Gites de France - Holidays in Cognac country


The town of Cognac has long been associated throughout the world with this finest of French spirits, but long before the invention of the double-distillation method that gave rise to the famous drink, the town made its name as a port, vital for the salt trade from France's Atlantic coast and locally-produced wines.

Visitors to the region will be suitably impressed by the wealth of activities, both connected and separate to the production of Cognac. Indulge in a guided tour of Hennessy, the world famous cognac house, pay a visit to the intriguing Musèe des Arts du Cognac or discover a wealth of knowledge on the surrounding area at the nearby Cognac Country Discovery Centre.

With many dedicated circular trails to follow the area around the town of Cognac is ideal for short, easy to manage cycling tours. Visitors are invited to perhaps drop into the one of many local family-run traditional distilleries on the route for a true taste of the region.

A world away from the sedate charms of a cycling holiday, is the annual Circuit des Ramparts, which is held in the third weekend of September. Dating back to 1939, this weekend-long series of events features classic and prestige cars racing at speed through the ancient tightly-twisting roads of this picturesque walled town. Certainly an event not to be missed by car enthusiasts everywhere.

Sightseers are strongly advised to visit the Abbey of Saint-Savin. This Romanesque church, which dates back to the mid 11th century, is renowned for its beautifully preserved 11th and 12th century murals and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.

Leaving the troubles of the world behind, why not take to the water in France's very own 'green Venice'. Reclaimed from the sea more than a millennium ago, the lazy waterways of the Marais Poitevin provide a lush green landscape, to be enjoyed at leisure from one of many flat-bottomed boats available for hire in the region. Particularly beautiful are villiages of Coulon and Arçais, nestling against the bank side.

No gites de France holiday to the Poitou-Charentes region would be complete without a visit to the historic port of La Rochelle, with the famous twin towers that have guarded the inner harbour since the 14th century.

The larger tower, Tour St Nicholas, features a high platform, affording stunning views over the town, while at the base of the opposite Tour de la Chaîne the chain that was historically used to close the harbour each night and from which the tower gets its name, can still be clearly seen.