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Cognac is located about an hour and a half drive from Bordeaux and is one of the most interesting trips you can do in the SW of France. In this article, I will recommend the best distilleries to visit in Cognac (and the Cognac region). However, Cognac itself is also a beautiful little town, rich with history and unique architecture. If you have time to visit the city itself too, check out my article about the best things to do in Cognac.

the best things to do in Cognac
Visit Cognac

If you’re also interested in wine, you must dedicate some time to visiting wineries in the Bordeaux wine region. To help you do that, I have a detailed guide to the Bordeaux wine region, that will help you decide what chateaux you’d enjoy visiting. 

A big shout out, to Marie, a fabulous guide in the Cognac region that took me to several of these distilleries. If you’re staying in Bordeaux and don’t want to drive to Cognac I highly recommend taking her as a private guide. There’s also a great semi-private tour from Bordeaux to Cognac that’s offered by Olala company – see all the details here. Finally, if you’re looking for a special activity in Cognac, join this masterclass and taste several different Cognacs.

How Cognac is made – some basic info before your visit

The eau-de-vie created in the cognac process has been called the “nectar of the gods” by Victor Hugo.

Cognac is a brandy made from white grapes, and is crafted in the region of… Cognac. 98% of the grapes used for making cognac are Ugni Blanc grapes. In fact, like with French wine and champagne, there are laws that control exactly how cognac is distilled. During the distillation process, the spirit must be distilled twice using copper alembic stills. The region even requires the cognac makers to distill their spirits before April 1st every year. Talk about pressure. 

Then the cognac has to be matured in French oak barrels that are from Limousin or the Tronçais forests. Most cognacs have been mixed by a maître de chais. All of these rules ensure the quality of cognac, which has 63 different possible aromas. 

French cognac-makers separate cognac into different vintages, or “crus” in French, which reflect their quality. The most revered is the “Grande Champagne”, widely known for its fine taste and wide range of aromas. Some might say it’s the “champagne of cognacs.”

A map of the vintages of Cognac
A map of the vintages of Cognac

A cognac of the “Petite Champagne” vintage is also prestigious but is grown in soil with less of a limestone layer, and therefore less prestigious. The “Borderies” and “Fins Bois” are two more high-quality cognacs, each with a distinct flavor. Borderies has a violet aroma and Fins Bois has a fruity flavor. There’s a fifth vintage, but nobody talks about that one.

Now that we have that covered, let’s dive into the best distilleries to visit in Cognac. I’ll start with distilleries located in the center of Cognac City and continue to other villages in the larger Cogan region.

The best Distilleries to visit in Cognac City 

Cognac Camus – traveler’s favorite!

The Camus Distillery has been in the Camus family for five generations. They use a special distilling method dubbed the “intensity” process. It allows them to find the most aromatic parts of the second distillation. This gives their cognacs a very fruity aroma and makes them 7 times more aromatic than the competition. 

At the Camus distillery, there are tours offered in English with a tasting of their Horizontal Intense Classic cognac for 35 euros. You can also take a master class, during which you make your own cognac for 190 euros.

Where: 21 Rue Cagouillet, 16100 Cognac

Hennessy – the biggest Cognac house 

Anyone who’s listened to U.S. or British rap in the past 20 years has heard of Hennessy. Fortunately, the actual spirit has nothing to do with fur coats or oversized gold rings.

We took the Hennessy tour and had a fabulous time. The company’s boat took us to the other side of the river to visit the cellars. Then we learned all about the processes of creating this luxurious spirit, from the terroir to the maturing and assembling processes. At the end of the tour, you get to taste two different Cognacs and a Cognac-based liqueur (which to be honest, I loved the most).

Cognac tasting - Hennessy
Cognac tasting – Hennessy

The price of the tour is 20 euros per person, you can book it here. Tours run from an introduction to a detailed look at the XO spirit of Hennessy. 

Where: Quai Richard Hennessy, 16100 Cognac

Château Royal de Cognac 

This is arguably the most historical château on my list. It dates back to the 10th century and creates both the Baron Otard and Ussé cognacs. Because of its rich history, visitors receive tours that are based both on history and on the craft of cognac making. Built along the river and meant to prevent invaders from Normandy from infringing upon the city walls, the château casts an impressive shadow over the water.

Starting in the 15th century, the château served as a royal residence, and King Francois I of France was born there. The Château offers two different kinds of visits: 1) At the heart of d’Ussé, which is 35 euros per person, and 2) At the heart of the Château, starting at 18 euros per person.

