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) 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) ferries visitors round on a little train; Camus is still a family-run outfit; at Hennessy you can cross the river on a boat to visit the storehouses; Meukow is run by a family of Franco-Russian entrepreneurs; and at Martell 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, an 18km drive northwest of Cognac, which shows the evolution of the distillation process and includes tasting of cognacs and liqueurs.

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