Sitting at the top of the 13,000 or so hectares of clay and compact soil that make up the Grande Champagne region of France, where the very finest quality of eau-de- vie is produced, lies the charming town of Cognac France. Blessed with a mild and sunny climate and surrounded with a beautiful landscape of vineyards, winding rural roads, pine forests, Romanesque churches, and old chateaus sitting on hillsides, the town rests peacefully on the banks of the gently moving Charente River.
The town was originally involved in the salt trade, but in the 18th century the salt business declined and the eau-de- vie, to which the town gave its name, took its place. In Cognac you can explore not only the famous cognac houses of Remy Martin, Martell and Hennessy, but you can also meander through the medieval, tiled roofed vielle ville (old town), the birthplace of King Francois I. Visit the Rue Grande, the old town’s main street and admire the half timbered houses and interesting architecture, including La Maison de la Lieutenance. On the Rue Saulnier, the street slopes evoking the city’s past as a thriving trading center for precious salt.
The more modern part of the town centers around the Square Francois I which is filled with restaurants, boutiques, and terraces and opens onto Place d’ Armes, where the liveliest indoor market in the region takes place. There is also the lovely King Francois I Park, with its rose gardens and water features, which is located near the Charente River.
If you want some excitement when you visit, come during one of the town’s festivals. The La Fete du Cognac, where local food and cognacs are unveiled, is held in July. The Cognac Blues Passion Festival is held in the July/August time frame and includes several days and nights of Afro-American music. For a more educational experience, November is the month of the European Literature festival.
Only one hundred miles north of Bordeaux, Cognac and the surrounding countryside is one of France’s best kept secrets! Come and enjoy! Vivre la vie!
Check out our travel and information links on the front page to learn more about Cognac France.