20240408 Cognac, Rennes unfortunately and finally our caravan


Manage to squeeze our car out of the dungeon.

Drive up to Cognac, one of the highlights of the trip. All this way to buy some Baron Otard Cognac.

Arrive at our garret in Cognac. It’s on the 2nd floor, that’s the 3rd for our American friends, all the way up a spiral wooden staircase. I think it dates back to Marie Antoinette’s time. Makes you feel old and dodarie when coming down and knackers you going up with your luggage. But, never mind the room is modern, comfortable and has a kitchen.

Wendy, gets the highlight of her trip with a visit to L Eleclerc. What a disappointment that was, poor choice.


Ban the Burka


Lazy morning, warm and sunny. I have a stroll around town and visit the tourist info, amazing they were open, but pretty useless.

In the afternoon we’ve booked a tour of the Baron Otard distillery and the castle. Wasn’t really interested in the castle but it seems some king or other was born there so they got quite excited about it. Finally get to the serious bit with the distillery. Overall a very informative and interesting tour and the tour guide spoke good English.

The best of the tour was left to the end, the tasting. Sadly they’re obsessed with their new D’Usse brand and you only get to compare the VSOP and XO. I ended up buying a Baron Otard VSOP to compare. Still prefer the Baron Otard but there’s not much in it. They won’t let you taste the Baron Otard VS, “that’s just for cooking with”, it’s also a lot cheaper.

End up buying 2 Baron Otard VSOP, 1 Baron Otard VS (the only way I can get to try it) and 1 D’Usse VSOP. Got to stock up as you can’t get Baron Otard in the UK. Looks like the greedy gnomes and goblins in their marketing department (source of all known evil) are really pushing this new D’Usse brand. Need to try the D’Usse some more alongside Baron Otard.

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Get to know the exclusivity that is Baron Otard

Exclusive, luxurious and splendid – all apt descriptions for the fine Baron Otard Cognac. This alcoholic beverage has an intriguing, ancient history attached, which dates as far back as the Middle Ages. Baron Otard Cognac has long been venerated from its conception in 1795, until today. This brand is superior in quality and highly valued.

The intriguing history of Baron Otard Cognac

The history of Baron Otard Cognac is absolutely enchanting, and as rich and exquisite as the beverage itself. Jean Baptise Antoine Otard, grandson of the Scottish Baron, James Otard, created Baron Otard Cognac in 1795. This followed his return from England, after being exiled from France. In 1793, in the town of Cognac during the French Revolution, James Otard was arrested and sentenced to death. The villagers, disagreeing with this decision, forced their way into the prison, and freed him. Baron Otard then made his exile to England, where he remained for a few years, returning in 1795, with the cognac that he had developed. Otard came from a family of winemakers, and they had experience behind them. The transition from winemaking to cognac was smooth, and the product manufactured was superior in quality and taste. Upon his return in 1795, Otard also purchased the Royal Chateau in Cognac in an auction. Baron Otard saved it from being demolished. He had plans to form his estate on the Chateau, prior to his arrest and exile, and so continued with his plan, once he had returned. The Chateau was the perfect place to create fine cognac. Its dense walls, a condition conducive for ageing, a humid environment, and the close proximity to the Charente River, ensured the final product would be impeccable.

Luxurious and exclusive: Baron Otard Cognac

Baron Otard Cognac is all about excellence and the marketing initiative reflect its merit and worth. When you purchase a bottle of Baron Otard Cognac, you immediately know that you have invested in an extraordinary product. You don’t even have to taste Otard Cognac, to recognise that you have a premium product in your possession. The way, in which Baron Otard Cognac is packaged, in elegantly shaped bottles, illustrates absolute exclusivity. The company is also known to produce limited editions, which again presents a feeling of distinction and value. Expensive and elite, the Baron Otard Vintage Cognac, launched in 2006, was produced from the Grande Champagne region. As little as 1000 bottles of this vintage cognac were released. The 1795 ‘Extra’ edition of Baron Otard Cognac is, however, the crème de la crème, and the most expensive of all cognacs. This special blend is stored in an undisclosed cavern, inside the Chateau, which adheres to an established tradition. All of this is carried out to create a product that promises exceptional quality. Smooth and spicy, while nutty and fruity, equally fitting descriptions for the amber liquid that is Baron Otard Cognac.

Robust and powerful, smooth, but never harsh, the refined aromas merge with the distinct flavours, to position this brand of cognac way above the rest, on the highest of ranks. Baron Otard Cognac carries the mark of the quality. It is made to perfection, ensuring every sip delivers a taste so exquisite, you will attest that Baron Otard Cognac is indeed the master of all cognacs.


Hotel is modern and comfortable spoilt only by the ridiculous high table.

