Cognac is a small town in the southwest France in Charente province well-known as a world capital of the unique brandy. The first grape-vines appeared in this region 2000 years ago but just in 17th century (1643) locals produced the first brandy. As you can imagine, all in the town is about cognac.
What is Cognac?
It is a grape-based spirit produced from the white vine plants. Vineyards take over 79 000 ha includes 6 different areas called “crus”. Each of them characterize different soil features, which provide specific qualities for this spirit.
Apparently, this is the main business here along with tradition appreciated all around the world. Most of the people I met in the town work in alcohol industry: some as a tourist guides, some with distillation, some with barrels, some with accounting. It’s all about cognac! Advertisements on the streets, posters billboards – everywhere spirits! And the smell all around! I wrote a separate post about cognac production and what to pay attention to while buying a cognac.
What to see in Cognac?
Even though Cognac is surely one of the off the beaten path spots in France, I assure you it’s worth to stop not only for spirit connoisseurs. The city itself is very old, full of narrow streets and medieval houses. The main square (Francios Premiere) carries many cafes and restaurants. A pedastrian street will take you to the local market and cathedral. If you continue farther you will reach little castle and the old gate to the city, which is an icon of Cognac.
I highly recommend walking around the old part as on every step there is a different Maison de cognac – house of cognac. Some of them are really beautiful palaces. Next to the castle will see fortress of Hannessy – the biggest cognac company. If you continue exploring the city, you will see Maison de cognac of Martell, Remy Martin, Camus, Meukow and much more.
Just next to the old part, there is a city park with city hall. Beautiful park with fountains, places to relax and a stage, which often hosts some local artists.
For a longer walk or bike ride there is a great path along the river with amazing views and palaces on the way. Very popular tourists’ attraction (during the season) is the boat ride called “La gabare” which takes you for 1,5 hours trip on the Charente river with a guide saying history of the place.
Tourist information is localized next to the main square. It provides all kinds of information as well as reservation of tours in cognac houses. Moreover, it is equipped in the local goods such as jams, honey or cookies. For buying cognac the best is, of course straight from producer. Otherwise, there is a shop called “Cognacteque” on the main square as well which has large variety of choice.
See the short film I made as a souvenir from the town of Cognac.
Cognac is all about cognac while Czechia is all about beer! Check where to go for a beer in Prague as well as Czech beer essential guide in the Czech brewery’s tradition. If you are a fan of wine I invite you to the biggest wine cellar in the world!