Come and sample the amber nectar
No-one could come to the Charente without going to the world famous town of Cognac, which can be found on the banks of the river Charente. Famous for its “eau-de-vie” wines and spirits, you’ll definitely want a ‘taster’ on your trip to the Charente.
Cognac itself has a population of 19,500 and is surrounded by 80,000 hectares of vineyards and an amazing 58 hectares of well maintained parks and gardens. It is also within 50 minutes of the coast. This is a town that is lively throughout the year, not just in tourist season, and hosts at least half a dozen festivals.
Cognac dates back many centuries, as far back as the development of the Gallo-Roman civilisation, but is better known from the Middle Ages onwards. As Cognac lies on the Charente it was a port for the salt trade and was granted common rights by Jean sans Terre on 4th July 1215. The town rapidly developed shortly thereafter which was the result of being granted tax privileges. The prosperity came from the salt and wine trades and was fought over during the Medieval period by the English and French.
In the 12th century, the castellany of Cognac became part of the earldom of Angoulême, and as a result, was a favourite residence for a small provincial court. On 12th September 1494, François de Valois-Angoulême was born in Cognac, later to become King François I in 1515.
In the 17th and 18th centuries the salt trade diminished in importance, so the people of Cognac developed the wine trade, aided by family relations in England and Holland, to export its produce. In 1651, during the insurrection of the Fronde, Cognac held out against a siege, for which Louis XIV granted the town several privileges. The wine trade continued to grow and British and Irish families arrived in the 18th century.
From the Revolution to today, Cognac has continued to grow both its wine trade and population, irrespective of the crises that have happened along the way. Subsequently the town of Cognac is today surrounded by 13 communes incorporating about 40,000 inhabitants.
Things to do and see
There are many things to do in Cognac, not least of course, visiting one of the famous Cognac Houses to sample the world famous ‘eau-de-vie’.
You can also take a cruise on the river Charente, visit the castle of François I, take a trip back in history to see one of the many museums, art centres or monuments, discover the famous people from Cognac, or simply stroll through the old town and go shopping in the pedestrian streets of the town centre.
On the place François I you will find many cafés, restaurants, shops and banks. It leads to the heart of the town via the rue d’Angoulême and the place d’Armes where you will find an impressive covered market, inspired by the 19th century “halles” of the architect Victor Baltard. The market is open every day until 1pm.
A short distance away is the recently renovated St Léger church, in the rue Aristide Briand which is prettily decorated with flowers. In the old town, with la place du Canton and la rue Grande, formerly the main shopping street in Cognac.
If this isn’t enough, Cognac holds many events throughout the year for your entertainment, so if you don’t want to miss out on one of the many events.
Cognac is certainly one town you’ll want to discover!
Visit the Visitors Centre in the town to discover more about the region. It is free and can be found at:
Centre d’Accueil du Visiteur
Place de la Salle Verte
Tel: +33 (0)5 45 36 03 65