Saturday, 21 October 2017

Cognac - from one Frances to a Francois

This town owed its initial fame to being a supplier of salt but is today mostly known for French brandy production and King Francois 1er.
Francois 1er king of France and great rival to England's Henry VIII was born here in 1494. This statue to him in Cognac's town square shows him trampling his enemies - a nice bit of political propaganda for the times. It's obvious his ennemies were nobles by their clothes and armour. He was the first King of France from the Angoul√™me branch of the House of Valois, reigning from 1515 until his death in 1547. 
Francois had a notable military success at Marignano and a notable failure at the battle of Pavia on 24 February 1525 where he was actually taken prisoner, kept in Madrid and had to make major concessions, with his two sons being hostages in order to gain his freedom. Francois is always recognisable for his ski-jump nose. A great patron of the arts he brought the Italian renaissance to France along with Leonardo da vinci and the Mona Lisa. He built and renovated so many lasting French chateaux and monuments, in particular the grandiose Chambord that it's impossible not to come across his influence when travelling through France today.
Cognac is famous for the past 200 years as the greatest cognac producing area in France. I didn't have much time to spend here but did enjoy its quaint streets and interesting architecture. Driving around this area you pass several famous names in the cognac wine-growing industry. Vinyards are everywhere. And buying cognac is possible from almost every second shop.

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