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Europe » France » Aquitaine » Saint-Emilion
May 8th 2012
Published: May 9th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Since we had no appointments at any particular chateau in St. Emilion we decided to take advantage of the bank holiday (end of WWII) and sleep in before we head out. This gave us a chance to catch up on some sleep. They way we travel, is pretty much go go go from 7 am until 11 pm so the occasional sleep until 9 or 9:30 is very nice. We did miss breakfast, but the beef from last night was still pretty much sitting there for me so I didn’t mind.

Once a wake and showered we were off to the UNESCO world heritage site of St. Emilion. The entire village has been classified as an historic site. Once you see you it will know why and I am sorry but the pictures really don’t do it justice. The village is the center of the St. Emilion sub-appellation of Bordeaux. The wines here are blended with 60% or more merlot, then Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Frank and maybe petit verdot. This results in a smooth more fruity style. So if you’re a merlot fan, you will prefer the wines from St. Emilion, if you are a Cabernet Sauvignon fan you will prefer the wines from the Medoc.

St. Emilion is about 35 minutes west of Bordeaux it was a very easy drive and we managed to find our way out of Bordeaux and on the right road in one try. Well managed isn’t really a good word, I made one lucky turn and Jerry guided us the rest of the way. The first part of the drive is not much, just suburbs of Bordeaux, but in about 15 minutes you are in the country the roads are narrow and the vineyards and chateau appear. Jerry’s observation was even if you had one of these great chateaux, you would be surrounded by slums. What he means is that often right next to this large chateau the housing may be less than desirable or you’re by a gas station etc. Its not until you get much further out that they are more picturesque.

As you approach St. Emilion you can see it for several miles away. It sits up on a hill the church steeple is very prominent. To get to the city center you must negotiate narrow winding cobble stone roads, large vehicles are not allowed and often you end up parking out of town and walking in. We as usual were lucky and found parking at the east exit of the city thus making our walk in very short. There were two chateaux we were planning on visiting today, but it was now 1:30 and we opted for lunch. We ate at a small bistro called La Cote Braisee. It was along side a very narrow and steep cobblestone road that went further down into the heart of the city. It was entertaining to watch the woman in their spiked heals (albeit short spikes not 3 inch spikes) try to negotiate the steep cobblestone path. Lunch was leisurely and good. It was a humid day, it felt as if a thunderstorm would break out at any time, but it did not.

After lunch we strolled through the village but first stopped to have a St. Emilion macaroon, which is very different than what you fine in Paris. This was more like an almond cookie, but very moist and good. Nuns invented them back in the day, what else did nuns have to do. We also had a Canneles, which is a small cake unique to Bordeaux. They started being made to use the egg yolks left over from the wine making process. In the early days the wine was filtered by using egg whites, set up top the barrel let to sink down. As it sank down it collected the debris. But only the whites were used, so as to not waste the yolk the invented these Caneles, they are very tasty.

We visited two Chateaux for tasting, visiting one of the caves. (See today’s tastes below). After that we headed back to the City of Bordeaux for our last night. Some day I would like to return and stay in St. Emilion, it is a very quaint and quite village. It is a great place to use as a base to visit the many Chateaux in the area.

Upon our return to Bordeaux, we had some wine and relaxed before dinner, I blogged, Jerry smoked.

We were going to walk further into the old part of the city for dinner, but instead to go to a place we noticed last night. It was called Le Noailles. When we got there it was packed, but we still managed to get a table. We were seated

These can only be purchased in the Bordeaux region
along the window and next to a table of 20 older British men. I don’t know why they were all in Bordeaux, but they were having a great time. The magnums of wine were flowing at that table. If you saw the very small kitchen you would not believe that they could put out all the food for the table at the same time, but they did, plus get all the other tables served. On the other side of us was a table of older French women and their daughter and her husband. It looked like at least 4 generations.

The place was hopping, even the owner was working. She cleared tables, ran credit cards, even brought food and poured wine. And the smile never left her face, of course it didn’t she was raking in the Euros that night. The food and the experience were so much better than the night before. It was a good choice for our last night in Bordeaux.

It had started to rain part way through dinner, so after dinner we walked back to the hotel and crashed. Thus ends the big wine part of our trip. We now turn inland a bit to Cognac.



La Cote Braisee: We split foie gras for a starter. Jerry had a seafood cassoulet. It was good, but had too many mussels in it for his taste. I could not taste it because of the mussels. I had Lamproie aux bordelaise. This is a regional specialty. Lamproie is a fresh water fish (which I typically don’t care fore) this was cooked in red wine, potatoes and leeks. It was really good; it is somewhat similar to a fish burguone. The wine was a small bottle of Domaine De Peyrelongue, St. Emilion Grand Cru 2007.


Le Noailles

Jerry: Started with Oeuf & Thon (best way to describe it is deviled eggs, and tuna salad combined, then cheese sprinkled over that). It was very good and traditional as all three of the older women next to us ordered the same thing. Jerry’s plat was Fried Cepes (A type of mushroom that are more popular in France than any other including chanterelles.) That was it fried cepes, it was good but a lot of mushrooms. For dessert he had a raspberry tart.

Chris: I started with Avocados and
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St. Emilion
Crawfish with an excellent crawfish sauce. My plat was veal scallops with pomme frittes and for dessert I had a strawberry tart.

The wine: 2006 Saint Emilion La Grace Dieu.


Clos De Menuts 2006, St. Emilion Grand Cru (we purchased a 2002 and drank it that night.)

Château La Rose Brisson; St. Emilion Grand Cru 2009.


St. Emilion: This is a must see place and if you get the chance spend at least one night there. It is very much like being thrown back to medieval France.

La Cote Braisee: This café in St. Emilion is a great place for lunch, but probably not dinner. They only have 3 outside tables so you have to have some luck, like we did to score one of those. The food is good and reasonably priced. The have a fixed menu, but they had stopped serving that by the time we sat down for lunch.

Le Noailles: The restaurant in Bordeaux, a stones through from our hotel, is a great place if you’re in the area. If you’re not within walking distance of it, I would not make the trip just
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The cat was thirsty, I hope that isn't holy water.
to eat here. It was good, wine list extensive but pretty much out of a normal persons reach. There is no fixed menu so it can add up. Best to split an entrée then each order a plat. If it is crowded expect it to be warm. Food is ok; my veal was a little over cooked and could have been warmer.

Hotel Coeur de Bordeaux Clemenceau: Two star hotel, in the heart of the shopping district, but close to the tourism office. Not much neighborhood experience here, but if you are using the city for as a base to visit the surrounding wine country, it is pretty easy in and out of the city, once you figure out the route. Price was a bit high for what you got, breakfast was included, parking is about 13 Euros a day.


Bordeaux most likely deserves an entire day just to explore the city. We saw none of Bordeaux other than what we saw from our hotel window, the drive in and out, and at dinner each night. We spent three nights and should have spent a 4th, so we could have devoted a day just to the city itself.

Additional photos below
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Me from the window
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