Don't Simply Drink Cognac — Go To The French City It Comes From

Cognac isn’t just an after-dinner drink — it’s a vacation spot.

For a bucolic aspect of France, do this city as your subsequent getaway.

A few three-hour prepare journey from Paris, Cognac is a simple aspect journey from France’s bustling capital — and value a number of days spent exploring the world.

Situated on the nation’s western coast, simply north of Bordeaux, it’s a fantastic location to get pleasure from wine, seafood, and naturally, the city’s namesake brandy, Cognac.

The distilled spirit comprised of grapes is aged in barrels for a number of years, typically even many years. You may go to the spots the place these brandies are made, and every has a novel story and setting, from former castles to riverfront warehouses. Like Champagne, brandy needs to be made particularly area to have the ability to be referred to as Cognac.

Fortunate for guests, the city is pedestrian pleasant. Begin your day by strolling via the curving cobblestone streets of outdated city. Hunt down the Public Backyard, an English-style backyard with fountains and wood footbridges on a big swath of property that joins the City Corridor and the Museum of Artwork and Historical past.

Should you stroll to the intersection of Rue Aristide Briand and Angoulême, two primary pedestrian streets, you’ll see Saint-Léger Church, a former Benedictine priory. Building on the church started within the 1100s, and continued for a number of hundred years, so it incorporates each Romanesque and Gothic structure, and spectacular stained-glass home windows.

If it’s a pleasant day, cease by the Marche Couvert, a farmer’s market at Place D’Armes; or Le Gourmand Charentais, a connoisseur store with native merchandise, to seize meals for a picnic lunch. For dessert, purchase some candies made with Cognac from Chocolaterie Letuffe (chocolaterie-letuffe.fr) earlier than testing a number of the brandy homes.

A superb one to begin with is Chateau de Cognac (chateauroyaldecognac.com), a fortress constructed throughout the 10th century and the birthplace of King Francois I in 1494. It was bought within the late 1700s for use as a cellar, so the tour is a combination of a French historical past lesson and a primer in cognac manufacturing. To realize completely different finishes, a number of the brandy right here is aged oak barrels in dry cellars to get a spicier style, whereas different barrels are saved behind thick fortress partitions in and moist and humid circumstances from the Charente river, and develop nutty, mushroom flavors. There are additionally hidden storage rooms beneath the fortress. The Chateau produces Otard, standard in Europe, and likewise D’Ussé, a model that’s partly-owned by Jay-Z and bought within the U.S. Excursions of the Chateau begin at about $13.

A five-minute stroll from the Chateau is Hennessy, the biggest Cognac producer. The tour right here begins with a fast boat journey alongside the Charente river to the barrel warehouses, the place high-tech multimedia shows clarify how the spirit is made. Excursions and tastings (lesvisites.hennessy.com) begin at about $21.

For dinner, take a 10-minute stroll throughout the Charente river by way of a bridge and head to Poulpette. The menu at this small, modern spot adjustments each day (about $30 for 3 programs) primarily based on what’s seasonal.

For an after-dinner drink, stroll three blocks to Bar Luciole (bar-luciole.com), a brand new addition. The economic-yet-cozy house has artistic cocktails like a walnut bitter, and a buttered Kir Royale, with liqueur and champagne (each $10).

On one other day, take a scenic drive via rolling vineyards to Jarnac, a commune about 15 minutes east of Cognac. Chateau de Courvoisier (courvoisier.com, excursions and tastings begin at $14), is an 1800s riverside mansion that homes Courvoisier’s headquarters, in addition to a museum that’s a must-see for Napoleon buffs — he favored the model earlier than it even moved from Cognac to Jarnac and made positive his artillery firms had a ration of it throughout the Napoleonic Wars. The museum has a number of Napoleon artifacts on show, together with a trench coat and a few of his iconic hats.

After the tour, drive one other 10 minutes east to L’Essille Resort Restaurant (hotel-restaurant-essille.com) for a three-course lunch in a sun-filled room for $23. A fast stroll away is the Bassac Abbey (abbaye-de-bassac.fr), a 1,000-year-old abbey with gardens.

After, head again to Cognac and calm down at one of many outside cafes that line the principle roundabout on the town, or store at close by shops, just like the candy-focused Jeff De Bruges (jeff-de-bruges.com), or Ambre Idea Retailer (ambreconceptstore.com), which has residence décor gadgets and presents.

To cap off your journey with a standard French dinner, head to La Maison (restaurant-lamaison-cognac.fr), which serves a altering menu of the nation’s classics like pork with mustard sauce and swordfish cooked with olive and lemon.

Should you go…

Getting there: Fly into Paris. From the Paris Montparnasse prepare station, the journey to Cognac takes about three hours with one prepare change. Should you’re renting a automobile, contemplate taking the prepare on to Angoulême, a commune close by, which doesn’t require a prepare change. Prepare fares begin at about $18.

Getting round: Cognac is walkable, however if you wish to discover the countryside close by, you’ll have to lease a automobile.

Keep: Hôtel François Premier (hotelfrancoispremier.fr) is positioned on the principle roundabout in Cognac. Bar Louise on website is an efficient spot for a drink. Charges begin at about $170 an evening.

E book forward: Schedules at Cognac homes can range, so it’s necessary to name forward or reserve on-line.