The town of Cognac

Quay at Cognac

The town of Cognac in the depths of vineyard.

The brandy known as cognacis synonymous with the town that was the birthplace of King François I - Cognac, which lies at the centre of the themed trails and vineyard sightseeing that make up the Etapes du Cognac.

Statue François 1er

   Key entry to the “Etapes du cognac”, a visit to the town serves as an initiation ceremony to the world of Cognac. The Office de Tourisme has created a discovery trail through the historic old quarters, of which the Chateau of Francis I is the jewel.
   As you go through the cobbled streets leading down to the Charente, try to spot the old workshop signs or the carved fronts of the town houses, for example, the house or a woolcarder in the Rue du Palais; the Bacchus sculpted on the waterspout of a grand house in Rue Magdeleine; a 15th century tavern in the Rue Traversière.

Porte ancien échevinage

   Cognac has been linked to the cultivation of the vine since the Middle Ages and to trading in wine since the 12th century. A river town bathed by the Charente, Cognac sent wines, by sea, from ancient vineyards of Poitou as far as Holland and the Scandinavian countries.
   During the 17th century however the trade in wine took a new turn. Distillation, in eliminating the water in the wine, reduced its volume. The subsequent prosperity of cognac opened up for the town new links with the entire world.
   Cognac hides its wealth behind the walls of its wine and spirit storehouses, the stones of which have become black through the growth of a mushroom which thrives on the vapour of alcohol. In the old town which nestles against the mediaeval chateau, twisting alleyways alongside old houses go down to the quays. In Cognac the stones breathe…Cognac.


Steam machines


   What was the purpose of those strange machines which are now on display in the museum of Cognac?

   These steam machines bear witness to more than a century of glassmaking in this city of eaux-de-vie. Claude Boucher, master glassworker, invented the first model in 1898 in order to adapt the production of bottles to the rapidly expanding commerce in wines and spirits.

   The most prestigious of the commercial houses based in this city of eaux-de-vie offer you the opportunity of visits and a little tasting.

  Camus: a human dimension to a famous family name.
  Hennessy: a ferryboat which links the two banks of the river.
  Martell: the historic river sailing barge.
  Otard: the royal heritage of the chateau of Cognac.
  Remy Martin: the miniature train which takes you through the vineyards.


      • The Bonnes Chauffes of the private distillers in December.
      • The Fête du Cognac, organised by the young farmers around the theme of cognac in July.
      • The Open Days for the Pineau des Charentes during a weekend in August.
      • Evening walks (Noctambulations) in the floodlit streets each Thursday in July and August.

      ... Seasonal festivals

        • The Festival of police films in the spring.
        • Blues Passions, the afro-jazz festival in summer.
        • Coup de Chauffe, the street arts festival at the beginning of autumn.
        • The Salon of European Literature at the beginning of winter.


        © Etapes du cognac
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