It’s possible to drive from Cognac to Saintes in half an hour, but I had more touring in mind, wanting to see these two towns, each with a population of some 4,000, as compared to Saintes with 25-30,000 and Cognac with about 18,000. I like cities, but smaller towns have more affordable properties, so seeing these sorts of places was much of the purpose of touring by car this time. As noted before, I’m interested in river towns. Jonzac and Pons are both on the Seugne River – and they’re both historic and charming. Like so many places in France!
First stop, Jonzac, known today as a spa town. The area was part of Saint-Germain-de-Lusignan in the Carolingian period. The Chateau de Jonzac dates from the 15th century; the earlier castle on its site was destroyed in the Hundred Years war. Two round towers remain from the medieval construction, though the chateau has been modified over the years and kept in use, serving currently as the town hall as well as the home of an archeological museum.
The Gauls established a significant town here, although the name Pons comes from the later Roman town. It’s had a fortified castle since the 10th century. There is a Romanesque church from the 12th century, among other historic monuments. Pons was on the route known as the Via Turonensis, used by pilgrims traveling from Paris to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela. Obviously then, rich in history; and the center of town still has its medieval character.