no Crit’Air sticker on your windscreen will cost you 130e.

Having no breathalyzer / alcohol test will cost you 11e.

Wearing headphones / earphones / headsets while driving a car will cost you 90e.

If you hold the EU driving license and exceed the speed limit by more than 40km/h, you will have your driving license confiscated by the police or gendarme. Same penalty will be applied when you drive a vehicle having no driving license or having a driving license for other category, having no car insurance, offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or refusal to stop when requested.

When parking your vehicle contrary to the regulations, it may be towed away and impounded and you need to pay the cost for every 24hours the vehicle is kept.

 

 

  • Travelling in Saint Emilion

The town itself is tiny; I highly recommend you walk around and enjoy the beautiful architecture of the town without using the car.

Try to avoid driving the car within Saint Emilion, as the streets are very narrow and steep and it may be very difficult to find a place to park your car within the town.

However, make sure where exactly your holiday apartment is located, as ‘Saint Emilion’ in the address doesn’t necessarily mean the centre of the town of Saint Emilion. Keep in mind that Saint Emilion stretches beyond the medieval town, and to get to some places you may need the car.

Moreover, if you plan to visit Saint Emilion chateaux or eat lunch in one of Saint Emilion restaurants, make sure you check out how far it is located from the centre of the town of Saint Emilion. Some Saint Emilion chateaux or restaurants are located about 10 minutes by car from the centre of the medieval town and it may be too far for you to walk there.

 

Narrow roads in Saint Emilion

As I mentioned before, within the medieval town of Saint Emilion the roads are steep and narrow. If you don’t have to, you better avoid driving on those streets. It’s better to drive around the medieval town and leave your car in more comfortable and safer parkings.

Many small streets among the vineyards are not as wide as the main ones, and in most places you will notice the ditch on both sides of the road. Be careful when passing the big buses with tourists or tractors during the harvest, as your car may end up in the ditch if you go too far towards the right side of the road.

 

 

Speed limits in Saint Emilion

Most of the roads in the surrounding areas have the speed allowance about 70-80km/h.

However, when entering the edge of the town of Saint Emilion, the speed decreases to 50km/h with 30km/h in some places.

Please notice, that when passing by the roundabout in Saint Emilion towards Libourne and Pomerol, the speed limit is still 50km/h! It changes to 70km/h after the petrol station that you’ll see on your right.

Within the medieval town the speed limit is 20 and 30 km/h. You need to give the way to pedestrians.

 

 

  • Parking in Saint Emilion and surroundings

Parking the car in Saint Emilion

In Saint Emilion there is a limited number of parking spaces.

However, you will find a few paid parking lots (‘payant’ in French, written in white on the road). One of them is located in the lower part of the village in Place Bouqueyre (towards the train station).

There are a few more parking lots in the upper town. One is located in Place Raymond Poincarre (at the back of l’Eglise Collegiate and along the road in front of Chateau Clos Fourtet) and another one you will find in Place Pierre Meyrat (near Tourist Office and Maison du Vin de Saint Emilion). The rates are about 2e per hour, and you are allowed to leave your car for maximum of 5 hours.

The free parking lot is located behind the Gendarmerie – police station, not far away from the primary school (at the back of Parc Guadet, near roundabout).

 

Parking big vehicles in Saint Emilion

If you’re driving a bus or a coach, there are two parking areas to choose from.

The first one is located in the Espace Villemaurine in the upper town. The cost of leaving the coach for maximum 9 hours is 15e.

The second parking lot for coaches is in front of the train station, about 1.5 km from the village, in the lower part of Saint Emilion. This one is free of charge.

 

Other practical information regarding parking vehicles in France

Stopping and parking are permitted on the right-hand side, yet only of roads which have two lanes of traffic.

In the surrounding villages you will notice many ‘blue parking’ spaces. You are allowed to park your car in there for maximum of 1.5 hours, and you need to have a special paper timer (disque de controle de stationnement), where you set up the hour of our arrival. You may buy it in each bigger supermarket (it costs about 1.5e).

