In planning what we knew we be our last few trips, one of the hubs’ main requests was to go somewhere to buy really good wine. Easy. Saint Emilion is the capital of wine country, and coincidentally, exceptionally charming. We arrived late Thursday evening, and after a good night of sleep, woke up to this spectacular view at Le Relais de Franc Mayne. I just wanted to let down my hair like Rapunzel! But, my prince charming quickly woke me from my fairy tale to head down the road to the boulangerie for breakfast.
Driving through town was like being transported back centuries; in fact it goes back to prehistoric times and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Romans even planted vineyards here in the 2nd century- talk about aged wine!A tasting and lunch in the vineyards set the bar high at the start of our trip; Château de Candale’s beautiful setting was heavenly. The wines were delicious and quite reasonably priced, but lunch stole the show. The grounds and delicious dishes really rivaled each other in this beauty contest.
Back at our Chateau, we did a proper walk around to see everything in the daylight. It was such a magical place to stay. The natural swimming pool was idyllic and the decor was impeccable. Next on our mangled agenda was our bike rental pick up. With a 20 minute walk to town, bikes were the quickest (and cutest) way to get around. The path through the vineyards to town seemed too good to be true. Do people really live here!? Anxious to soak up a bit of sun by the pool, we cycled back for a few hours of bliss. With sunkissed skin, the hubs’ and I headed to a tasting in town before dinner. We found the wine shops in the town center to be alluring with their dazzling displays of wonderful wines, but ultimately, bought a few cases from a wholesaler on the edge of town.
Excited for what we expected to be a fabulous French dinner, we snagged a table outside at what I thought was the restaurant I’d so carefully chosen. Confusion trying to find our booking should have tipped us off, but alas, the maître d’ accommodated us without trouble. Amazing escargot followed by mediocre entrees left us slightly underwhelmed. The hubs was surprised because he usually praises my restaurant choices.
While walking around the town, I confusingly spotted L’Huitier Pie, where we were meant to have had dinner. To this day, I cannot understand what convinced me that the restaurant where we ate was the one I’d chosen, the names were not similiar, they were not so close in proximity…it was a moment of temporary insanity. Fortunately, after explaining the mishap to the very sweet owner at L’Huitier Pie, she graciously booked us in for the following night. Saturday morning was glorious and started off similarly to the previous one, with fabulous French pastries. A tour of our chateau’s wine making facility and underground ENORMOUS quarry was fascinating. Learning about the limestone mining, we walked through the quarries with the vineyards just overhead. At one spot, our guide even pointed to where some older vines had grown all the way through the limestone! By mid-afternoon, it was time to get serious about stocking up on wine. We made fast friends with Didier at his wholesale wine shop and spent a couple of hours tasting and choosing. Our new wine dealer pointed us to L’Envers du Decor for lunch, where we had outstanding salmon over a waffle with cream cheese (maybe?) – a true bistro experience. Sampling the macaroons and purchasing a wine-label clad table runner rounded out the afternoon before another few hours of sipping wine poolside. Certain of the night’s dinner spot, we cycled back to town for an amazing one. Dinner at L’Huitier Pie was perfect, every course was flawless and beyond delicious. Had we eaten here the first night, we would have probably eaten here again!
Walking home was so romantic and felt like a fairy tale. Saint Emilion will always be a such a special place to us!
Our late flight Sunday left us with most of the day to frolic around. Driving to the coast sounded too good to pass up, so we headed to the Dune du Pilat, Europe’s tallest sand dune.