Between Jarnac and Gondeville, the Charente river divides into two branches, forming an island which is called “Ile du Parc”. It’s called like this as here was the park of the castle.
Actually there are two islands, a very large one and a smaller one. On that smaller one, there’s a garden next to the lock with flowers and old trees. It’s a nice place to relax, with several benches. There are also several walking paths on the island and we enjoyed we especially enjoyed walking the small paths next to the water.
Courvoisier offers guided tours including Cognac tasting and I highly recommend it. There are different tours depending on which Cognac you want to taste, so the price for the visit varies from 9€ (tasting of the VSOP) to 35€ (tasting of three different Cognacs). We had a tour in English as the person who speaks German wasn’t there that day, and it was just the 5 of us. It started in an exhibition where we learnt how Cognac is made and that Courvoisir used to deliver Cognac to Napoleon Bonaparte. So you here also find some exhibition objects from Napoleon. And it’s him that you find on the logo.
You also could see how the colour of Cognac is changing of the years, and you even could smell it. We then went into the warehouse with all the casks. Here, we could see a 3D film (in English), which rather was an advertisement film, but well done. Afterwards, we went into another room where we saw the film “Le Nez de Courvoisier”, in English as well, which talks about the different key aromas. It’s a “sensorial cinema” where you could smell the 3 aromas of iris flower, Crème Brûlée and candied orange. This was really interesting! Next came the tasting and though I like the smell of Cognac, I don’t like drinking it. But I could get it mixed with ginger ale and ice which is a common cocktail, and that was very good. Of course I had the VSOP, it wouldn’t make sense to do this with a high quality Cognac!
In Jarnac, you’ll find the boat rental company Le Boat where you can rent houseboats. There’s a long quay to dock boats, and near the lock there’s also a landing place. Just make sure you don’t use the ones directly at the lock!
From Jarnac, you can either go upstream up to Angoulême, or downstream to Rochefort at the coast. Note that the locks are to be operated manually, and In direction Angoulême, you will find many locks!
In Jarnac, you also can take a short boat trip on the “Chabot” (found under the bridge next to Courvoisier), or hire canoes/ kayaks.