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.

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