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Cognac Country

TOURING AND TASTING ON THE CHARENTE RIVER

Cognac’s old town stretches out alongside the peaceful Charente River. Mediaeval buildings, narrow cobbled streets and its castle make for a picture book setting at the foot of the vineyards that have made Cognac famous. And here’s a plus: next to the Cote d’Azure, the area has the second most days of sunshine in France.

Hennessy, Camus, Remy -Martin are just some of the famous firms that have their headquarters here. They all offer tours and a fascinating introduction to the art of producing one of the world’s favourite drinks.

How to choose?  Visit the one whose brandy you like best, because tastings are on the menu. In some cases the price of the tour reflects how many tastings you choose to have. Other considerations: a tour of the Hennessy distillery includes a boat ride across the river to the factory’s museum on the other shore while the Remy Martin tour transports you by miniature railway through its cellars.

Before you take any tour, though, check out the prices of cognac in the neighbourhood shops. When you get the chance to buy at the end of the tour you will know in advance whether or not same bottle costs less locally. It can happen.

And if you wonder about the salamanders carved on doors, pillars, etc., they are the symbol of King Francois I. He was born in the town’s castle in 1494. As king, he granted the town the right to transport salt on the river; this was the first step in Cognac’s prosperity and it’s never looked back.

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