Amongst the rolling, sun-drenched vineyards are many individual producers of Cognac, Pineau des Charentes and the Vins de Pays Charentais who are happy to welcome you for a tasting. In Cognac, the major Cognac houses offer tastings and tours and the Museum of the Arts of Cognac explains the history of this world-renowned spirit.

Alternatively, follow the four signposted itineraries, the ‘Etapes du Cognac’, or visit the ‘Cep Enchante’.

Just an hour to the south the vineyards of the Bordeaux region begin. A ferry trip from Royan is the direct route to the Medoc and the Chateaux of Margaux, Pauillac and many more top names.

Follow the Oyster route on the Ile d’Oleron, or visit the fishmarket at Criee de Royan. F

Fish and shellfish,Ile de Re potatoes and hand-harvested sea salt, Charente melons, butter, sheep and goat’s milk cheeses, cagouilles and Grillon charentais are all waiting to be discovered, at street markets and festivals, in cosy bistros and Michelin starred-restaurants, from gourmet shops, or straight from the producers.