Is Cognac France Worth Visiting?


Last Updated on 10/01/2023 by Alfred

Visiting Cognac: what are the things to see and the experiences to live in this remarkable city of the Charente?

The Charente city, at the origin of the famous eau-de-vie, owes its universal reputation to its superb terroir. Emblem of the city, it is discovered through its streets, museums, and workshops, essential stops when you want to visit Cognac. But if the history of the city is linked to that of its cognac, it is not limited to him.

Witness the history of France; the city is home to an important heritage, shows a beautiful cultural dynamism, and has pleasant natural spaces. Do you want to discover this renowned destination? Here is our list of must-do things to do in Cognac!

1. The Château de Cognac

The Château de Cognac dominates the Charente River. Former fortress of the tenth century and birthplace of Francis I (1494), the historical monument was saved from destruction by Baron Otard in the nineteenth century. The manager of the cognac house had understood that the thickness of the walls of the building offered exceptional conditions for the aging of its eaux-de-vie.

Nowadays, the two lives of the castle are visible and told during organized visits, unusual routes to do in Cognac. Thus, these tours follow an amazing circuit that starts in the historical part of the place and ends in the cellars with a tasting of the production.

2. The House of the Lieutenancy

Visiting Cognac also means discovering century-old architecture. Thus, one of the emblems of the city is the house of La Lieutenancy, which is also nicknamed the Old House. Built according to the architecture of the Middle Ages, its recent history is linked to that of the Prunier house.

It served as a point of sale for the cognac company during the interwar period. However, the building was bought by the descendants of the Prunier family later, in 1970. Since then, the house of La Lieutenancy has served as a showcase for the products of the cognac house.

3. The Cognac Arts Museum

What to visit in Cognac? Don’t miss the Cognac Arts Museum! The establishment dedicates its 1,600 m² to the history of the city, its terroir, and the secrets of making the famous eaux-de-vie.

Thus, it forms a whole with the Espace découverte en pays du cognac. Organized on nearly 400 m² and two levels, the latter gives access to a lot of information in terms of viticulture, oenology, distillation, cooperage, trade … and everything that allows the cognac trade.

4. Cognac houses

With an international reputation, cognac became an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in 1936. Thus, this treasure of the terroir can be analyzed from every angle during exciting visits to the cognac houses. The city has a number of them; they do well via their ranges but also thanks to their more or less recent stories.

Thus, we can mention: ABK6, Bache-Gabrielsen, Baron Otard, Maison Boinaud, Camus, Cognac Courvoisier, A. De Fussigny, Maison Frapin, Hennessy, Thomas Hine & C°, Martell, Meukow, Rémy Martin, Roullet-Fransac and Tiffon-Braastad. Emblematic cognac houses that allow the city to shine all over the world. As a reminder, 98% of cognac production is exported!

On the visiting side, choose the rarest houses, such as that of Baron Otard in the castle of Cognac, that of Hennesy, whose circuit includes navigation, or that of Remi Martin, labeled Living Heritage Company. A unique experience to do in Cognac.

5. The public garden of Cognac

The public garden of Cognac was born from the merger of two properties: the Hotel Otard de la Grange, current City Hall, and the Hotel Dupuy d’Angeac, now the Municipal Museum.

Classified in 1943, it has the characteristics of an English garden. The seven hectares of green space are organized in lawns and groves; they form sinuous lines and emblematic perspectives of this style.

During your walk in the garden, you can see a pagoda, an orangery, a nature theater, caves and waterfalls. There is even a pretty neo-Gothic tower that is listed in the Supplementary Inventory of Historical Monuments. It is nicknamed “factory.”

6. Wonderwall’s street art

Historical Monuments are not the only elements of the city that encourage contemplation. In the heart of Cognac, the Dog Association collective has created an open-air art gallery called Wonderwall.

This street art tour allows you to admire the colorful works of the city’s graffiti artists. Sown in the four corners of the city, they are perfectly integrated into its streets. An unusual visit to make in Cognac.

7. Gabarre walks on the Charente River

Nicknamed “the most beautiful stream of the kingdom” by Henry IV, the Charente was, for a long time, the main trade route between the Atlantic coast and the hinterland. At the time, it was traversed by heavy barges, flat-bottomed boats specially made to transport goods. Among them: the Cognac Eaux-de-vie that they transported to the sea!

Nowadays, it is, therefore, possible to take the river for a gabarre cruise. If it starts in Saint-Simon, about twenty kilometers from the city, it is one of the essential activities to do in Cognac and its surroundings.

8. Festivals

Throughout the year, Cognac vibrates to the rhythm of many events. Historical or cultural, linked or not to its terroir, they testify to the cultural dynamism of the city.

One of the most impressive events in the city is a historical show that takes place in July at the foot of the castle of Bourg-Charente. On the banks of the Charente, he tells the story of Cognac in eleven scripted paintings.

Its most prestigious festival is the Cognac Blues Passions. He has seen artists like Ray Charles, BB King, and Joe Cocker on the stage of the Nature Theater in the city’s public garden. City of letters, Cognac also hosts a polar festival since 1996 and the event European Literatures.

Finally, since the city is attached to its terroir, cognac is celebrated in several events: the Cognac Festival, the Festi ‘Classique en Pays de Cognac, which combines music and cognacs, and the Marathon du cognac, a friendly, gourmet, and sporting event.

9. Local specialties

Cognac has a very fragrant terroir. In addition to the grapes used in its cognacs, the city is a truffle land. Between 1870 and 1910, the department was even one of its major producers. Nowadays, on the market of Jarnac, at the exit of Cognac, it is possible to buy truffles controlled by the union of truffle growers Charentais.

On-site, the merchants will give you ideas for well-inspired recipes such as truffle with cognac, a 100% Charentais delight. Lovers of artisanal flavors will also appreciate Le Baume de Bouteville, a sweet balsamic aged in Cognac barrels. Its aromas make it possible to sublimate the shells.

Another Charente delicacy: the cornuelles. These triangular biscuits are initially eaten during the Rameaux. Today, they have found their place on the shelves of foodies from all over the region.

How to get to Cognac?

By plane

Cognac does not have an airport. However, those of La Rochelle (100 km) and Bordeaux (120 km) allow you to come by air.

To complete the journey, you will have to take the train or rent a vehicle. To leave with a light mind, remember to consult a flight comparator such as Skyscanner, it will inform you of all the good deals of the moment.

By train

The city of Cognac is located on the route of several interesting train lines. They allow you to reach the Atlantic coast and the largest cities in the region without taking the wheel. Regular connections include Cognac – Angoulême, Cognac – Royan and Cognac – La Rochelle.

By road

If it is located in the heart of a wine-growing land, the city of Cognac is not isolated. Indeed, it can be reached by the A10 motorway, via Saintes or Pons, or the N10 national road, via Barbezieux or Angoulême.

As for distance, it takes about 460 km between Cognac and Paris, 130 km with Limoges, 120 km with Bordeaux, and 95 km with La Rochelle.

Where to stay in Cognac?

In Cognac, you can enjoy an impressive range of accommodations: teepees, cottages, bed and breakfasts, hotels, and Airbnb… The options range from the most classic to the most unusual.

To choose the one that will suit your expectations, the best is to consult a hotel comparator. The most suitable accommodations for a stay focused on discovery are located on the banks of the Charente and around the Château de Cognac. On average, the night costs 85€.

Alfred

Alfred is the author behind the Travelvibe travel blog and is always searching for the quieter, less-visited corners of the world.

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