Hated the really stupid little table with high chairs. Very modern and trendy, but totally impractical. Wendy couldn’t even reach the table and I got altitude sickness and nose bleeds sat on those high stools. Only a stupid trendy yuppie would think this was a good idea. A normal corner table with sensible chairs would have been so much more practical.


Lazy start to the day again.

We set off for lunch at a local restaurant, bugger another restaurant that’s too lazy to update their website to show they’re closed – bloody French.

Today it’s a trip to the Hennessy Distillery. Interesting 2 hour tour complete with rather bizarre virtual reality experience – does this mean I need an Apple Vision Pro? Best of all was the tasting, VS versus VSOP and the difference ice can make. Must say rather surprised to find ice improved the VSOP, contrary to the long held tradition swirling in a brandy glass to warm with your hands. But I think if the ice cubes melt it would spoil the taste, need those frozen ice rocks. Unfortunately for Wendy she was driving so I had to help out by supping her samples – life can be tough.

Cost me a bottle of the VS for Wendy, she preferred it to the more expensive VSOP – thank the FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monster). I tried them all in the lounge afterwards. Also we had to buy 6 stylish small tumblers. Another day, another dollar / euro. Interesting in the lounge we couldn’t buy a glass of the Caribbean version – law against it – but we could try all the more expensive Cognacs – now there’s a surprise. And then people wonder why we left to EU?

Splash out on a bottle of Pineau des Charentes. A local title, wow, it’s very sweet.

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Pineau des Charentes, (Pineau Charentais, or simply Pineau) is a regional aperitif of western France, made in the départements of Charente, Charente-Maritime, and (to a lesser extent) Dordogne. While popular within its region of production, it is less well known in other regions of France and somewhat uncommon abroad.
It is a fortified wine (mistelle or vin de liqueur), made from either fresh, unfermented grape juice or a blend of lightly fermented grape must, to which a Cognac eau-de-vie is added and then matured.
Pineau is also found as a home-made product in the neighbouring Deux-Sèvres and Vendée départements. There is also a similar drink called “Troussepinette” that is made in the Vendée, which is often flavoured with pine or fruits such as pear. Elsewhere in France analogous drinks are made (Macvin in Jura, Floc de Gascogne in the Armagnac area; there is also Pommeau, similarly made by blending apple juice and apple brandy), but these products are much less well known nationally and internationally than Pineau.


Weak government climate policies violate fundamental human rights, the European court of human rights has ruled.

In a landmark decision on one of three major climate cases, the first such rulings by an international court, the ECHR raised judicial pressure on governments to stop filling the atmosphere with gases that make extreme weather more violent.

Well if ever there was a reason to get out of the ECHR then this on top of Rwanda flights is it.


Depart Cognac, so glad we had two full days there and did the Hennessy tour.

4 hour drive up to our overnight in that dump they call Rennes.

Stay at an Ibis Styles, more upmarket and nicer than a basic Ibis. What the omitted to mention is that it’s a build site as they drill, drill and more drilling. Asked to be moved but it’s the same all over the hotel. “Oh don’t worry it stops at 17:00”, until then we’ll just go nuts.

Pop out to Intermarche for our dinner but they have nowt. End up at MacDonalds, to be fair the first this road trip. Not bad but not cheap.

Get a 20% discount for the noise after complaining.


Good news the World is not ending



It’s a short two hour drive up to the caravan at La Haye Du Puit.

Arrive in lovely warm sunshine, then the ordeal starts, setting up the caravan. Never fun, I think I’ll leave the joy of the awning until tomorrow and settle down to some well deserved, bread, cheese and not forgetting the all important wine. I’ve been looking forward to this all week.


Another warm sunny day. Time to man up and set up the awning. After 2.5 hours it’s done and stapled down. Can’t imagine it’ll wine a gold Olympic medal for the best set up awning, but at least it’s not fell down yet. They reckon these air awnings are easier than the traditional awning with poles. I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with that but at least you can set up single handed. Let’s hope it survives the winds forecast for Monday.

A tad more wine and the remnants of the Pineau des Charentes followed by the inevitable a snooze through “The Tourist” on BBC iPlayer – no wonder we couldn’t find it on Netflix.


Apparently Saint Augustine said:

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.


It seems that France has finally conquered its toilet seat problems, but if anyone is looking for a golden business opportunity then it’s toilet roll holders. In the vast majority of hotels and Airbnb’s not a single toilet roll holder encountered. Get yourselves on Dragons Den with a simple toilet roll holder and a marketing plan for France.


Another sunny day but not so warm. Time to enjoy the awning.

Just a lazy day sorting odds and ends in the caravan.

Finish the day with some wine and the last of my Camus VSOP Cognac. Amazing that I remained awake through “The Tourist” – it seems to have got lost though.


Filling our 40 gallon water butt is a great way to learn patience.


Wake up America


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