Guided tour of the highlights in Cognac old town

Photo of Cognac old town

The following is a photo guide to some of the main highlights you will discover as you explore the old town in Cognac, with its varied architecture and historical monuments.

The old town is entered by the Porte Sainte-Jacques, on the banks of the Charente river near the bridge across the river. This section of river is known as the Quai Richard Hennessy and the Quai Maurice Hennessy.

Cognac Porte Saint-Jacques


The medieval town of Cognac was defended by a substantial defensive wall which included three imposing gateways. Two of these, the Porte Saint-Martin and the Porte Angoumoisine, were destroyed in the 19th century but the Porte Saint-Saint-Jacques remains.

This gateway was principally to control traffic across the bridge and to defend Cognac fom attack from that direction.

Chateau de Cognac


Passing through the gate you enter the cobbled streets of the old town and walk up towards the castle. The main feature you see is the corner tower and a small fountain.


The castle dates from the 12th century but has been substantially altered, demolished and renovated over the last 800 years and little remains of the original medieval castle of Cognac. The current castle is largely owned and used by distilleries.

Cognac Rue Grande


Continue up the hill along the Rue Grande, where there are numerous buildings that are typical of the regional style. The Rue Grande has been one of the most important roads in Cognac across the centuries because it connects the castle and the Church of Saint-Leger. Most of the houses are two storey buildings in white stone, but you will also see some half-timbered buildings. Originally these buildings were almost all shops, but they were converted to houses in the 18th century.

Cognac Maison de la Lieutenance


One of the most attractive houses on Rue Grande, just where it joins Rue du Canton, is the medieval Maison de la Lieutenance. The house dates from the 15th century although it was substantially modified in the early 17th centuy by Pierre Lacombe, owner of the house and Lieutenant-General of Cognac at that time. Take the time to look closely at the carved woodwork on the house which incorporates many decorative features and carvings.

Cognac Church of Saint Leger


Interior of Church of Saint Leger


The Church of Saint-Leger is among the most important buildings in Cognac. The front of the church dates from the 12th century and incorporates several romanesque architectural elements such as the ornate carving around the main doorway and the capital stones inside the church. The main body of the church is more recent, dating principally from the 14th and 15th centuries, and the large rose window in the facade was also added at this time.

There are various interesting articles to see inside the church and you can also access the cloisters just to the right of the Church of Saint-Leger.

Cognac Rue Saulnier


Hotel Perrin de Boussac in Cognac


Hotel Brunet de Bocage in Cognac


Descending back towards the Charente river you reach Rue Saulnier. On this street there are several of the most important townhouses in Cognac - the wealth of the owners was often represented by ornate stonework around the doors and windows and can be seen for example in several houses on the left towards the bottom of the Rue Saulnier, such as the renaissance style facade of the Hotel Perrin de Boussac, the ornate carvings around the doorway of the Hotel Brunet de Bocage and also the Hotel Martell.

Hennessy Distillery in Cognac


Roullet-Fransac distillery in Cognac


Baron-Otard distillery


Now back at the Charente river, as you walk along the quais you have the peaceful river to your left and the showrooms of the important Cognac distilleries such as Hennessy to your right.

See also the main Cognac guide for other highlights throughout the town...