La Bonne Chauffe is a Great Night Out

Having decided that we really don't get out enough, Andrew and I thought we'd venture in a north westerly direction to see what was happening towards Cognac.

We were delighted when we discovered a live music venue called La Bonne Chauffe, pretty well hidden in the little town of Saint-Fort-Sur-Le-Ne.

Although the town is on the main Cognac road (or the D731 for those who want to be specific), you do have to negotiation a hair pin bend and a windy road that's off the principal road to get to it. The chances are, you'd only pass it if you were lost.

Having said that, it's not really that hard to find and obviously once you know it's there, it's even easier!

The owners are probably the most welcoming and helpful people we've ever met. On our first visit, which happened to be a Tuesday, we anticipated the performance of a solo pianist, but it turned out the website we got that info from hadn't been updated. We were the only people in the bar and we did feel that perhaps it was something of a wasted journey.

How wrong we were.

We asked the gentleman (I really will have to find out their names) behind the bar when their would be music playing and explained that Andrew was a pianist and we were interested in discovering new places where he could play. He told us that the music was his wife's domain, and he would (to our horror) bring her down from bed where she was getting over a cold.

I tried to explain that that wasn't necessary, but he wouldn't have any of it.

I almost broke out in a sweat as I imagined how I would react if Andrew dragged me out of my sick bed and braced myself accordingly. It was quite unfounded however, as she proceeded to chat to me as if we were the best of friends. She didn't speak a word of English, which in hindsight was great because it meant two hours of solid french practise.

She told me all about her excitement of the forthcoming concerts (there's one every Saturday) and some of the best music venues around. We chatted about binge drinking in England, the hardship of jazz musicians throughout the globe and the best place to get coffee in the area (which, incidentally is a tiny cafe in Cognac whose name escapes me for the minute).

They gave me the number of a lady nearby who runs a theatre troupe and played us the CDs of some of the artists who had played there. It was little wonder why there were so many kind messages of thanks written to the couple upon them.

We've been back there twice since and have decided that we will try to go there for the jam night every Friday. They are open from Tuesday - Sunday, with live music on Thursday (solo piano) Friday (open jam session) and Saturday (concert nights). Admission is free and their opening hours are 6.30pm - 1 am(ish - we went there on Saturday and the band were still playing when we left at 2!)

Whether you're into live music or not, I would definitely recommend it. There's a great atmosphere and you're guaranteed an extremely friendly welcome.

Tel: 05 45 80 80 80

Address: place de la mairie, 16130 St Fort / Ne

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