One day not long ago, I spontaneously added an item to my bucket list: to visit Saint-Émilion at least once in every month. I’m not sure why I decided to do that, but I thought it could be a challenge to make life more interesting for my remaining year (at least) in Europe. Also, I want to see how a town changes from month to month, from season to season, and what better place to go than charming little Saint-Émilion?
So far I’ve done April, May, June, July and now, November. If I plan out my mobility well, the rest of the months are well doable 😉 To add to the challenge, I have different company every time. So far only one person has gone with me twice, and that would be MM. In April 2011 I went for the first time with Chahat, a university friend studying in the UK at that time. In May 2012 it was with my Canadian crew Sharon and Cindy. In June 2011 the trip was spent with the Yihua family, MM, and Wan Zhe. In July 2011 there was Helene, Mengran, Xinning, SB, and MM again.
Before November was over, I decided to make my fifth trip to Saint-Émilion with a colleague. It was also the first time I brought Mr.Nikon with me, hurray! We caught the last weekend before it got too cold, and really, it might have been my favourite visit so far, thanks to so many things.
What makes Saint-Émilion such a charming and irresistible place that I go back again and again? You’ll see. (Click for full album.)
Mr.Colleague wondered whether there were still grapes on the vines in November. Well, who knew? Unless we found out, of course 😉 I remember in June last year, there were green grapes on the vines, but in November, even if there were any left, they couldn’t possibly be green or even purple anymore, right? Alas, we saw some dark blue grapes still stubbornly hanging onto their branches, though these were few. I kinda wanted to swipe a bunch, because they looked oh-so-sweet-and-delicious 😀
I loved the colour of the sky that day. There was not a wisp of grey and the sun kept me warm, although it got windy at times. On the way from the train station to the town of Saint-Émilion, we passed by many vineyards and “entered” one, as there was no barrier of any sort. I wonder if that counts as trespassing…?
Saint-Émilion is a historic town filled with old houses and fascinating ruins in every corner. There are countless narrow alleys and streets and you can never take the same turn twice (though by now I know some well-hidden nooks and crannies barely noticeable to the eye, so I could point my friend in that direction, like a true tour guide 😀 ). Actually, wouldn’t it be fun to play hide-and-seek here?
As we were climbing up the hills to reach the Tour du Roi (Tower of the King), I noticed these little guys hanging around the corner. I have no idea what these tiny flowers are called, but they dangled delicately from their branches like fragile bulbs of decoration. Very pretty, no? 😉
I thought this little French girl was super adorable as she ran ahead of the group she was with, presumably a tour group, walking slowly up the hill behind the girl. She was so energetic, as if racing with the goal of being the first to get to the top of the hill. You go, little girl! 😉
Ah, one of my two favourite photos of the trip! Mr.Colleague and I made it to the top of the hill, though at that point we didn’t go to the top of the Tour du Roi. This is one of the two classic postcard photos of Saint-Émilion, the other being the view from the entrance of the monolithic church. What I loved about this view is not only the array of roofs leading to the monolithic church in the distance, but also the clouds that complement the sky and the striking colours of the vineyard in the foreground – orange and yellow vines in a field of green. What a mesmerizing place!
I like to stop by the courtyard inside the old church in the centre of the town because it radiates such a mysterious yet magnificent aura. The pillars of stone still stood tall and dignified, not showing any signs of decaying with age.
And of course, the courtyard was a nice place to rest and have lunch, which was exactly what Mr.Colleague and I did after having wandered around for an hour or two. Nope, that’s not us in the photo, but we did sit around and chat casually as we had our light lunch consisting of biscuits, croissants, and chocolatines. What an enjoyable afternoon it was 😉
As we continued our adventure to the unknown parts of Saint-Émilion, we passed by the entrance to the Cloître (convent) des Cordeliers. The gate seemed to be locked, so we didn’t get to go in and visit – not that we knew what the place was – but I did catch these two birds chilling ever so leisurely on top of the walls of the enclosure. If only we had wings, no gate would have been able to bar us from what was inside 😛
What’s a trip to Saint-Émilion without at least a visit to a wine cave or two? There used to be a few places around the town that offered free wine-tasting, but since my visit in May 2012, they have started to charge money. Oh well 😦 At least the tour around the caves themselves were free. One of the caves happened to be a locations where a Chinese movie, Eternal Moment, was filmed (at least the old man there claimed so). Starring Xu Jinglei and Li Yapeng, the movie was a topic of popular discussion among the Chinese community in Bordeaux, as it involved scenes filmed in Saint-Émilion, Arcachon, and Bordeaux itself. I wouldn’t say the movie was all that great in terms of storyline, but hey, for the sake of the sceneries, it was worth seeing 😛 (By the way, do the French people actually buy wine in such huge bottles? How do they even serve it?)
We left Saint-Émilion with a nice sunset greeting our way back to the train station. Château La Gaffelière is all too familiar to me. You simply don’t miss it as it is right along the way to and from the station.
Second favourite photo of the trip? This one. There was something about this empty stretch of land and the shade of the sky that drew my attention, so cold and barren. It almost felt haunted…
..and that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes my account of the trip to Saint-Émilion in November 2012. I will be going again in mid-December with my friend Ara who is visiting me from Paris, and if my dad comes for my thesis defense in 2013, that takes care of the trip in October. I am also awaiting the arrival of snow this winter…I would LOVE to see Saint-Émilion in the snow! I have yet to do a solo trip, so maybe that will be something to keep in mind, but hey, I am sure I wouldn’t run out of people who would join me on a trip to a town as lovely as Saint-Émilion. The challenge goes on, and we’ll see how it unfolds. Cheers! 😀