Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Day Trip from Bordeaux to Saint-Emilion: Wine Tour vs. Self-Guided Tour02/10/2023
Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Visit Saint-Emilion, France
Saint-Emilion is a charming town in the heart of Bordeaux’s Wine Region. It is a mecca for wine lovers due to the massive presence of wine châteaux. Not by chance, Saint-Emilion, France, is the first place in the world to have had a grape variety listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Saint-Emilion is located 48 kilometers east of Bordeaux. Besides producing world-renowned wines, Saint-Emilion features stunning monuments and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Saint-Emilion makes one of the best day trips from Bordeaux. The most popular way to do it is by joining a Saint-Emilion wine tour with tastings, but it is also possible to visit Saint-Emilion by train.
Keep reading to discover how to visit Saint-Emilion with our top tips!
Bordeaux Saint-Emilion is one of the most famous wine areas in France and worldwide. It is located in Bordeaux’s so-called “Right Bank” zone at the northeastern end of the wine region. Saint-Emilion vineyards produce distinguished wines, and it has more than 600 producers.
Bordeaux Saint-Emilion wines are predominantly made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc and range from fragrant and delicate flavors to enveloping and powerful ones. This difference is mainly due to the different soil properties.
The very best Saint-Emilion wines are classified as Premier Grand Cru Classé A, and only four châteaux are at this level: Château Angelus, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Ausone, and Château Pavie.
The other châteaux produce Premier Grand Cru Classé B or Grand Cru Classé wines.
Unlike the Loire Valley Castles or the Medieval Castles in Dordogne, the Châteaux in Saint-Emilion were not the homes to kings or nobles. The Châteaux in Saint Emilion are big private mansions built from the 18th century onwards, and they have the particularity to have in-sight vineyards and host the whole process of Bordeaux wine production, from grape harvesting to wine bottling.
The “château” concept in Bordeaux is related to wine production, not the building’s history or architecture. In other words, if they don’t do the entire wine production process on-site, these buildings cannot be called “châteaux.”
St Emilion Wine Tours from Bordeaux
The perfect way to visit Saint-Emilion is by joining a Saint-Emilion wine tour combining sightseeing and wine tasting.
The best perk of doing a Saint-Emilion wine tour from Bordeaux is that it often includes pick-up from central Bordeaux, and you will spend the drive in the comfort of a minivan, so you can taste as many wines as you want.
Saint-Emilion wine tours usually include visiting at least one of the best Châteaux in St Emilion with an expert sommelier who will teach you all about the grapes grown in the estate and how the wine production works before accompanying you to the tasting.
In general, St Emilion wine tours will focus on wine rather than sightseeing, so you will have limited time to explore Saint-Emilion town. For instance, these tours rarely include visiting the fantastic Saint-Emilion underground heritage.
The typical things to do in Saint Emilion during a Bordeaux to Saint-Emilion wine tour are a stroll around the Medieval Town and a visit to the Cordeliers Cloister. Don’t miss the panoramic views over the Saint-Emilion Vineyards from the King’s Tower and from the viewpoint just in front of the Collegiate Church.
Best Saint Emilion Tours with Transportation from Bordeaux
Bordeaux to St Emilion by Train (Self-Guided)
A Bordeaux day trip to Saint-Emilion with public transportation is easy to organize. You can easily get to St Emilion from Bordeaux by train.
The Bordeaux to Saint Emilion train will depart from Bordeaux’s Gare St. Jean station and will arrive at Gare Saint-Emilion train station in around 30 minutes. This train connection is frequent, with 15 trains departing from Bordeaux daily – Click here to buy your train tickets
Bordeaux’s St. Jean train station isn’t located right in the city center. To get there, you can either walk for half an hour, get the bus (number 1) or the tram (letter C or D).
A day trip from Bordeaux to St Emilion by train gives you the chance to visit the unmissable Saint-Emilion Monolithic Church – the largest monolithic church in Europe – which you must book well in advance. With more time on-site, you can also have lunch in one of the 18 Michelin-starred restaurants in Saint-Emilion. For the best things to eat, check out our Bordeaux food guide.
The main con of choosing a day trip to Saint-Emilion by train is that it is difficult to visit the wineries since you won’t have private transportation. What you can do instead is buy some bottles in one of the many wine shops in town.
Bordeaux to Saint-Emilion Tour by Car
Saint-Emilion is located 48 kilometers from Bordeaux, and you can travel between them in 1 hour.
In Saint-Emilion, there are several free and paid parking spaces. Check out this Saint-Emilion Parking page to find all the information you need for parking the car in Saint-Emilion.
Getting to Saint-Emilion by car allows you to discover its lovely center at your own pace, including the Saint-Emilion Monolithic Church, which can only be accessed by a guided tour reserved in advance.
When you are done exploring Saint-Emilion, it’s time to take the car again and drive to some of the best wineries in Saint-Emilion:
- Château Jean Faure (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé)
- Château Fombrauge (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé)
- Château de Pressac (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé)
- Couvent des Jacobins (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé)
- Château Franc Mayne (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé)
On this page, you will find a complete list of the Châteaux in Saint-Emilion open for visits (in French and English) and Saint-Emilion wine tasting. Please keep in mind that it is necessary to book your spot in advance.
For a unique wine-centered day out of Bordeaux, combine the visit of the Châteaux of Saint-Emilion with the Châteaux of Médoc.
You can also visit Saint-Emilion as part of a French road trip. If you need ideas for your road trip itinerary, check out this road trip from Bordeaux to Biarritz, which includes a stop at Saint-Emilion.
If you don’t have a car, you can rent one in Bordeaux – check out our best tips for renting a car in France.
And there you have it, all the ways to plan a Bordeaux to Saint-Emilion wine tour with our best tips for a unique day in this lovely wine town.