Monday, April 23, 2012

Cognac, France - July 1, 2011

The city of Cognac sits on the left bank of the river Charentes in the Charentes department of the Poitou-Charentes region in west central France. The town is on one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostella and was first written about in the 9th century CE.
By the time of the Hundred Years War Cognac had been substantially fortified but even so changed sides several times as the result of fighting and treaties in the region, thus confirming an enduring French trait. Francis I granted the town the right to trade salt along the river and this was a license for growth and prosperity which eventually assisted the town's development as a center for wine and brandy.
The population of Cognac peaked in 1982 at 22,000 or so before settling back to  a fairly steady 19 to 20,000 currently. The world's best-known brandies start life in the peaceful countryside surrounding the Charente River, just a hundred miles north of Bordeaux. In a twenty-mile area called the 'golden circle" encompassing Cognac and Jarnac, all of the world's notable brandies are produced.
The largest church in Cognac is Saint-Leger. It was formerly the property of a former Benedictine priory and is now the main parish church of the city. Started in 1130, it was enlarged and renovated many times over the next three centuries resulting in a profusion of architectural styles. In 1598 and for twenty years thereafter, the church was converted to Protestantism as part of the religious wars upheaval.
For additional pictures, click here.

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