According to legend, St Emilion was founded by a monk from Brittany who sought refuge in a cave in a place called Ascum Bas (an early name for the village) in the 8C. After making a miracle, he fled his notoriety. His name was Emilion.
He lived as a hermit, dedicating the rest of his life to worship and performing miracles which earned him a following. The village was named St Emilion after his death.
The Benedictine monks who succeeded Emilion, under the influence of a local lord, dug an underground church: the monolithic church. A must-see when visiting the town.
Saint Emilion, home to the Jurade
Saint Emilion is also home to the Jurade - a wine brotherhood created by the English King John in 1199 when local noblemen were given political, economic and legal power enabling them to control the region. The Jurade is now in charge of promoting the region’s wines worldwide; they organise the annual Spring Feast and Ban des Vendanges which heralds the start of the wine harvest.
There is much to see in the region. There is Saint Emilion, of course, and the bastide towns of Libourne and St Foy la Grande on banks of the Dordogne.
There are also the numerous historic villages, roman churches and the Abbey at Guîtres.
From the very old to the very new, don’t forget to include a look at the regions the resoundingly modern wine cellars, designed by some of the world’s greatest architects such as Portzamparc for Cheval Blanc or Jean Nouvel at La Dominique.