This travel guide on how to take a Saint Emilion day trip was originally written in Nov 2014 and last updated July 2018.
The medieval village and Unesco World Heritage Site of Saint Emilion, France, is a perfect full day trip from Bordeaux. As soon as you arrive from Bordeaux to St Emilion, you will gaze upon a stunning site. It’s the compact town of Saint Emilion, towering up from a sea of surrounding vineyards.
It’s beyond those beautiful grape vines where you’ll eventually find yourself in the midst of narrow, and sometimes steep, streets and alleyways. It’s here where you can amble for hours past the quaint shops, magnificent churches, and historic monuments of Saint Emilion. It is a magical experience.
But awesome travel experiences like this in France can often get pricey. However, this day trip from Bordeaux to St Emilion doesn’t have to be. You can find plenty of things to do in Saint Emilion on a budget, whether you take an budget-friendly day tour or set out on your own DIY (do-it-yourself) day trip from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion.
Bordeaux to Saint Emilion: On Your Own or a Day Tour?
When deciding whether to go from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion on your own or as part of a day tour, there are three main things to consider:
- Your physical ability: If taking the DIY recommendation, you’ll need to be comfortable walking at least 3-5 kilometers. The town of Saint Emilion itself is more than a kilometer walk from the train station.
- Your travel style: What’s more important to you: the flexibility to go your own way or the ease, simplicity, and added information that comes with a tour?
- Your budget: A tour will usually cost more than a DIY trip to Saint Emilion, aside from two days per week
- Day of the week: If you can go on Wednesday or Sundays, the €42 half-day trip will be less expensive than DIY
Price of Bordeaux to St Emilion Day Tours Compared to DIY Trip to Saint Emilion
There are three ways to take a day trip from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion with three very different prices:
- Half-Day Group Tour (Wednesday or Sunday only): €42
- Do It Yourself Day Trip to St Emilion by Train: €45
- Small-Group Tour to St Emilion: €65-€150
Sample Budget & Costs of a DIY Day Trip from Bordeaux to St Emilion
You can travel from Bordeaux to St Emilion on your own, on a budget of less than €50 per person. If going from Bordeaux to St Emilion on your own, you should be able to include similar experiences of the many packaged tours.
Here are some sample expenses you can expect to incur if following our recommendation for a DIY Day Trip to St Emilion:
- Roundtrip Bordeaux to Saint Emilion Train Tickets: €19 (It’s €9.50 each way)
- Winery Tour & Tastings: €7.50
- Underground Tour: €9.00
- Lunch: €10
- Additional wine tasting: free
- Self-guided tour of the town: free
- Total: €45.50 per person
So if you’re comfortable with independent travel and don’t mind a good walk, you can realistically make a nice day trip from Bordeaux to St Emilion by train, plus a bit of walking. We’ll show you exactly how to do so later in this article. First, lets take a quick look at the tours available, including that remarkably inexpensive that goes out on Wednesdays and Sundays.
The Most Inexpensive Day Tour from Bordeaux to St Emilion
Taking DIY excursions is almost always a more economical option than a group tour. And to get from Bordeaux to St Emilion, that mostly holds true when comparing tours to the DIY costs we’ve listed above. Yet we found one tour from Bordeaux to St Emilion that will cost roughly the same. It’s only €42!
If you’re in Bordeaux on a Wednesday or Sunday, there is a great €42 half-day trip from Bordeaux to St Emilion that includes transport from Bordeaux, a tour of St Emilion including the underground, and a wine tasting & tour at a St Emilion chateau.
This is an excellent value!
So what’s the catch? The only big downside is that you’ll be in a big group of up to 53-people. But the value and savings can be absolutely worth it. Also, this 5-hour tour only runs on Sundays year-round and on Wednesdays from April 1 – November 15. So just be careful to only make your booking on a Wednesday or Sunday. The online booking system, Viator, will allow you to book other days too, but on those days the bus tour goes to different locations around Bordeaux, not Saint Emilion. Also this inexpensive tour to St Emilion is very popular and does book up in advance, particularly in the summer high season. So be sure to reserve as soon as possible if planning this trip in the summer. Book it here on Viator: €42 Half-Day Tour to St Emilion with Chateau & Wine Tasting
Additional Budget-Friendly Day Tour from Bordeaux to St Emilion
If you want to take a tour from Bordeaux to St Emilion, but can’t catch the Wednesday or Sunday bus tour or just don’t want to go with a large group, there are other more intimate, small-group tours available that depart all days of the week. We have carefully scoured the two most popular tour booking sites (Viator and GetYourGuide) to compare the best and most economical tours from Bordeaux to St Emilion.
