Visit France’s Cognac Country

Take a pointer from the French on living simple and elegant lifestyles.

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Culture

Papermakers and bookbinders breathe new life into Montmorillon, the “City of Books.” Artisans demonstrate illuminated manuscripts, calligraphy, and ink-making.

Sweet dreams: Sleep in a charming country inn, Relais du Lyon d’Or, in the nearby village of Angles-sur-l'Anglin.

Outdoors

Pole a flat-bottomed boat through the tree-canopied canals in the Marais Poitevin, nicknamed France’s “Green Venice” for its abundance of duckweed.

Home base: Lodge in Coulon, but venture thirty kilometers east to the 6,000-year-old stone-age burial mounds in Bougon.

Architecture

The town of Parthenay attracts fans of half-timbered structures. The town’s walled medieval quarter contains 150 tenth-and eleventh-century timbered shops. Sleep like royalty: Book a room nearby at the stately seventeenth-century Chteau de Saint-Loup.

Health

Le Richelieu Thalassotherapy Center, on the sunny Atlantic Isle of Ré, offers natural sea-water spa treatments including salt scrubs, salt-water baths, and algae wraps.

Gourmand’s delight: Oceanside dining at the Richelieu restaurant (one Michelin star).

Local specialties

Cognac’s famous brandy cellars have been darkened over the years by a microscopic fungi that thrives on alcohol fumes. The Charentes river lazes along in this picturesque town.

Taster’s choice: The Hennessy distillery makes cognac from mostly organic grapes. 

Resources

France Tourism; Michelin Green Guide to the Atlantic Coast; Poitou-Charentes-Vacance.