Yesterday late afternoon, we took the TGV down to Bordeaux to visit the wine regions for which the area is famous, as well as the little medieval town called Saint Emilion. Today, we hired a guide to take us out to the Saint Emilion and Pomerol wine regions. Chris is more familiar with different wine varietals than I am, though we both enjoy wine and pretty much all alcohol, but Bordeaux wine has always eluded him given that it’s not so much the grape varietal that matters, but the chateau from which the wine came. There are thousands of chateaux in the area, though. That apparently has caused a lot of lack of understanding of the wine in this area not just for those outside of France, but also even for those in the Bordeaux region itself!
We saw and tasted many impressive and beautiful things today, but when our guide described to us the real meaning of living and working in a UNESCO World Heritage site, I couldn’t believe it and was shocked; I’d never even thought of things like that before. The town of Saint Emilion has UNESCO World Heritage status, which means that anyone that builds or owns anything within the town’s limits needs to have approvals for anything and everything that happens there. In addition to that, as an owner or builder, you can only hire certain contractors, certain architects, certain workers to construct for you. That’s another code for: you don’t really own what you own. You have to be dictated what to do and how to do it, and definitely how much money you are going to spend on it (which is clearly a LOT because these people will charge you as much as they can since they know they have the power to given the laws). It was tiring to hear how arduous the entire process was. What he described sounded like a retiree’s nightmare. This certainly wasn’t a place any French person would want to retire to no matter how quaint, quiet, and beautiful the town of Saint Emilion is. If anyone thinks it’s strict in cities like San Francisco or New York, don’t even think about this area.