Cognac. I love this place. We've visited this charismatic town three times in the last five years and plan to go again next year.
The fabulous Chinese food and innumerable Cognac tasting opportunities are reason enough to go back, but we also appreciate the sophisticated atmosphere, the fact that it is easy to get around and to park in, and think that Cognac is generally, an all-around, delightful French town.
One of the best things about Cognac - it is people friendly.
Its small size (population around 20,000) means that it is easily navigated on foot. The medieval quarter is a maze of little streets that you can't resist exploring and a stroll along the river offers scenic views and shady spots to have a picnic or relax. In the summertime there are boat rides along the Charente river to consider.
You will be spoiled for choice when it comes to fresh seafood Le Marché Couvert, which is open every morning except for Monday. Other open air markets take place around town every Saturday and Sunday, offering a wealth of fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, charcuterie and seafood. There are also Marchés Bio (organic markets) held the 3rd Sunday of the month and every Tuesday and Friday.
If you're looking for places in France to visit, put the town of Cognac and the surrounding area on your list. The Charente and Charente-Maritime offer vast, gorgeous Atlantic beaches, quaint islands, some of the most succulent oysters you'll ever taste, world renowned Cognac, music and art festivals, Roman and Romanesque architecture and a beautiful landscape of rolling hills dotted with vineyards and picturesque fields of sunflowers.
What more could you ask for?
Official site of la Charente-Maritime (in French)
Poitou Charentes Tourism