‘Yellow parking’ spaces usually indicate private parking spaces and you are not allowed to leave your car there. The continuous yellow line indicated that parking and stopping are permitted. A broken yellow line – parking is prohibited.

‘White parking’ area in the surrounding villages is usually a free parking area, and you may leave your car for an unlimited amount of time.

However – and this is a very important information – if there’s an information about paid parking (you’ll often see ‘payant’ written on the road in the parking lot) you need to pay for the parking in the nearby parking machine or parking-meter. Most of the ‘white parking areas’ are the paid ones.

In most of the paid parking lots you do not pay for the lunch break. It means that between 12:00 and 14:00 you park your car for free. Therefore, for example, if you pay for 4 hours starting from 11:00, you will have your parking ticket valid till 17:00 (2 free hours 12:00-14:00, and 4 paid hours 11:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00).

In some places, such as parking in the centre of Libourne, you may put in your car number plates when paying for the parking and the first 30 minutes you’ll have for free.

Moreover, when leaving your car in the villages or towns (such as Castillon la Bataille, Libourne, etc) put attention on the information about the local markets (in French Marche d’ete and ‘Marche d’hiver’). In this area the local markets are very popular and the streets are blocked for the market day. You are not allowed to leave your vehicle neither in the parking nor along the streets. If you do it by chance, you will have to wait until the end of the market to take your car (usually about 12:00 – 12:30) and you may get a fine for leaving your car in there.

 

  • Driving and drinking

To be honest with you, My Dear Reader and Saint Emilion Visitor, I was wondering whether I should write about drinking & driving or not…

It supposed to be obvious for every single thinking human being not to drive after drinking alcohol. But unfortunately it isn’t obvious and too many people drive the car after a few glasses of wine, let me remind you:

Driving a car after drinking alcohol over the limit is forbidden and when breaking that law you commit a crime.

You may lose your driving license, get a big fine to pay and even end up in prison. Not saying about the psychological consequences of causing death or long-term health problems for yourself, your beloved ones or other victims of an accident.

If you drink, drink with moderation. Be responsible and do not drive the car after drinking alcohol over the limits.

A glass of wine is not worth taking away any life!!!

Moreover, remember that you must have a breathalyzer in your car, so when unsure, use it to see whether you are under or over the limits.

Read more here

 

Social responsibility – alcohol in moderation

BAC

In France the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit for experienced drivers (more than 3 years’ experience) is 0.5 mg/ml. For bus drivers the limit is 0.025. For people that have less than three years of experience, the alcohol limit is 0.2mg/ml.

 

Purchase and consumption of alcohol

In France, the drinking age (on premise) is 16.

For spirits the drinking age (on premise) is 18.

The purchasing age (off premise) is 16.

For spirits, the purchasing age (off premise) is 18.

 

Recommended guidelines

A standard drink (unit) in France is 10g.

The recommended guidelines for adult ‘low risk’ consumption (maximum levels in grams of alcohol) for men are 3 units per day (max 30g).

The recommended guidelines for adult ‘low risk’ consumption (maximum levels in grams of alcohol) for women are 2 units per day (max 20g).

Read more here

 

  • Lunch break – a divine time

The lunch break is a divine time. And although during the first year after I arrived here I didn’t see the point of a two-hours-break at work to eat and relax, now I cannot imagine my day without this break ;)

Lunch break starts at 12:00 (or 12:30) and finishes at 14:00 (or 14:30). In most restaurants the lunch is served from 12:00 to about 13:00 (sometimes till 13:30) and if you come later you may not be seated and served!

Make sure you book your lunch in advance, especially when visiting Saint Emilion in the high-season (July-August). You may be surprised how fast the Saint-Emilion restaurants get full during lunch time and how difficult it may be to find a place to eat.

