Saint Emilion can be viewed in so many different ways, perhaps as a city where famous vineyards, see one of the  entrances to Chateau Ausone left, are within walking distance of the main town, or as a medieval town, with interesting nooks and crannies, see right, as a centre of religious life though the ages or just somewhere to meander and enjoy. Saint Emilion is a city but has the population and size of a village but with more historic monuments than many a large city can boast.  The appellations (classifications) of wine from Saint Emilion however covers an area of 5,500 hectares. The history of the town can be traced back to pre-historic times and the production of wine here can be traced back to the Romans in the 2nd century. The town has taken its name from the 8th century monk Émilion who settled there and by his miracles and generosity his fame grew and after his death a monastic site was formed bearing his name.   The city was enclosed by walls in the early 13th century and evidence of these walls can be seen, for example see the Porte Brunet on the left. History can give rise to modern day pleasures, for example the Cordeliers were Franciscan monks who were given their name in the seventh crusade, (late 13th century), on account of the cord belts they wore.  They orginally had a monastery just outside the town which was pillaged during the early 14th century as part of the wars between the King of France and Aquitaine.  They asked for permission to build a monastery within the city walls which was given.  During the revolution the order was outlawed and the monastery fell into disrepair.  The Cordeliers is shown on the right.  Now the cloisters of the Cordeliers are open to the public and one can wander and drink the cremant produced there.  Drinking a glass, or two, of cremant you are also partaking in its history, since the production of cremant on this site dates back to the late 19th century. On the left can be seen the bell tower, (clocher), of the Eglise Monolithe.  This is a landmark that can be seen from miles around and to us, when we visited Saint Emilion on holiday it indicated that we were nearly 'home'.  It is in fact the tower for an underground church which can be visited from the square below the tower.  The undergroud church dates from the end of the 11th or the beginning of the 12th century.  The tower dates from the 12th century with changes being made over 300 years.  A visit to the top of the tower is rewarded with spectacular views of the countryside and a feeling of awe for the builders.  An underground visit is also possible. On the right is shown the Tour de Roi or King's tower.  This was built in 1237 by the order of King Henry III of England and Duke of Aquitaine.  Again an exhilarating climb rewarded by a magnificent view. The Tour de Roi is used by the Jurade to make its proclamations,  see left.  The Jurade was formed in 1199 by  King John of England to oversee the quality of wine being shipped to England.  I had always thought that the Jurade was a comparatively modern association, and in fact in its present form it dates from as recently as 1948, having been abolished during the revolution, some time after 1789. A less formal gathering is shown right where small wine- makers are taking their grapes to the Union de producteurs in Saint Emilion, a wine co-operative.
Bordeaux Wine Country - Saint Emilion
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