Visit Cognac (Poitou-Charentes, France)
Cognac is situated in the Charente department, between Angouleme and Saintes. The name of Cognac is of course known the world over for the brandy produced in the region, and it is that that attracts many of the visitors, but the town of the same name is also worthy of your attention in between your tasting sessions.
The town owes its original wealth and success to King Francois I who granted the town a licence to trade in salt.
Cognac 'old town' - the medieval part of the town - is a region of narrow cobbled streets, hemmed in by attractive houses from the 15th to 18th centuries, and a multitude of brandy maturing warehouses. The older houses are half-timbered, while the more recent are in the local white stone. The salamander that you can see carved on many of the houses is the symbol of King Francois I.
Your visit will focus around the Chateau and river a little south of the 'old gateway', and in to the old town around Rue Grande, Rue Saulnier and Rue Magdeleine.
Next to the Charente river (where a bridge once stood) two more important buildings can be seen - the Château des Valois (often now referred to as Cognac Chateau) and the two towers that stand either side of an original gateway into the town at the Porte of Saint-Jacques. While the part of the castle facing the river is perhaps rather plain, the other side features a medieval tower and is rather more interesting.
The old town in Cognac is roughly defined by the two main churches. The Church of Saint-Leger, with a substantial square tower, is the larger of the two. The church was built and modified over the course of several hundred years from the 12th century onwards which explains the mix of architectural styles that you will see. The facade is essentially in the original roman style and features a large rose window above an ornately carved entrance.
The Public Gardens
The public gardens in Cognac occupy an extensive area (several hectares) in the centre of the town with extensive plantings, a rose garden, water features, trees and flower borders, the overall garden plan following the 'English style'.
The gardens also contain several interesting buildings, among them the Town Hall, the grand 19th century building with a large staircase in front and a substantial campanile, and the Museum of Art and history. There are also several small buildings of interest in the park in a mix of styles, such as the little 'gothic tower' in the middle of a pond, a neoclassical orangery and a victorian style bandstand.
Museums in Cognac
The Museum of Art and History, in an attractive 19th century building in the public gardens, has sections dedicated to archaeological finds in the region, ceramics and paintings. the highlight is the remains of an early 'dug-out canoe' from the neolithic era.
The Museum of the Arts of Cognac will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about making and marketing the famous local version of brandy. Cognac enthiusiasts will also want to visit the Saint Gobain glassworks, which you can visit to see where the bottles are made to contain all that Cognac.
Other activities in Cognac
Popular activities with visitors to Cognac include taking a walk in the woods in the Francois I Parc or hiring a canoe for a trip along the river. You can also take an organised boat trip along the Charente in a traditional boat known as a gabarre.
Photos taken within 10 km
Address: Cognac, Charente, Poitou-Charentes, 16100 || GPS: latitude 45.693, longitude -0.324
Map of Cognac & places nearby
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Cognac, France
- Abbaye Notre Dame de l'Assomption de Châtre (Saint-Brice) - religious monument (5km)
- Eglise de Saint Martin (Gensac-la-Pallue) - religious monument (7km)
- Eglise de Saint-Germain (Gimeux) - religious monument (7km)
- Abbaye de Fontdouce (Saint-Bris-des-Bois) - religious monument (14km)
- Eglise de Saint Pierre et eglise de Saint Hérie (Matha) - religious monument (19km)
- Jardin du Chaigne - remarkable garden (21km)
- Eglise de Saint Vivien (Bagnizeau) - religious monument (22km)
- Pons ancien hopital des pèlerins (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (22km)
- Abbaye aux Dames de Saintes (Saintes) - religious monument (24km)
- Saintes - town of art and history (25km)
Market days in Cognac: Regular market(s) are held in Cognac each Tuesday & Friday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Cognac (Francais)