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478km (296 miles) SW of Paris; 37km (23 miles) NW of Angoulême; 113km (70 miles) SE of La Rochelle

The world enjoys 163 million bottles a year of the nectar known as cognac, which Victor Hugo called “the drink of the gods.” It’s worth a detour to visit one of the château warehouses of the bottlers. Martell, Hennessy, and Otard welcome visits from the public, as do other worthy maisons de négoce; visits usually include free tastings, although increasingly the big houses are charging for visits but making them more interesting in return.