The name Cognac is known worldwide thanks to the spirit of the same name, but not everyone knows that it is also the name of a city well worth a visit! This city is located in the department of Charente in Nouvelle-Aquitaine in the South-West of France.
Located between Bordeaux and La Rochelle, just 1h30 by car or train from these 2 cities, the city of Cognac is therefore placed in the middle of a setting of vineyards while being at the same time close to the Atlantic Ocean.
But Cognac is also located at the crossroads of the Charente Limousine, with its landscapes of meadows where its famous cows graze, as well as at the gates of the Périgord, whose reputation for gastronomy is well established.
Visiting Cognac means, first and foremost, discovering a city with a rich history and heritage.
To visit the city of Cognac is to discover its history, to learn that this city existed long before the spirit, which dates only from the 17th century, and which took its name from the city.
During your visit, you will discover a heritage rich in architecture dating from different eras and various styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, flamboyant Baroque…
The different districts of the city have developed according to the times: you will walk around the Old Cognac, which dates from the time when the fortified city was surrounded by ramparts and which was accessed by one of the 3 gates, the only trace of which is currently visible is the Porte Saint Jacques.
You will discover its cobbled streets, its half-timbered houses, you will visit the Saint Léger church and its priory.
You will also learn that Cognac, due to its exceptional economic development linked to the rise of the famous brandy in the eighteenth century, concentrates a surprisingly high number of mansions for such a small town (about 20,000 inhabitants).
Going up to Place François 1er – where you can admire the equestrian statue dedicated to him, you will pass by the Indoor Market, whose Eiffel frame makes the charm of the buildings of that time.
When visiting Cognac, your steps will naturally lead you to the Quays bordering the Charente, a popular place for walking among the people of Cognac. In addition to the Hennessy house located on the Quays of the same name, you will find the Royal Castle of Cognac, birthplace of François 1er in 1494. Sold at auction during the Revolution, the castle currently houses a spirit merchant: Baron Otard Cognacs. This visit therefore has the particularity of a double interest: historical with the visit of the castle, where you will have the opportunity to discover the helmet room, but also the Guard rooms and the States Room, typical of the Renaissance period with their stone vaults and the double fireplace. But, it is also the visit of a cognac production house, with its aging cellars, located at the level of the Charente – it is moreover for this precise reason that Baron Otard had chosen them at the time, because they offer the ideal conditions for the aging of cognac.
One block away from the Castle, you will appreciate the long walks in the François 1er Park which are the old parks of the Château des Valois, initially located within the castle itself, and which, just a few blocks from the city center, constitutes a “forest-promenade” of 48 hectares. Legend even says that it is right here, at the foot of a tree, that Louise of Savoy, the mother of François 1er, would have given birth to her on September 12, 1494…
Your steps will also most certainly lead you to the park known as Jardin Public, where former merchant mansions have been converted and have become the current Town Hall of the city and the Museum of Art and History. Just like the Cognac Arts Museum has taken place in the oldest of the cognac houses, just at the foot of the old city walls. A visit to the “MACO” will allow you to have an overview of all the know-how related to the production of cognac, but also of the evolution of the technology that has developed around it, such as the mechanization of glass production under the impetus of Claude Boucher.
During your stay here, you will also learn that there is not only a king who was born there, but that Cognac is also the birthplace of Jean Monnet (1888 – 1979), one of the founding fathers of Europe. And it is a little further away, in the town of Jarnac, that François Mitterrand (1916 – 1996), one of the most famous French presidents, was born and is buried.
As your visits progress, you will discover that the history of the city is intrinsically linked to that of cognac, but also to the Charente River, the salt trade, the Dutch, in short it is a rich history that will be told to you during your journey. And you will also understand why most of the cognac houses are located on the banks of the Charente River!