The lunch break is for everyone. It means that the shops and institutions are closed during the break. Often, the doors are closed about 10-15 minutes earlier, not allowing anyone else to enter the shop. Therefore if you need to buy something in the local shop or go to the post office, make sure you are not going there in the last minute.

Moreover, do not be surprise when you will be asked to leave the shop without the possibility of paying for the products you wanted to buy. As I wrote above – the lunch break is a divine time. It is more important than your need to buy souvenirs. You will be very welcome to come and finish your shopping at 14:00 / 14:30 ;)

Many chateaux do not welcome visitors between 12:00-14:30, and many tourism attractions are closed as well. Even Office de Tourisme in Saint Emilion is closed  during the lunch break here (12:30-14:00).

 

  • Restaurants, chateaux visits and tastings

Restaurants

Most restaurants offer fixed Menu du jour during the lunch time. In the price usually there are included: the starter, the main course and dessert or plate of cheese. The price for the Menu du Jour during lunch time in Saint Emilion usually starts at 25-35e, not including drinks.

The prices of wines vary a lot, and you may get a glass of wine from 4.5e to 25e or more, and a bottle from 25e to even a few hundred euros. It all depends on the restaurant and, of course, the wine you choose.

In most restaurants it is allowed to smoke in the outside garden area. Inside the restaurant smoking is prohibited. Therefore do not be surprise when in the summer you will choose to eat the lunch in the garden of a restaurant and people around you will be smoking.

The tap water is free in the restaurants. If you wish to drink bottled still or sparkling water, you need to ask the waitress for it; its price will be added to your bill. If you will ask for water, most likely you will get the carafe with a tap water.

There is no rule about leaving tips in restaurants in France, yet it is always nice to tip a person if you think she or he delivered you an extraordinary service.

 

Chateau Visits

Many chateaux visits must be booked in advance. Make sure you know what’s included in the program of the visit.

Most likely you will have to pay for the visit and tasting, depending on the chateaux the price may vary from10e to 40e. For bigger private groups the extra charges may apply. Some of the chateaux welcome only wine professionals.

Châteaux are mostly closed on the many bank holidays and Sundays, so it’s best to check.

 

Wine tastings

Most of the chateaux offer a tasting after the visit. In most cases you will taste from one to three wines, most likely recent vintages. When choosing a more expensive option (available for some chateaux) or a private visit for group professionals, you may get older vintages to taste. With your tasting in the chateau, you should be offered as well tap water and fresh bread. Spittoons are often available during the tasting.

Many restaurants offer wines by the glass, which is a good option for those who would like to taste a bigger range of the local wines.

Pregnant women may not be served during the tasting, as well as people who are already under the influence of alcohol. Remember that children and pets are not allowed in most of the wineries, especially during the tasting.

 

  • Children and pets

To taste wine in any chateau, restaurant or a wine bar you need to be at the age of minimum 18, even if accompanied by adults.

In most chateaux children and pets are not allowed for the visits and tastings.

If you are interested in a wine tasting when having babies or pets with you, check out my ‘in-villa’ tastings – read more here.

 

 

 

  • Toilets in Saint Emilion

There are a few public toilets available in Saint Emilion. You will find a free toilet in the Espace Villemaurine in the upper part of the town. Another free one is in the middle of the town, in Les Cordeliers (inside the shop).

The paid ones are in the Gendarmerie parking (upper town, near school) and behind the collegiate church. Another two are located in the lower part of the town, near the old wash houses and in Place Bouqueyre.

In the restaurants you are allowed to use the toilets only if you’re a guest of that particular restaurant.

 

 

I hope those tips you need to know when planning your visit to Saint Emilion will help you to avoid the unpleasant surprised so that you enjoy Saint Emilion in a safer and more pleasant way.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to drop me a line. If you think it would be better to add something to this ultimate Saint Emilion guide for visitors, please let me know.

Moreover, in case you are interested in visiting Saint Emilion with me, please feel welcome to read more about my Saint Emilion excursions (click here). If you look for exclusive tasting workshops, feel free to learn more  (click here)

 

 

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