If you ever find yourself in the Southwest of France, don’t miss the opportunity to explore Saint Emilion – a village known mostly for Châteaux Margaux, Cheval Blanc, Ausone, and Angelus. The views are splendid and the wine is spectacular, but the absolute must-sees of St. Emilion are the underground monuments: the hermitage of St. Emilion (including a legendary “fertility chair” which my brother and sister-in-law thought I should go sit in), a portion of over 200 km of catacombs, a chapel dating back to the 8th century, and the monolithic church from the 11th century.
Photos of these sites are forbidden once you pass through the main doors, which is both a pity and a blessing. Taking photos would certainly have taken away from the magical and solemn qualities of these places. The monolithic church alone was worth the 7,50€ price of admission. The structure is carved entirely out of a single piece of stone, with two rows of massive pillars lining where the people would be sitting during mass. There are large braces around several of the pillars to protect them against the pressure of water infiltrations (from underground springs and rivers) and the weight of a 4500-ton bell tower. It is impossible to convey how grand this church is – you will simply have to go and see it yourself.
Anyway – I promise a more detailed post of my trip with more photos, but for now, à tout à l’heure!