Where: 127 Bd Denfert Rochereau, 16100 Cognac

Cognac MEUKOW

The Meukow estate is a family-owned cognac property. Although it was started in 1850, the last building was not bought until 2012. Symbolized by a black panther, the property is unique in that it is also home to a restaurant, where you can take culinary courses with cognac pairings. 

The château offers a tour with 3 cognac tastings, led by the cellar master of the property. Getting a tour from the cellar master herself is a rarity, but gems like this can be found on small properties like the Meukow estate.

Where: 7 Rue François Porche, 16100 Cognac

Martell – the oldest Cognac house

The Maison Martell has been producing cognac since 1715 and is known for its long history. It credits its 300 years of success to its founder, Jean Martell. At 21 years of age, he established the house and set its tone for innovation and reinvention. These aptitudes have allowed it to withstand the tests of time and modernity. As a grande maison de cognac, Maison Martell has a commitment to biodiversity. 

The property offers three tours in English – one each of its XO (35 euros) and VSOP (25 euros) cognacs, and one on cognac-making craftsmanship (60 euros).

Where: 7 place edouard Martell 16100 Cognac

Best distilleries to visit in the larger Cognac region – the small producers

Domaine Pasquet

If you’re interested in visiting a small family-owned producer in Cognac, Domaine Pasquet is the château for you!

You will be welcomed by the lovely Amy, who is married to one of the owners and is managing the business with him. This is the most welcoming and cozy experience you can get in a Cognac, which is dominated by huge domains. 

The estate produces organic cognac, a rarity, and is known for its ability to present a cozy experience while also being innovative with its product. Its commitment to producing small batches of cognac and to organic processes makes each bottle unique.
Domaine Pasquet offers a tour in English for 16 euros and includes a tasting.

Domaine Pasquet – by Lost in Bordeaux

Where: 27 Chez Ferchaud, 16120 Bellevigne, France France

Cognac Raby

Another great family-owned distillery to visit is Cognac Raby, located in the small village of Segonzac. The tours are free and run by the owner of the Cognac house, Cecile. The Raby family has owned the domain for 5 generations. The family did not start distilling until the 1970s, making Cecile a third-generation distiller. The family takes care of their land, and the estate has been certified as a High Environmental Value level 3.

Cognac Raby - a family owned Congac how you should visit
Cognac Raby – Lost in Bordeaux

The estate’s tours are one and a half hours long, and they are available in English. The estate’s shop on-site is open during general business hours without an appointment. 

Where: 3 bis La Brée, 16130 Segonzac

Bourgoin Cognac

If you’re traveling through Angouleme (the capital of the Charentes department), this is the distillery you should visit. 

The Bourgoin family thinks of its cognac as a winemaker’s cognac. Its website is reflective of the family’s irreverent sense of humor: “Receive the punch of the cognac like a gift. Whether the results are a light stupor or a razzle-dazzle, it promises not to leave you unscathed.” 

The Domaine appreciates the people who work the land, names them on its site, and has their photos in its tour advertisements. It offers tours in English for 30 euros. 

Where: 14 Rue du Puits, 16290 Saint-Saturnin

Here are other articles about amazing places in the Charentes you might like to discover when planning your trip to Cognac:

Where to eat at La Rochelle
What to do in Cognac
Discover the French capital of comics and street art – Angouleme
Aubeterre sur Dronne – the most beautiful village in Charente
The most beautiful villages in Ile de Ré

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via Lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

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*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 

I absolutely love street art and any city that makes the effort to complement its historic landscape with a modern expression of art is buying a fast ticket to my “go-to” list. That’s why Angoulême, which is located in the Charente department, about 1.5 hours drive from Bordeaux (or 35 minutes by train) has been on my mind for quite a while now. Angoulême is widely known as the comics and street art capital of France and is globally renowned for its Internation Comics festival hosting more than 200,000 people every year. Although I knew that I’m expected to see some beautiful murals in Angoulême, the creativity of this city took me by surprise the minute I entered the historic part of the city. Angoulême’s admiration for comics was expressed in every detail, from colorful post boxes to painted recycling bins and statues of famous comics characters. Visiting Angoulême is a little bit like playing treasure hunt for art lovers, there’s something to find on every street corner. 

Now, don’t get me wrong here, this is by far not the only reason to visit Angoulême. It’s a beautiful historic city, surrounded by ancient ramparts, abundant with elegant monuments, and generally a vivid place with an impressive number of bars and restaurants. My article about all the things you can do in Angouleme is in the making but in this article, I want to focus on what attracted me to this city, which is its street art. My goal is to make you experience this city as if we were in an open museum of comics and street art. Having said that, if you really love comics don’t miss la Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l’Image, the comics museums of Angoulême. 

