Explore Poitou-Charentes and the Atlantic coast
Anyone who does not already know what Cognac is about will quickly nose its quintessential air as they stroll about the medieval lanes of the town’s riverside quarter. For here is the greatest concentration of chais (warehouses), where the high-quality brandy is matured, its fumes blackening the walls with tiny fungi. Cognac is cognac, from the tractor driver and pruning-knife wielder to the manufacturer of corks, bottles and cartons. Untouched by recession (eighty percent of production is exported), it is likely to thrive as long as the world has sorrows to drown – a sunny, prosperous, self-satisfied little place.
Cognac has a number of medieval stone and half-timbered buildings in the narrow streets of the old town, of which rue Saulnier and rue de l’Îsle-d’Or make atmospheric backdrops for a stroll, while picturesque Grande-Rue winds through the heart of the old quarter to the chais, down by the river. The attractive Hôtel de Ville is set in pleasant gardens just to the east.Read More
Cognac in Cognac
Cognac in Cognac
No trip to Cognac is complete without investigating the drink behind the town. All the major houses open their doors, and bottles, to visitors, so you can pick the one that appeals to your interests: Otard (127 bd Denfert-Rochereau; t05 45 36 88 86, wbaronotard.com; 1hr) is historical – the birthplace of François I in 1494, and a prison for British prisoners after the Seven Years War; vast Remi Martin (20 rue de la Société Vinicole; t05 45 35 76 66, wremimartin.com; 1hr 30min) ferries visitors round on a little train; Camus (wcamus.fr) is still a family-run outfit; at Hennessy (whennessy.com) you can cross the river on a boat to visit the storehouses; Meukow (wmeukowcognac.com) is run by a family of Franco-Russian entrepreneurs; and at Martell (wcognac.martell.com) you can visit the founder’s home, and a replica of a traditional cognac barge. You will find more historical information at Écomusée du Cognac (t05 46 94 91 16) an 18km drive northwest of Cognac, which shows the evolution of the distillation process and includes tasting of cognacs and liqueurs.