For the festive season, France Today is exploring Cognac Country in an exclusive Web series. A bottle of cognac is a fabulous (and covetable!) gift for the holidays, and a visit to the vineyards and cognac houses in Poitou-Charentes is an even bigger gift.
Nestled on the banks of the picturesque river Charente, Cognac is a bustling town which today lives and breathes the world-famous brandy that carries its name.
When the drink was first produced in the 17th century, Cognac was already a thriving river port, trading in salt from the French Atlantic Coast and in wine from the local vineyards. It also had royal connections – François I was born in 1494 at Château des Valois, now home to the Maison Otard cognac. In 2015, France will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the king’s coronation, so it’s the perfect time to see François I’s birthplace!
Many other prestigious cognac brands are based in the town today, including Hennessy and Martell, Remy Martin and Camus, all of whom offer a variety of general interest and specialist tours. For more information about cognac the spirit, see our recent article.
Start off at the Musée des Arts du Cognac beside the riverside ramparts to discover the big picture of cognac-related crafts from vine-growing and barrel-making to blending, bottling and packaging. Then pop next door to the Espace Découverte en Pays du Cognac to learn about the natural and architectural heritage of Cognac and the surrounding countryside, through models, interactive screens and a multi-sensory show.
Enjoy the atmosphere of the Old Town, stroll beside the Charente, and relax at a café – over a glass of cognac or pineau aperitif, of course!
For more information about travel to Cognac, click here.