River Charente



A jewel in the Charente region, here's why you should visit Cognac.

Although Angouleme is the capital of the Charente department, it is Cognac that is more famous worldwide.

Cognac is an attractive town on the River Charente with a well preserved medieval old town and many well preserved buildings from the 18th century. Sights to see include the Château des Valois, a Musee d’Art et d’Histoire but it is the grand marques such as Hennessy, Courvoisier, Martell, Rémy Martin and the famous liqueur Grand Marnier that people come to see. Cognac has the area’s only Michelin star restaurant (La Ribaudière) which is unsurprising as the rich surrounding terroir nurtures such fine farm and game produce and ensures a distinct gastronomic experience.


Cognac Distillery tours are fascinating, with varied histories explaining why so many foreigners such as 18th century Irishman Richard Hennessy found themselves thriving in the nascent Cognac trade. A cathedral-like awe in the old distilleries inspires a certain reverence for the distilling process and indeed the nectar itself. A sample is usually included at the end and drivers need fear not, they can take home a miniature instead. The Hennessy tour includes a boat ride which makes it probably the best distillery for younger children.


Although the big internationally famous brands account for most exports there are 200 distilleries in the region and tours of independent family-owned distilleries can be rewarding. Keep an eye out for signs and just pop in if you see an accompanying sign Vente Directe. Also some excellent brandies and Pineaus can be sourced at far cheaper prices than the big houses. See Jarnac and Jonzac too in Cognac Country.


Don’t miss... A distillery tour. Sample Pineau de Charente, a cognac based sweet aperitif which is under-appreciated and a must try delicacy for all visitors. A fine souvenir to take home.

*article written by James Wignall, author of the Family Travel Journal, www.familytraveljournal.co.uk.

*photo by Pamela Smith, www.pamelajaynephotography.com

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Entry fees, opening hours and other information correct at the time of publishing, December 2017.

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