We stopped off at Jarnac for a couple of hours when we were on our way to Talmont. More about that in a later post.
Jarnac is on the Charente river and is between Cognac and Angouleme in the department of Charente. Two hours is probably doing it an injustice as I found it a very attractive town and I enjoyed my visit more than visits to Cognac which I have been to several times. It seemed more user-friendly, smaller and there was less nondescript stuff in-between which seems to be the case in Cognac. Not that I would advise against a visit to Cognac. (click to see my blog on Cognac)
It has a lot of history but the one thing you can’t fail to notice is the domination of the town by Courvoisier Cognac.
Courvoiser has a strong link to Napoleon Bonaparte who was reputed to have first of all prescribed it as a pick me up for his troops giving them a ration of cognac in the morning and a ration of wine in the evening. No wonder they lost – they were all too inebriated to care! Then when he lost and went on a little holiday to St Helena he was also reputed to have been granted one luxury item and that was several barrels of Cognac from the Courvoisier distillery. You can find out lots more about Courvoisier by visiting their excellent website. http://courvoisier.com/fr/lda/
There are several other producers of Cognac in Jarnac including another famous brand called Hine which predates Courvoisier as they started in 1817 and Courvoisier only relocated to Jarnac from Paris in 1828.
Of course the history of Jarnac goes back well before the 1800’s ; back in 1569 there were several battles in the area as part of the French religious wars between the Catholics and the Huguenots. The first battle was called the Battle of Jarnac and this was on 13th March 1569. The venue was on the right bank of the Charente river more or less where the road leaves Jarnac towards Angouleme. The result was that the Catholics won and the Huguenots lost. Incidentally Louis 1st of Bourbon ( later famous for his biscuits?) was killed and someone called Walter Raleigh was a bit part player for the Huguenots. He did not get killed which is just as well as otherwise we would not have had America. Hmmm maybe it would have been better….. no I will stop this line of thought.
There was a rematch between the Catholics and Huguenots on 25th June 1569 called the Battle of La Roche -L’abeille and the result this time was that the Huguenots won and the Catholics lost.
A decider was held on the 3rd October 1569 – the Battle of Moncontour. This time the Catholics were led by Charles IX of France and were bolstered by some foreign signings in the form of Swiss Pikemen. The result was that the Catholics won and the Huguenots lost. It was quite a resounding victory with no need for extra time or penalties.
That is the fairly ancient history. Coming more up to date, Jarnac was the birth place and home of Francoise Mitterrand who is quite famous and I will soon be posting a blog on him… better be carefull what I say in that one!
I liked Jarnac. The river is very much part of the town as is the cognac. There is the inevitable blackening of the buildings caused by the cognac and the fungus that feeds on the fumes and you can also breathe in that wonderful smell as you wander around.
There are boats for hire – big boats for the whole family available for a weekend or a week or longer. It looked quite tempting (visit Le boat for more info.) and it is something we may do when the grandchildren are a bit older.
To see info on other towns in the area please click on https://poitoucharentesinphotos.wordpress.com/villages-and-towns/