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Do You Need a Car in Saint-Emilion, France?

It is possible to visit Saint-Emilion without a car.  

There is a train that runs between Bordeaux and Saint-Emilion. However, having a car can be convenient if you want to visit specific wineries in the region which may be 5 to 15 minutes away from the town.


Pros of renting a car to visit Saint-Emilion:

There are several advantages to renting a car when visiting Saint-Emilion:

  1. Convenience: Renting a car gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore the beautiful wine region at your own pace, without being tied to a schedule or route set by a tour operator or public transportation.  For example, if you are looking to have a nice long French lunch in the countryside between your winery visits, you will need the flexibility of having your own car.

  2. Wider choice of wineries:  As some wineries are located far from the train station and the town of Saint-Emilion, you would need some transportation to get there.  In my experience, as of 2023, there are no wine tours originating from Saint-Emilion. 

  3. Cost: Renting a car can be more cost-effective than taking organized tours, especially if you are traveling with a group or looking for a private tour.


Cons of renting a car to visit Saint-Emilion:

It’s worth noting that while renting a car can offer a number of advantages, it also comes with some inconveniences and potential costs:
1. Parking: It is not easy to park in Saint-Emilion, especially during the popular months of May to October. 
2. Fuel and parking fees.  Read about parking in Saint-Emilion in my article Where is Saint-Emilion and How to Get There.
3. Limits your wine-tasting experience.  
4. Narrow roads in Saint-Emilion and in the wine country.

Here are my suggestions for those who want to go around Saint-Emilion without a car:

1. Take a Train from Bordeaux

Taking the train is a convenient and easy way to get to Saint-Emilion from Bordeaux, and it is a good way to avoid the hassle of driving and finding parking.  

Trains run from Bordeaux Gare Saint Jean and catch a regional train to Saint Emilion. You can buy tickets online or at a machine at the station. Trains run approximately every 1-2 hours. 

It takes approximately 30-35 minutes to get from Bordeaux to Saint-Emilion by train. 

Once you arrive at Saint-Emilion, there is a walk of approximately 20–30 minutes to the center of the town. It is an uphill walk. You may want to take a bottle of water with you.  The good news is that you can visit wineries on your way from Saint-Emilion train station to the town.


2. Explore Saint-Emilion on Foot

The town of Saint-Emilion is small and easily walkable, so you should be able to see many of the main sights and attractions on foot.

The town is known for its picturesque streets, charming houses, and medieval architecture.

Some streets are very steep with slippery stones, however, in general, Saint-Emilion is a small town easy to walk around as long as you have good shoes.

I have listed the main attractions of Saint-Emilion and places to eat in my guide:

What to Do in Saint-Emilion? The Ultimate Guide to Saint-Emilion and the Wine Country 

3. Visit Wineries In and Around of Saint-Emilion

There are definitely many opportunities to taste wines at one of the many wine shops in the town of Saint-Emilion.  In addition, there are wineries inside the town walls and within the walking distance from Saint-Emilion.

3. Rent a Bike and Explore the Surroundings

If you want to explore further afield, there are several bike trails that lead to nearby towns and villages. These trails offer a great way to see the region’s beautiful landscapes and discover hidden gems.

You can even join a bike tour through the famous Saint-Emilion vineyards.

3. Have Dinner or Lunch at a Wine Country Restaurant

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4. Stay a Night in Saint-Emilion or at a Chateau

It might be worth considering staying a night in Saint-Emilion so that you have enough time to fully enjoy all that the town has to offer. 

If you’re planning to stay in Saint-Émilion, you’ll have a variety of accommodation options to choose from, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and apartments at chateaux.

There are many charming hotels located within the walls of the historic town such as the Badon Boutique Hotel and Le Maison du Clocher.  If you prefer a more intimate setting, there are also a number of bed and breakfasts at wineries in the surrounding area, such as Le Relais de Franc Mayne Saint EmilionChâteau de Ferrand or Le Logis de Valandraud.


Before You Go

Personalized travel insurance is always good to have.

Get up to 30% off your car rental in Europe with

If you are looking for a driver or a private transfer in Bordeaux see some options here.

Where to Stay in Bordeaux?

Bordeaux city stays

Saint-Emilion/Right Bank stays

Medoc/Left Bank stays

See more tips on visiting Bordeaux wine country in my Blog.  

If you are interested in a private wine tour of Saint-Emilion or Medoc wineries, see our tours at Atlas Bordeaux.

Enjoy your time in Bordeaux!

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