Street art in Angouleme France

If it’s your first visit in this region, check out my guide to Bordeaux and my article about visiting Cognac. You can also get plenty of traveling tips in my Facebook group “Travel in the Southwest of France“.

The map of all my favorite murals and statues 

There are 25 huge murals painted on different buildings spread around Angoulême. If you can, pass by the tourist office (located in the Hotel de Ville), and grab a map indicating all of these murals. However, you should know that some of them are located quite far from the city center and require a long walk to get there. So if you are limited in time or just want to save your energy for the more interesting parts of the city, I made a map of my favorite murals and other street art that I really loved when strolling the city. In most of the locations on the map, I added the name of the work and the artist’s name and in some, I also added a photo and a link for more info about this work (in French). 

I should mention also that there’s an app that can help you navigate around the murals in the city. I didn’t try it myself, but if you want to give it a try, these are the links, Google Play, App Store.

My three favorite murals in Angoulême

I should start by saying that all the murals in Angouleme are stunning but there are several that I particularly loved and I think you should see.

La Fille des Remparts – Max Cabannes

This one is probably the most famous mural in Angouleme and one of the best spots for taking photos and selfies in the city 🙂
In this Mural, Max Cabann imitates the atmosphere of the old city with its ramparts and old buildings. It almost feels like a continuation of the street your standing on. You can find it just next to the market on 6 Boulevard Pasteur. 

Chassez le Naturel – François Boucq

This beautiful mural is located in a residential neighborhood slightly outside of the city center, but it’s so stunning it’s worth the walk. François Boucq is a French comics artist known for its books about Jérôme Moucherot, an insurance salesman, who is dressed in a leopard suit. The mural can be found at: Rue du Dr Duroselle above the parking entrance.

Chassez le Naturel - François Boucq - mural in Angouleme

L’Archiviste – François Schuiten

L’Archiviste by François Schuiten is one of the most special artworks on the streets of Angoulême – one million holes on a stainless steel plate over a huge building facade. The building is located on 24 Avenue Gambetta.

L'Archiviste - François Schuiten - street art angouleme

The Comics Festival

If you can choose when to visit Angouleme, the best time would be in January when the city hosts its famous Comics Festival. The Angoulême International Comics Festival is the third biggest comics festival in the world, hosting more than 200,000 visitors every year. 

Discover more art when strolling Angoulême 

The murals of Angoulême display the works of the most famous comics artists in France. However, street art and comics are such an important part of the modern identity of this city that the murals are only a fraction of the art you can find in Angoulême. I spent hours just walking and absorbing the colors, the cute characters painted on the shatters, and unusual statues in the garden below the ramparts. Here are some of my favorite discoveries from this beautiful city. I count on you to find many more when you visit fascinating Angoulême 🙂

Street art Angouleme
memoire du xxeme ciel - street art Angouleme

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

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Aubeterre sur Dronne is a small village located in the Charente department in the southwest of France. Aubeterre is labeled as one of France’s most beautiful villages and has a lot to offer, historic monuments, pretty houses, art galleries, and lively restaurants and coffee places. The town is located on the meeting point of the Charente, Gironde, and Dordogne departments which makes it a perfect day trip from many cities in the region such as Bordeaux, Cognac, Angouleme, Perigueux, Bergerac, or Saint Emilion. In this article, I’ll tell you why Auberette is worth traveling to and what you are expected to see in and around this beautiful village. 

Aubeterre sur Dronne was founded in the 13th century on one of the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela. Most of the village is built from a white stone typical to many cities and villages in the Charente department. The town feels a bit like an amphitheater with plenty of hanging galleries decorated with a lot of flowers and greenery. Auberrete is situated on the Dronne river and spreads over a hilltop and valley. The two levels are connected by pretty narrow streets with beautiful houses and breathtaking viewpoints on the valley. The town has several interesting monuments, with the most important being the underground church, Eglise souterrain Saint-Jean. 

Eglise souterrain Saint-Jean - Aubeterre sur Dronne
Eglise souterrain Saint-Jean – by Lost in Bordeaux

If you need more information about traveling in these regions or any other part of the southwest join my group “Travel in the southwest of France” on Facebook. You can find plenty of other ideas for day trips from Bordeaux in my article about the best day trips from Bordeaux.

