The town of Cognac and the capital of cognac production in the Charentes, has great historical significance with the Chateau des Valois (now the property of Maison Otard) being the birthplace of King François I. So visitors to Cognac can enjoy both a touch of history alongside a cognac journey when they visit, experiencing either the Kings Way (with a trail through the tiny streets of the old town) or the Belle Epoque route (highlighting the 19th century urban development). En route, visitors will encounter the Charente River, the gardens of the town hall, the museums, the Récollet Convent and the François I Square. Any visit to Cognac can be easily linked to side trips to Saintes and to Angoulême.
Cognac was an important trading port for salt and local wine distribution long before the discovery of the double distillation process that produced the famous drink however it is now synonymous with the eponymous spirit of course.
There is a local saying, all cognac is brandy but not all brandies are cognac. Cognac, termed “the liquor of the gods” by Victor Hugo, owes its character to the warm, humid climate in this part of Western France. Otard, Camus, Hennessy, Martell, Rémy- Martin, Meukow and Courvoisier can all be found here and each offers guided tours of their cellars and vineyards. The vineyards of Cognac constitute the 2nd largest area of production in France after Bordeaux and cover an area of 80,000 hectares. It would be heresy to leave Cognac without a visit to a cellar for a tasting!
BARON OTARD – The Royal Château of Cognac
127 boulevard Denfert Rochereau – 16100 Cognac
Overlooking the Charente river, the Chateau was initially a 10th-century fortress designed to stop Norman invasions, and then in the 15th century became a stately home which was the birthplace of one of France’s most illustrious kings, Francis I. Baron Otard, who had founded its Cognac House in 1795, quickly realised that the thick walls provided exceptional aging conditions for his eaux-de-vie. He purchases the Château, saving it from total destruction. The Royal Château of Cognac, which became a historic monument and a witness to French history.
They offer a variety of tours combining two aspects of history: the history of France and the history of Baron Otard cognac up to the present day.
21 rue de Cagouillet – 16100 Cognac
Master Blender workshop all year round – by appointment.
2 place du Château – 16200 Jarnac
Opening season: May to September/ from Tuesday to Saturday
Rue de la Richonne – 16100 Cognac
For over two centuries, Hennessy, the world’s leading cognac house, has enjoyed an enviable international standing from its base on the banks of the Charente. It offers visitors an innovative, rich learning experience that blends history and modernity. An invitation to discover the many facets of the brand.Open every day from July to October / Tuesday to Saturday from November to March
16 avenue Paul Firino Martell – 16100 Cognac
Founded by Jean Martell in 1715 under the reign of Louis XIV, it is now the oldest of the great cognac houses. Over the generations, this legendary House has sustained the time-honoured know-how of remarkable winemakers, distillers, coopers and cellar masters.Visits every day from April to October / Tuesday to Saturday from November to March.
26 rue Pascal Combeau – 16100 Cognac
Visits Monday to Saturday from May to September / Monday to Thursday from October to April.
20 rue de la Société Vinicole – 16100 Cognac
Visits all year round by reservation.