The table below lays out the results, but be sure to click through the links to confirm the details. (We make our best effort to keep this page up-to-date, but pricing or other info can change periodically.)
|Tour||Length||🚌 Size||Days||Inclusions||Cost||Where to book:|
|Vineyards Tasting||5 hrs||Bus (53 pp)||Su, W*||🏰🍷🕳️__||€42||Viator|
|SE Wine Tour||4 hrs||Minivan||Everyday||🏰🍷__ __||€65||GetYourGuide|
|SE Food & Wine||5 hrs||Minivan (8 pp)||Su, M, Th, Sa||🏰🍷__🍴||€90||GetYourGuide|
|SE Wine Tasting||5.30 hrs||Minibus (19 pp)||Everyday||🏰🍷__🍴||€94||GetYourGuide|
|Chateaux Wine & Lunch||8.30 hrs||Coach||Mondays||🏰🍷🕳️🍽️||€125||Viator|
|Full Day SE Wine Tasting||8 hrs||Minivan (16 pp)||Everyday||🏰🍷__ __||€130||GetYourGuide|
|SE Wine Taste & Lunch||9 hrs||Minivan||Su, Tu, Th, Sa||🏰🍷__🍽️||€152||Viator|
All of the above listed tours include English speaking guides and a tour of St Emilion. The tours simply vary in group size, length, departure times, inclusions, and price. Most do not include a tour of the St Emilion underground, which is often a highlight to visitors. Although even on tours in which the underground monuments are not included, there is sometimes free time in which you may have a chance to explore the underground if the timing works out. Read each tour description for further details.
How to Travel from Bordeaux to St. Emilion by Train
The remainder of this travel guide provides directions on how to get from Bordeaux to St Emilion by train for a DIY tour of this amazing historic village.
You can easily get from Bordeaux to St Emilion by train. There are several trains making the 34-minute trip throughout the day. You can check train times here and find one that works for you. The cost of taking the train from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion is €9.50, per person, each way.
You can purchase your Bordeaux to St Emilion train tickets online. But there is a major benefit to buying your tickets at the Bordeaux train station instead.
During our visit there was no rail ticketing services operating in St. Emilion. Therefor, it is advisable to secure your return ticket Bordeaux to St Emilion in advance. If you’re not sure how much time you’d like to spend in St Emilion, you can book an “open return” rail ticket at the Bordeaux train station. At the time of writing, we are not aware of any way to book an “open return” ticket online, hence our recommendation to book this at the Bordeaux train station. You’ll need to see a ticket agent and cannot use the automated kiosks.
This “open return” won’t cost anything extra, yet will allow you to return whenever you’d like. This open return ticket from Bordeaux to St Emilion can’t be booked online either, so that is why we recommend to buy it at the Bordeaux train station.
Once you arrive at the St. Emilion train station, be prepared for a one-kilometer walk into town and a bit further to reach the center. It’s a pleasant walk through the surrounding vineyards. So as long as you’re in decent shape, it’s easily manageable.
Once within St Emilion, head up to the Tourism Center where you can arm yourself with lots of information from the helpful staff. You will see well-marked signs that will get you there as you walk towards town.
Things To Do in Saint Emilion on a Budget
The day tours from Bordeaux to St Emilion typically include these three main things to do in St Emilion:
- A tour of the underground
- A visit to a winery
- A tour of the town
You can easily replicate each of those experiences when venturing to Saint Emilion for the day on your own.
Tour the Underground
Once you arrive at the tourism center, you’ll most certainly want to book a tour of the St Emilion underground. This is always a highlight to our visits to St Emilion.
The fascinating underground tour culminates in the fascinating monolithic church. And while you can tour the streets of St Emilion on your own, you can only access the underground of St Emilion with the guided tour that you sign up to join at the St Emilion tourism office.