What to see in Aubeterre sur Dronne 

While Aubeterre is quite a small village there are a lot of nice streets and places you should not miss on your day trip there. Start your tour of the village on Place Ludovic Trarieux, named after the influential French politician,  Ludovic Trarieux, who was born there in 1840. Trarieux was the founder of the Ligue Francaise pour la défense des droits de l’homme (The Human Rights League of France). This is the liveliest spot in town with several coffee places, restaurants, and boutiques located around the square. For a light lunch, Crêperie de la Source is a cute little restaurant with an amazing view. From here continue to the Eglise souterrain Saint-Jean, the most famous monument in the town. 

If there’s one thing that should not be missed in Aubeterre sur Dronne it’s the remarkable monolithic church. The Saint-Jean underground church was carved from one cliff during the 7th century and was considerably enlarged during the 12th century by a community of Benedictine monks. It has a unique form and measures 20 meters high from the interior. The church has a relic pit, a necropolis with 160 stone coffins, and 18 meters high galleries all carved from the same stone. You can visit the site daily throughout the year – see the details here

Eglise souterrain Saint-Jean - Aubeterre sur Dronne
Eglise souterrain Saint-Jean by Lost in Bordeaux

 From the church start descending to the lower part on the charming Rue Barbichon with its pretty view on the valley. For here turn right to Rue Barbecane where you’ll arrive at Place Merkes Merval, an old washing place. This is a beautiful spot where you can admire the many hanging balconies of Aubeterre. Continue up the street to the main square. If you’re interested in art, don’t miss Espace Ludovic Trarieux on your right as well as Antiquités du Tourniquet, a beautiful antique shop on your left. 

Place Merkes Merval - Aubeterre sur Dronne
Place Merkes Merval – by Lost in Bordeaux

From here you can start discovering the western part of the village with its steep and beautiful streets and several historic houses. Don’t miss the Saint Jaques church, a collegiate that was demolished in the 16th century during the wars of Religions. Its remarkable facade is the only original part left from the church that was later rebuilt in the 18th century. Its facade is a real piece of art with arches and sculpted capitals. 

eglise saint-jacques aubeterre sur dronne
Eglise Saint-Jacques – by lost in Bordeaux

Go to the beach 

If you’re visiting on a hot day, you can finish your day trip on the Aubeterre beach! To get to the beach, pass the bridge to cross the river and turn right. The facilities on the beach include toilets, showers, a kids’ play area, and a restaurant. The beach is located at the Camping base de loisirs d’aubeterre sur dronne that also offers many water activities like kayaking and SUPs. See more details here

What to see around Aubeterre sur Dronne

Aubeterre sur Dronne is a great base to discover other parts of the Southwest of France. Here’s the list of the best places to visit around Aubeterre-sur-Dronne:

Angouleme – the capital of the Charente department is located about 50km north to Aubeterre and is totally worth the visit when in the region. Apart from its beautiful architecture, the city is known as the French capital of street art with tens of murals spread all over the city. Read my article about how to discover the street art scene in Angouleme before heading there. 

memoire du xxeme ciel - street art Angouleme

Cognac – the most famous town in this region is Cognac, obviously thanks to the world-renowned spirit produced there. Cognac is located a bit farther north, about 70 km from Aubeterre but it’s a very interesting place to visit, especially if you want to see how Cognac is made. Read all the details in my article about Cognac.

Villebois-Lavalette – much closer to Aubeterre you can find Chateau de Villebois-Lavalette, a thousand-year-old castle that went through a massive restoration project and can now be visited. The chateau is located in a nice little town (Villebois-Lavalette) with a great covered market.

Riberac – Also very close to Auberette you can find the charming town of Riberac which is located in the Dordogne department. The town that shares the same river with Aubeterre is known for its excellent weekly market every Friday morning. 

Where to stay in Aubeterre sur Dronne 

If you’re planning to go to this region for a few days there are plenty of hotels and guest houses around the town. If you want to stay in the village itself the Grange Bleuet is a recommended place.  See more hotels in Aubeterre sur Dronne here

Where to park in  Aubeterre sur Dronne 

There are two big free parking spaces in Aubeterre sur Dronne. The central one is located just in front of the tourist office on Place du Champ de Foire. If there’s no space there, you can go higher to the northern parking lot next to Chemin du Cimetière. 

If you’re looking for more ideas for day trips in the Bordeaux region here are a few other articles you might want to read:
The best beaches around Bordeaux
Day trips around Bordeaux – wine, beaches and villages 
10 day trips from Bordeaux by Public transport
A weekend in Medoc – Bordeaux wine tours
What to do and eat in Saint Emilion

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

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