The different ways to visit Cognac
To accompany you in your discovery of the city of Cognac, XO madame offers you a whole range of services so that your trip is adapted to your wishes and your desires:
- Classic visit of the city with a guide lecturer specialist of the destination, where their knowledge will be at the height of your appetite for erudition;
- but it can also be a gourmet visit, during which, along the historical circuit, stops with tastings will be proposed to you: coffee, oysters, chocolate, cheeses…
- we can also offer you more fun ways, such as a visit by electric bike or electric scooter;
- or a discovery through a rally in search of the curiosities of the city or even in the form of a photo rally…
But it is also possible to discover the city of Cognac from the Charente River, which crosses it:
- – Follow your guide by canoe kayak, from where they will make you discover the city and its history from the Charente River – the river that made Cognac’s growth possible;
- – or on board a gabarre, replica of the famous flat-bottomed boat on board which salt and cognac barrels were transported to follow the course of the Charente and reach the estuary in order to set sail from the port of La Rochelle;
To visit Cognac is also to unravel the secrets of the famous spirit
Visiting Cognac also means discovering the cognac houses: in addition to the Royal Castle of Cognac, mentioned earlier for its historical aspect, all the great cognac houses will open the doors of their cellars to you: Hennessy, Martell, Remy Martin, Camus, Baron Otard, Meukow, Bache Gabrielsen.
Of course, these tours will explain to you all how cognac is madebut the diversity of the stories of these houses, the places, the animations and the technical means used make each visit to a cognac house unique and that you can consider doing them all without ever getting tired. However, you may not have time to visit them all, which is why XO madame is here to guide you on the visit that will best meet your expectations in terms of content but also according to your timing and the availability of cognac houses.
Visiting Cognac also means getting out of the city to discover the vineyard
But visiting Cognac also means taking advantage of your stay to get out of the city in order to go to the vineyard to discover the magnificent landscapes that surround it.
To do this, XO madame offers you various possibilities to create your tailor-made stay.
Within the agency, our commitment to sustainable tourism has pushed us to seek to offer you a maximum of eco-responsible solutions in order to discover Cognac and its vineyards:
- for instance, hiking in the vineyard, between the hilly slopes of Grande-Champagne and the banks of the Charente River;
- or by electric-assisted bicycle, in order to be able to combine moderate physical effort and the pleasure of discovery over a greater distance;
- or, even more unusual, a walk in the vineyard on horseback or by electric scooter;
- or more conventionally, in an electric van.
In a less ecological but very fun mode, we can also offer you to discover the vineyard in vintage cars: either aboard a mythical Citroën 2CV or even in a small Lark.
To visit Cognac is to meet the winegrowers
But these incursions into the vineyard are above all an opportunity to meet the winegrowers who cultivate the vines, harvest, vinify, then distill as vintage distillers, and finally patiently age the cognac in the shelter of their aging cellars.
As an incoming agency – DMC – specialized in wine tourism on the Cognac vineyard, all visits to the vineyard that we offer systematically include a meeting with a vintage winemaker, and a visit to the distillery, aging cellars and a tasting of the estate’s products.
Of course, all these getaways are an integral part of a visit to Cognac because they are its natural extension. Departures are either from the tourist office, located in the city center, or directly from your hotel when it comes to privatized visits.
The city of Cognac has all types of accommodation to better meet your expectations
Regarding hotels, as for visits to cognac houses, the XO madame agency will select for your trip the hotel that will best suit your expectations:
- – located in the city center if you are not transported or if you want to be able to go out easily in the evening without having to take your car back afterwards;
- or a little outside the city, or even in the countryside if you want more tranquility;
- we can offer you different categories in order to adapt to all budgets, from 2* to 5* hotel with gourmet restaurant and spa;
- or in a guest house, in a cottage or even in unusual accommodation.
In summary, for all the good reasons listed above, if you are tempted by a stay to discover the city of Cognac, for a weekend or a week, as a couple, with family or friends, do not hesitate to contact the XO madame agency so that together we can elaborate a stay that meets your expectations and your desires.
We would be delighted to help you organize visits and events in the vineyards of Cognac. So please feel free to contact us by telephone, email or using the contact form below. So please feel free to contact us by telephone, email, or using the contact form below, and we will be delighted to respond as quickly as possible to fulfill your expectations.