The village of St Emilion is very old and has a very interesting Monolithic church that is carved entirely from one huge cliff of limestone that originally started with a natural cave. The church is dedicated to St Emilion and he was said to have lived the last 17 years of his life in the catacombs that are beneath the entire town. There is no wood inside – only huge pillars, side chapels, vaulted ceilings and altars carved from the limestone. The church was started in the 17th century and took over 50 years to complete. Pilgrims from all over came to see the religious relics that were here and get there sins absolved. The village itself is built on two levels with steep, narrow streets connecting the two levels.
There can be no more building in the original village because the catacombs that are everywhere beneath the upper level of the village might collapse. The catacombs were used for burials – there are tombs everywhere!! Also at one time, there was a quarry that excavated a lot of the rock to build other villages.
Although cool this morning and cloudy, the sun came out later for another great day. We traveled to the small village of St Emilion which is in the wine district of the same name. This district only produces red wine. They use mostly Merlot grapes blended with one or two other types. This district is home to some of the more expensive red wines. The winery we visited (Chateau de Ferrand) had a bottle selling for 37,000 euros!! At some of the other ones, our guide said the price could be up to 50,000 Euros for a bottle. At some of the smaller wineries, they do not sell to shops but people come to the winery and meet with a somelier to taste and try wines. There was a couple there when we had our tasting and they were setting at a table looking over everything. It actually looked like when couples shop for diamonds!! Chateau de Ferrand was built in the 18th Century and was in the same family until 1978 when Baron Bich (the head of Bic pens) bought it. The grapes are all pruned (only two branches are allowed to grow) and picked by hand.
We returned to the boat for lunch and then took a shuttle back to the village to do some shopping. After returning from the short shopping trip, everyone found the perfect chair on the sundeck and promptly took a nap!! A perfect day.