One of the many charms of the town is its situation by the Charente. The main commercial artery, the river, shaped the town. Townhouses and the cellars of the great cognac houses have given it its personality.

Archaeological excavations to the west of the town have uncovered signs of human occupation from neolithic times and later from the Gallo-Roman period. During the early Middle Ages, the town centre seems to have been more to the east, around the Saint-Pierre priory, a dependency of the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Cybard in Angoulême.
Jarnac’s most glorious moment came in 1410, when the important lordship passed into the hands of the Chabot family, owners until the Revolution.

Between river and vineyards

Destination Cognac
A stroll along the rue Tribord, the cobbled street in the town of Jarnac

Jarnac is also the birthplace of President François Mitterrand, and you can still visit the house where he was born.

Wandering along the river, on foot or by bike is an enjoyable way to discover the town’s eventful history step by step: the Saint-Pierre church, the Place du Château or try a more modern visit with geocaching or virtual reality.
Traces of human occupation date back to neolithic times and the Gallo-Roman period.
From the Middle Ages, salt-laden barges sailed up the river, the salt-trade playing a major role in the town’s economy. Jarnac was one of the principal salt ports on the Charente river.

The former château

Jarnac was built around the Saint-Pierre priory and the château. In the 13th century, the town was surrounded by a wall with 9 towers and 2 main gates, the Saint-André gate (constructed at the beginning of the current main street) and the Saint-Pierre gate.
In the 10th century the lord Wardrade Lorichés built a castle to defend Jarnac from raiders. During the Hundred Years’ War, the castle was attacked many times. In the 15th century, Renaud Chabot, the lord and Count of Jarnac built a new château that was sacked in 1793, its archives burned and the park partly cleared.
In 1800, the château was in ruins and a decision was taken to demolish it to build a new road. A public square, Place du Château, is all that remains.

Destination Cognac – Damien Garcia

From the château, it was possible to reach the gardens located on the islands. The current public garden is just a small part of the château’s gardens. It was created in 1900 and the gate carries the arms of the Chabot family.

la crypte de l'église saint pierre à Jarnac
Destination Cognac

The Saint-Pierre church

That the church suffered numerous destructions and upheavals makes it difficult today to be sure of its architectural pedigree. The crypt and choir probably date from the 13th century. The Saint-Michel crypt houses the remains of the lords of Jarnac and is the most remarkable part of the building.
The church was set on fire in 1562 by the Protestants during the Wars of Religion. The vaults were knocked down and the church spent many years open to the skies before being restored in 1601.

The Jarnac trick, a secret boot

Le coup de Jarnac

This expression “Le coup de Jarnac” came into use during the 16th century … but why and who? Back to the origins of Guy Chabot’s secret boot!

“France is not like Jarnac but I would like the whole of France to resemble Jarnac…”

François Mitterrand

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