Additionally you should know that there are only a few English speaking tours per day and they do fill up. It is wise to book the St Emilion underground tour in advance online. But even if you don’t book in advance, you may still be able to buy a ticket from the tourism office in St. Emilion, which is also where the tour meets. The hour-long guided tour of the underground is priced at a very reasonable €9 per person. You can find times and make reservations directly from the English-version of the Saint Emilion Tourism Board site here: St Emilion Tourism Board English Website to Book €9 Underground Tour
Tour a Winery and Cellar
Also, if you’d like to visit a winery (and you should), the tourism office can inform you which ones are open on the day of your visit and within walking distance from town. Often you need a reservation in advance to visit the wineries, but the tourism office can help you phone a winery and to make a same-day reservation for a visit. If so, we recommend visiting the office as soon as you arrive, so you can arrange that. Otherwise, consider enquiring in advance if you’d prefer to have a set itinerary or to visit a specific winery.
The price of a winery tour here will range from about €5-€10 per person, depending on the winery, and will usually include at least two tastings. Be sure to visit a St Emilion winery that includes a tour of the underground cellars, which are legendary here, as they tend to house prized wine bottles that are many decades old.
Tour the Town of Saint Emilion on Your Own
Lastly, while at the tourism office, be sure to pick up a complimentary map, which includes information about all the aboveground sites and monuments. This will enable you to tour this magnificent town on your own, in between your winery and underground tour.
Entrance to all of the sites and monuments are free, with the exception of the tower. The tower costs a mere €1.25.
Where To Eat in St Emilion on a Budget
Some of the package tours include lunch. Yet going to St Emilion on your own will give you flexibility to eat wherever you want. There are many tourist restaurants around town, which tend to be horrendously overpriced. So use caution and always look at menu prices here before sitting down.
Keep a keen eye and you will find some great chalkboard specials or a splendid sidewalk café where you can have a decent lunch of a salad or sandwich for under €10. Set menu deals can be found closer to the €15 range.
The tourism office has bound directory of restaurants with menu price ranges. So it may be worthwhile to peruse their up-to-date listings before making a dining decision. Or you can just duck down an alleyway to find your own secret spot. Yet here are some of our budget-friendly suggestions for lunch in St Emilion:
For a quick & cheap lunch in St Emilion, we can recommend Mie and Merlot, for its sandwiches and pastries. It’s just a small, casual place to grab something for takeaway or to eat at one of the few tables. You’ll likely pass by this cheap eatery from the train station into town.
For an incredible value prix fixe lunch, try Restaurant Chez la Puce, where you can actually indulge in a 6-course set menu lunch for only €14! The only catch here is that it’s a bit out of the way. From the train station, you must walk about 12-minutes in the opposite direction from the St Emilion village.
For an economical meal in town, eat some crepes at Trouher Creperie Bretonne. For about €10 or so, you can devour one of the many delicious sweet and savory crepes that are quite filling for a casual lunch. Bonus: they have a decent beer and cider selection too!
Where To Drink in St Emilion on a Budget
If the tastings during the winery tour aren’t enough for you, we have another spot to suggest… and it’s free! The Maison du Vin of Saint Emilion is located next to the tourism center and they generously offer complimentary tastings throughout their impressive wine selection. Check the times in advance because these free wine tastings don’t last all day.
During our last visit, open tastings were from 2:00-5:30 pm. So go enjoy your free tastings there. Then with all the money you’re saving from forgoing an expensive packaged tour, perhaps consider buying a bottle or two of the local St Emilion wine.
Saint Emilion Day Trip for Under €50
So that is exactly how you can go from Bordeaux to St Emilion for under €50. Either follow the directions by train laid out within this post or take the €42 Bordeaux Vineyards Wine Tasting Half Day Trip that departs on Wednesdays and Sundays. Or join a small-group tour.
Whichever route you take, a day trip from Bordeaux to St Emilion should prove to be an economical and fun-filled day in this historic & charming place in the world.
Travel in Europe can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. We hope this travel guide helps you save some cash that you can now better spend elsewhere during your travels. Enjoy!
For more economical travel ideas in the region, be sure to check out our full travel guide: Things To Do in Bordeaux on a Budget.
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