When in Cognac you can do a tour of the Hennessy Cognac factory.
It starts with a boat ride, then traces the history of Hennessy Cognac. You see some of the machinery used in production and best of all, it ends with a cognac tasting in their fancy bar.
The smaller Cognac bottler is where to go to get a hands-on, up close, and personal look into the making of Cognac. If you walk or drive around the town of Cognac, you will find a small bottler. They are like Starbucks, one on every corner. Some even have rooms to rent out , right on the property. A true learning experience right from the owners. They make you feel like family. The cognac's nothing to sneeze at, either. The nose,knows.
Otard, Hennesy, Remy Martin , ...........
for now only 2 visits the 1 and 2nd , very good (for now i prefer Otard, cause of the castle of francois the first and the historic museuem inside)
This region is so full of hospitality and many of it's cognac houses offers tour and tastings of their finest.
Personally I love visiting the ordinary farmer and see the production from start to end, but this requires an appointment ahead. However Remy Martin and Hennessy Cognac are taking visitors as they come.
My advice is: first you have to find a favoruite cognac or one you'd like to know more about. Then contact this house and ask if it's possible to team up for a tour on the property. Usually the farmer will show you the vineyard, the destillery, the warehouse where the barrells are aging and finally give you some samples. I know what my favourite brands are. Find yours! I'm going to Cognac every second year with some buddies. We are a small group of four or five. You can see photos and videos from our "study-trips" on www.ccclub.info
Here we are arriving at the distillery, full of enthusiasm.
Cognac looks a very dirty place, in fact it's mould! yup, it's a fungus that permeates everything including the barrels containing the cognac. The story goes that once upon a time the villagers scrubbed it all off the walls but the cognac wasn't so good so they had to let it grow back. In the Otard distillary you can visit great rooms used to contain prisoners of war, look out for their names carved into the stone walls.Don't worry if this all sounds a bit gloomy, down by the river and all around the village the scenery is wonderful and it's all so close to the town centre too.
When in Cognac, you need of course visit a Cognac distillery. There are several in the town that offer guided tours, and Hennessy is one where you don’t need a reservation upfront. We had an English guided tour as we didn’t want to wait for the German tour later the day. You pay depending on what type of Cognac you want to taste afterwards, the lowest admission is 9€ and this was what we took. First, a boat takes you on the other side of the Charente river, where you will first visit an exhibition about the Cognac production. You got good information on how this is done and what is needed, I only didn’t like the film that was showing many different photos on various screens so that you didn’t know where to look, pretty confusing. And not really meaningful. But sitting on Cognac boxes was funny! We also visited a warehouse where they store rather young Cognac, but also really old one. The smell there was great! And last but not least came the tasting, back on the other side of the river. If you don’t drink alcohol, you also could get juice.
It was an interesting and informative visit, but I’m glad that we also visited Courvoisier in Jarnac, which was less touristy and very nice!
The castle of Cognac exists since the 10th century but was rebuilt several times. It’s also called “Château des Valois”, after Jean de Valois who did rebuild the abandoned castle in 1450. The decline started in the 17th century and in the late 18th century, the castle became national property. It was sold to Otard and Dupuis, who used it as Cognac warehouse and saved it from destruction.
In front of the castle you find a former stone fountain. It’s called “fontaine Francois Ier” and was rebuilt in the 17th century. When I first saw it I was wondering what this is, but then I saw some elements that look like flowing water. A sign in French & English nearby gives you more information on the castle & fountain.
In the street Rue Grande, you will find some half-timbered houses. In medieval times, this street used to be the main street of the town. One of the half-timbered houses that you will find here is the House of the Lieutenant, where the lieutenant-general Pierre Lacombe was living from 1603 to 1624. The house was reconstructed during that time, although the sculptures on the wooden posts probably are from earlier.
The Roman church Saint-Léger (i.e. Saint Leodegar of Poitiers) was built in in 1130. Its facade is typical for the Roman churches in that region, and is the oldest part of the church. The gothic rose window was added in the 15th century. After seeing that threepart portal, you would expect to see 3 naves, but there’s only one. There had been several modifications over the time, so inside you find a mixture of various styles. It’s a really interesting and nice church, and in case you are interested in its history you find an information plate in the church in French, English and even German.
Cognac lies at the Charente river, and there already was a port in early medieval times. Mainly there was salt trade, and later also wine and Cognac were shipped. The time those goods are transported via boat are over, so today you find many pleasure boats in the harbour. It’s also home of the company Les canalous which rents housesboats.
Also you can take a trip on a gabarre, i.e. a barge replica.
There’s a market hall near the church which was completed in 1871 and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8 to 13. You here find all kind of vegetables, fruits, lots of cheese and butcher products. It was interesting to stroll over that market. As French seem to love bowels much more than we do, I saw several products that I rarely see at a German butcher – but I’m not sure if I’d really like to eat these things!
The “Place Francois I” is named after Francis I, king of France. He was born in the town's castle in 1494. At the centre of the square, you find a state of the king on horseback. The statue was built in Paris and transported to Cognac by sea and river, and then was inaugurated in Cognac 1864.
At the square, you also find the old “Hôtel de Londres” with its nice facade. It was built between 1861 and 1870, today you here find the Hotel Francois Premier. There also used to be a town gate, called Porte Angoumoisine, but unfortunately it was destroyed in the 19th century. From the three earlier gates only the western gate, the Port Saint-Jacques, is left.
The town gate Saint-Jacques is part of the rampart that surrounded the town and was built in the early 13th century. The rampart had three gates, the porte Saint-Martin to the south, the port Angoumoisine to the east and the porte Saint-Jacques to the west. All except for the porte Saint-Jacques were destroyed. The gate is an impressive building with its “thick” towers. There also used to be a medieval bridge over the Charente, connecting the town with the Saint-Jacques quarter.
just before the visit
cognac story and history