Travel Postcard: 48 hours in and around Cognac, France | Reuters
Once the alarums of battle had faded, he shipped a few barrels of the local tipple home. The rest is history and the Cognac house still bearing the Hennessy name is a world leader.
For visitors to the region, discovering the secrets of its famous double-distilled spirit aged in oak casks is essential to the Cognac experience, but there are other charms.
Following are some tips from a correspondent with local knowledge.
From Paris, Cognac is a roughly three-hour train journey via Angouleme, around 20 miles from Cognac. You might want to hire a car either from Angouleme, to cut out the slow-train section, or on arrival in Cognac.
From Cognac station, it’s a brisk walk or a short drive to the old town centre.
10:30 a.m. – Drop off your bags and restore yourself with a coffee and perhaps a “pain au chocolate”, known as a “chocolatine” in the Cognacais strain of French.
The Cognacais themselves are affectionately nicknamed cagouillards after the juicy snails that patrol the vineyards.
The main square Place Francois I, named after the French Renaissance king born in Cognac, has a cluster of cafes. It also houses the grand, newly restored Hotel Francois I and a statue of the mighty monarch on horseback.
11 a.m. – Walk down the cobbled streets to the sleepy Charente, the river once used to ship Cognac. Some of the main cognac houses, Hennessy included, line the banks.
Take your pick of which one or ones you would like to visit.
Hennessy has a state-of-the-art visitor centre and throws in a short boat trip, Remy Martin offers a train ride and Otard is housed in the chateau, where Francois I was born at the end of the 15th-century.
All give seductive accounts of the rich history and romance woven around one of France’s most prized products.
France’s luxury conglomerates now dominate ownership, but generations after they were founded, members of the original families still work in the cognac houses and are proud, aristocratic ambassadors of their brands.
Strange Random Cognac Quote:
“The great thing about making cognac is that it teaches you above everything else to wait-man proposes, but time and God and the seasons have got to be on your side.” – Jean Monnet
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