Saint-Émilion is truly a magnificent open-air museum. It all started with a modest hermit…
In the 8th century, a monk named Émilion from Vannes in Brittany chose to withdraw from the world in a place named Ascumbas (the town's original name).
Émilion left his family and native Brittany to devote his life to solitude and prayer.
He proved to be very kind and generous to the few people he came into contact with, and performed his fair share of miracles. His reputation soon spread far beyond the Dordogne Valley and many disciples came to be by his side. Émilion evangelised the local population, and created what went on to become a major monastic centre that his followers naturally named after him.
This holy man died on 6 January of the year 767, having spent the last seventeen years of his life in his hermitage. The town of Saint-Émilion and its fabulous underground monuments grew up around this hermitage.