saint emilion, france, wine region, basque country, nouvelle-aquitaine

Saint Emilion Rooftops photo © Nancy D. Brown

Are you visiting Saint-Emilion for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in this UNESCO World Heritage village.

When I have a visitor from out of town, the first place they want to see is the monolithic church that can only be visited with guided tours, but I also take them to visit some underground wine galleries – for a more local, authentic experience.

When I want to escape the tourists, my favorite thing to do is a walking tour along the Dordogne River.

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend climbing the King’s Keep or the bell tower of the monolithic church for kissing with a view over the village and the vineyards.

The best place to walk the dog is in the surrounding vineyards.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit the Cordeliers’ Cloister as you can take a break in the garden, drink some Crémant de Bordeaux or lemonade.


fabrique de macarons, saint emilion, france, basque food, nouvelle aquitaine dessert

Taste the macarons, a specialty of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Basque Food in Saint Emilion:

If you are looking for typical Saint-Emilion cuisine, I recommend the famous macarons of Saint-Emilion. The recipe was invented by some Ursulines nuns in the 15th century. On my visit, the women of Fabrique de Macarons were busy baking and boxing this regional specialty made of almonds, sugar and egg whites.

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Boulangerie Premier. Only a few meters from the center of Saint-Emilion, they have the most delicious French pastries.

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Fresh salmon & cassoulet at Chai Pascal. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Looking for good food that is not too expensive in Saint-Emilion? Go to Chai Pascal or L’Envers du Décor. If salmon is on the menu at Chai Pascal order it – delicious – and the chocolate mousse was incredible. L’Amelia Canta is the spot for late night dining or drinks.

For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to La Table de Plaisance** that has 2 Michelin stars since 2017 or to le Tertre for a more intimate meal.

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Visit Chateau Corbin, Grand Cru Classe family estate. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Seeing a lot of vineyards in Saint-Emilion? This region is best known for its wine. You’ll have to visit at least one wine estate before you leave. We had a tour at the beautiful Château Corbin. Be sure to arrange for a tasting in advance as you’ll need an appointment.

When you come to Saint-Emilion, get your picture taken in front of the UNESCO sign at the bell tower of the monolithic church. Indeed, Saint-Emilion as well as seven other villages and their vineyards were listed as World Heritage since 1999.

In Saint-Emilion outdoor lovers will want to discover the surroundings by bike (over 15 loops created by the Saint-Emilion Tourist Office), with an electric tuk-tuk or in a side-car. I’ve heard there is horseback riding through the vineyards, but we were visiting in the winter and I think this is a summertime option.

saint emilion monolithic church, bell tower, france

Looking for some exercise? Climb 196 steps up the bell tower for non-stop views of the medieval town. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Looking for a little exercise? Walk along the “tertre” of Saint-Emilion, some old and steep streets.

After a day of adventure, Hotel Grand Barrail***** is the best place to go for a spa treatment

Looking for exciting night life? You’ll need to visit Bordeaux for the many pubs and music venues.

The “Sud Ouest” will keep you posted on what’s happening in Saint-Emilion and its surroundings.

saint emilion, vineyards, french wine region, dordogne valley, france

Climb the King’s Keep and look out to Saint Emilion and vineyards throughout the region. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

In the spring you should attend the Open Doors of the appellation of Saint-Emilion. On the last weekend of April, hundreds of wine estates open their doors for you.

In the summer you should attend the Saint-Emilion Jazz Festival on the third weekend of July.

Did you know that Saint-Emilion is known for the “Jurade” celebration? To discover what the Jurade is, plan a visit to our medieval village in the fall on the third weekend of September.

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Lauriane prunes vines at Chateau Corbin. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

If you visit Saint Emilion in the winter, as we did in January, you won’t have to deal with crowds and the chateau owners will take time to wine taste with you if you call ahead and make a reservation. Just outside of Saint-Emilion you can visit hundreds of “Châteaux” and even have lunch in some of them like the restaurant La Terrasse Rouge of Château La Dominique or L’Atelier de Candale, the restaurant of Vignobles Magali et Thibaut  De Coster.

Insider Tip: Check out the often over-looked Brunet Gate in Saint-Emilion. I’ll bet you didn’t know that some sheep are living there right now. For additional insider tips follow Nancy D. Brown on Instagram and Twitter @Nancydbrown and Saint-Emilion Tourisme on Twitter (if you speak French)  or #mysaintemilion on Instagram.

Article, video and photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Nouvelle Aquitaine while writing about things to see and do in Saint Emilion, France, however all opinions are my own. For more information on Saint Emilion click here.