From Cognac distilleries and outdoor sports, to museums and concerts, there is plenty to keep visitors busy
Most of the famous Cognac houses are located in Cognac itself, including Baron Otard, Camus, Hennessy, Martell, Meukow and Rémy Martin. Nearby Jarnac is home to Courvoisier, Hine and Delamain. For details of visits and experiences, go to www.destination-cognac.com
Charentais table wines come in red, white and rosé, and more than 200 professionals – from wine growers to distillers – welcome visitors for tours and overnight accommodation as part of www.cognacetapes.com.
Atlantic Coast and Cognac Country is home to six 18-hole courses and eight nine-hole courses. Among the 18-hole venues are Golf de Saintes, the oldest in the region; Golf du Cognac, with its vineyard, forest and river backdrop; and the Golf Club de l’Hirondelle, set on hills overlooking Angoulême.
The Charente is navigable for 170km from Angoulême to Rochefort. Pick up a river excursion with commentary – www.charentecroisieres.fr – or hire a self-drive cruiser for a leisurely holiday afloat. Boat rental is available from two to seven days from Inter-Croisières at Sireuil (intercroisieres.com) or from Le Boat at Jarnac (www.leboat.fr).
La Flow Vélo cycle route links Île d’Aix off the Charente coast with the Dordogne, two-thirds of it following the Charente through Rochefort, Saintes, Cognac and Angoulême. Ask at any tourist office about bike hire and cycle-friendly accommodation labelled Accueil Vélo.
Visit Angoulême at the beginning of February for the annual International Comic Book Festival (www.bdangouleme.com).
Food and Drink Events
Good taste and good food are celebrated at Les Gastronomades event in Angoulême in late November, with chefs and food producers sharing their passion and produce with visitors (www.gastronomades.fr). The distillation of Cognac is celebrated throughout the area between December and February with Distilleries en Fête, www.cognacetapes.com.
For classical concerts, check out the Festival Musiques au Pays de Pierre Loti in Rochefort in May (www.festival-mppl.com). There’s world music at the Musiques Métisses in Angoulême also in May (www.musiques-metisses.com), and Afro-American music at Cognac Blues Passions in June (www.bluespassions.com). In July, don’t miss Saintes’s Classical Music Festival (www.abbayeauxdames.org/festival-de-saintes). For celebrations of music, food and drink, head to the Fête du Cognac (www.lafeteducognac.fr).
Look out for Terra Ventura, an innovative family treasure hunt that enables visitors to discover a local area using clues and puzzles on a smartphone app.
From France Today magazine