Just over two years ago Beth, my mom, my sister, and I were in the process of planning our trip to France to visit my Aunt Kathy. Aunt Kathy had moved to the wine region of Saint-Émilion just outside of Bordeaux over 10 years ago. We were all excited to see her. Sadly just a couple of months before our trip Aunt Kathy tragically passed away very unexpectedly in March 2018.
This was very devastating as we were all extremely excited to see her and my mom lost her beloved sister. Aunt Kathy lived life to the beat of her own drum and was one of the most caring and loving people around. When she first moved to Europe our family would play where in the world is Aunt Kathy as she hadn’t quite picked a spot. She would send my mom and our extended family random emails or just pictures from wherever she was. One of the emails I remember, talked about how great the weather was and about flocks of flamingos. Our whole family would try to guess where she was in Europe. Eventually her travels through Europe landed her in Saint-Émilion permanently where she purchased an old vineyard with her husband. Once she settled in at her vineyard, Chateau Plaisance, many family members visited her throughout the years.
As for our journey we decided to keep our travels to France for that summer to honor Aunt Kathy. Her husband was more than welcoming and encouraged us to continue our trip. We spent the first couple of days in Paris before taking a high speed train to Libourne where Aunt Kathy’s husband picked us up. It was truly wonderful experience getting the local European culture, learning about how the chateau functions, and reminiscing about Aunt Kathy. We were able to visit many of Aunt Kathy’s favorite spots which were very emotional but great experiences.
Our hosts were truly incredible at Chateau Plaisance. They cooked us great meals every night and served us plenty of wine. The Chateau itself was built 1886. When my aunt bought it the structure and the vines were in shambles. Her and husband restored both and now have one of the largest operations in the region. We enjoyed a tour of their wine production and were even able to work in the vines.
While in the vines we helped to put the vines back in between the wires and tried to fix any overlapping ones. There is a french technical term for this but it escapes me. My mom really enjoyed working in the vines to connect with Aunt Kathy.
Saint-Émilion the Town
Saint-Émilion is named after a monk that settled in the region in the 8th century. The town began to grow after that because of the wonderful wine that can be made in the area. Most of the buildings are centuries old and makes for a great time wandering the narrow streets. There were plenty of great little restaurants and wineries scattered throughout. One of the highlights of the town is to visit the old Monolithic Church which also includes a crypt! No pictures are allowed there but it is a must visit and is a great reprieve from the hot temperatures in the summer.
Another highly recommended activity is to take a chateau tour of the countryside. There are many options but the simplest is the one right in town near the main church on the top of the hill. The tour takes you near many of the famous chateaus for some great pictures. There wasn’t any wine on this tour but plenty of views.
One of my favorite pictures of Saint-Émilion, France from a distance!
We had a great time in France and the trip allowed my family to have some closure with my Aunt’s sudden passing. Saint-Émilion will always be a special place for our family and despite the circumstances we had a really great time exploring the area and enjoying the company of my Aunt’s friends and family.