The secrets of the Cordeliers Cloister
The Cloister of the Cordeliers, a magical and mysterious place which fascinates by its history and its so special wine, in the heart of Saint-Emilion… What is his secret?
A HISTORICAL AND ATYPICAL CLOISTER
It is difficult to define precisely when the Cordeliers settled in Saint-Emilion (a priori, in the XIIIth century nevertheless). However, it is known that they were first settled outside the walled city of St. Emilion. Of course, in this place, they were an easy prey (you have to put yourself in the context of the time…). It was in the middle of the 14th century that the pope allowed them to settle in the safety of thecity.
The Cordeliers period
This magnificent place that you see in the picture above was built in the 14th century by Franciscan monks, following very strict precepts: to live in obedience, fraternity, chastity and without any property of their own.
Any idea of the origin of the name “Cordelier Monks?” It is obvious (when you know it): These monks are called “Cordeliers” because of the rope they wore at the waist to hold their “robe”.
This nickname was given to them by Jean de Beaufort during the seventh crusade. This nickname is given to several monuments or neighborhoods where the Franciscans had convents (For example: the Cordeliers club is in reference to the chapel of the Cordeliers convent in Paris where the club held meetings).
During 4 centuries, the monks lived a relatively peaceful life (but always in chastity!). They built the Cloister (as we know it), the Corps des logis (for eating and sleeping), a nice little vegetable garden… As well asa cellar (for wine making). We can therefore deduce thatthe monks were already producing wine, but very far from the one we know today! A wine certainly dedicated to an internal consumption of the cloister and not commercial – and even less sparkling, as is the case today.
The end of the Cloister
Still, 4 centuries later… We are in 1789! (and the Revolution that goes with it). The order being forbidden, the Cloister was abandoned by the monks who had to leave the estate and disperse.
The place remained abandoned until the 19th century when, after long works, the place was rehabilitated (then restored) so that we can enjoy it today. It was the Meynot family who acquired it, as well as the 3 km of underground galleries, with an original idea: to produce sparkling wine in Saint-Emilion!
A WINE JUST AS ATYPICAL FOR THE REGION
One does not expect to find this kind of wine in Saint-Emilion and it is a pity! The Cloister carefully respects the Champagne method (not being in Champagne, it is impossible to call it that…) andthe result is up to all expectations.
Following a carefully guarded method, the Cloître des Cordeliers sources its grapes locally, but ensures that the traditional method of harvesting (by hand and in open-work racks) is applied. Then follows the whole method of wine making… A process very well explained during the visits (or in playing with the app. Atlantide 🙄)
In a place so full of history, a refreshing and sparkling tasting brings even more flavor to the discovery.
You know what to do in Saint-Emilion now!
How to visit the cloister
It is accessible free of charge (see the opening hours on their website) directly in the center of Saint-Emilion. The ideal being to park as soon as possible and to benefit from a small stroll to join the Cloister.
Once there, you have several options at your disposal:
Free, but don’t forget everything you read!
The guided tour
Always a good time, you will have the opportunity to walk through the cellars and to go further in the explanations on the history of the Cloister. Count about ten euros per person for one hour of visit.
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A visit of the cellars by electric tuk-tuk
An original concept, but very effective! The opportunity to walk through the kilometers of underground wine-making galleries without getting tired. All this withfascinating explanations! The experience is a bit more expensive though, as it costs 25 € per person.
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“Escape game in the Cloister of the Cordeliers
By playing with theAtlantis application, you will be able to discover the history of the place through an adventure featuring the characters of the time. An original experience, to be done on your own (without an appointment!) for families as well as for groups offriends. Playable from 3.99 € per group (3 people per group)
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Access codes available online