Towards Cognac

Several paths lead to Cognac. The low road follows the Charente. Sometimes the river is within touching distance, sometimes the meanders take it farther away as shown by the line of trees along its banks. There is also the long way up the steep-sided valley of the Coran. The path leads through lush wooded valleys up to the plateau covered with vines and copses. Even the streets are very steep, like La Chapelle des Pots, a potters’ village for eight centuries, and Saint-Sauvant, an authentic preserved site. Man has been passing through this valley since prehistoric times. At Saint-Césaire, on the very spot where a 36,000 year-old skeleton was discovered, the Paléosite, the most modern prehistory centre, takes you, in a fun and interactive way, in the footsteps of Neandertal and Sapiens.
The Paleosite of Saint Cesaire

The Paleosite of Saint Cesaire

Fontdouce Abbey

The Abbaye de Fontdouce

The Abbaye de Fontdouce, founded in 1111, is more peaceful. It lies at the end of a beautiful avenue, set alone by a babbling stream at the bottom of a valley, surrounded by rows of vines and spinneys. Following a long period of restoration, we can admire the superimposed Romanesque chapels, the superb Gothic chapter room and the monks’ hall which has recently been exposed. This region marks the boundary between two cognac appellations, Fins Bois and Borderies.
To find out more about the subject, visitors can learn how to read and understand the landscape by visiting the vineyard of Bernard Bégaud at Villars-les-Bois. At Macqueville, the Cep Enchanté offers an opportunity to have fun while exploring the farm with a maze and swingolf amidst the vines and truffle oaks. * There are producers of pineau and cognac in all the regions of Saintonge but it is certainly in Cognac that the economic stakes of this production and the power of the great cognac houses can best be measured. Installed in imposing buildings by the river Charente, near the quays where the gabarres or barges were once loaded, they sometimes form a town within the town due to the large number of workers they employ.
Cognac vineyard

Begaud vineyard

Ecomuseum of Cognac

Ecomuseum of Cognac

Visiting these institutions, along with the very fine Musée des Arts du Cognac, enlightens anyone who is interested in cognac. It is an opportunity to learn about the grape varieties, the secrets of distillation, ageing and blending. It relates the history of cognac, how it set out to conquer the world, the chance discovery of pineau and the poetic angels’ share that evaporates from the oak casks. The arts and aromas of cognac are revealed in the Cognac ecomuseum at Migron. It is a special place to discover the alliances of Pineau des Charentes or Old Cognacs with chocolate, coffee and cigars.