If it isn’t made here it isn’t Cognac !
The historic small town of Cognac is home to the major Cognac houses which offer tastings and tours. The Discovery Space and the Museum of the Arts of Cognac explain the history of the town and King Francis 1st of France, who was born here, as well as the story of cognac.
It is amongst the rolling, sun-drenched vineyards where the grapes are grown to produce the world-famous spirit that you will find the small distilleries, some now run by the 5th and 6th generation of the same family, who will be delighted to welcome you for a tasting. As well as cognac, discover Pineau des Charentes and Charentais wines.
We are happy to recommend our favourites.
The Bordeaux wine region begins just an hour to the south. Take a ferry trip from Royan to the vineyards of the Medoc and the Chateaux of Margaux, Pauillac and many more top names.
For the freshest seafood head to La Tremblade or follow the Oyster route on the Ile d’Oléron.
Look out for Ile de Re potatoes and hand-harvested sea salt, Charente melons, sheep and goat’s milk cheeses, cagouilles and Grillon charentais at street markets and festivals, in cosy bistros and Michelin starred-restaurants, from gourmet shops, or straight from the producers.
On May 1st experience the “brin d’aillet” which may bring you good luck all year !
Via a network of quiet country lanes and marked trails explore the vineyards, the river valleys and the coast on foot, by bike, with a donkey or on horseback.
The Flow Vélo, the riverside cycle route from Thiviers in the Dordogne to the Ile d’Aix runs through Cognac. The Alps-Atlantic long distance walk GR4 passes within 300 metres of Demeure du Chapitre.
The River Charente, described by King Henry IV as “The most beautiful river in my kingdom”, is accessible by river cruiser or canoe, as well as lovely riverside walks.
Royan is the port of departure for boat trips to discover the Gironde estuary and the Cordouan lighthouse, as well as sailing lessons, boat hire and fishing trips. This whole area boasts beautiful beaches, from the sheltered, family friendly beach of Royan to the wild, secluded dunes of the Cote Sauvage.
Golfers are spoilt for choice, with the 18-hole Golf du Cognac just a 20 minute drive away, set in the beautiful valley of the Charente, Golf de Royan at less than an hour away with its dunes and pine trees, and the course at La Rochelle offering lovely sea views.
Places to visit
Cognac (7km, 10 mins) is just a 10 minute drive or an hour and a half’s pleasant stroll through the woods and vineyards. King François the first was born here in 1494. Several of the large Cognac houses are located in the town including Hennessy, Martell, Camus, Meukow and Baron Otard. The beautiful old town centre has impressive buildings, architecture, museums and public gardens. There is a rich programme of music and cultural festivals every year, notably the Blues Passions festival and the Fête de Cognac.
The medieval village of Pons (22km, 25 mins) is dominated by the enormous keep (Le Donjon). At the bottom of the village is the Pilgrims’ Hospital. It is a designated UNESCO world heritage site.
Discover the history of Saintes (25km, 25 mins) through its architecture, from the Roman Amphitheatre (40-50AD) and triumphal arch, to the 11th century Abbaye aux Dames, the 12 th century cathedral of Saint- Pierre and the church of Saint-Eutrope, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Rochefort (74km, 1 hour) is a beautiful town with a rich maritime history. Chosen by King Louis the 14th as the site for one of his naval dockyards, the town has spectacular buildings, scenery, forts and bridges. You may be lucky enough to see The Hermione if she is in port. Don’t miss the Corderies.
L’île de Ré
The idyllic island of Ile de Ré (112km, 1hour 15 mins) has beautiful villages, ports and beaches all accessible by bicycle. For dining and shopping visit La Flotte and Saint Martin de Ré with its formidable Citadel. Famous for its sea salt and oysters, it is a favourite holiday destination for the rich and famous. It is extremely busy in July and August.
The entrance to the charming old fishing port of La Rochelle (100km, 1 hour 15 mins) is guarded by magnificent twin towers. Venture in to the old town and experience the ornate buildings, half-timbered medieval houses and fabulous architecture. There is also a large modern marina, aquarium and wonderful beaches. The Francofolies music festival is the big summer event of the town. The Grand Pavois boat show is held here every autumn. La Rochelle offers boat trips to view Fort Boyard and the islands – Ile de Ré, Ile d’Aix and Ile d’Oleron.