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Sifex France Guide to Limousin

Relatively unknown as a holiday destination, the Limousin is just beginning to enjoy popularity for which it is well qualified. Unspoilt and pleasantly situated away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, the region has wonderful lush countryside criss crossed by a plethora of rivers and lakes. Sheep and the cattle of the Limousin graze, and the Plateau de Millevaches is not as you might suppose, the Plateau of a thousand cows, but is derived from the world ‘Melo’ ( high place) and ‘Vacua’ (empty or abandoned.)Set between 500 and 980 metres this plateau is an idyllic place with some wonderful views. There is the Vassivière Lake and the valleys of the Dordogne, Vézère and Vienne. With these high plateaux and rivers full of trout, pike and sander and chestnut forests carpeted with ceps and other edible fungi it is of course a region blessed with many gastronomic delights. Known for its excellent beef and milk fed veal it is also known for its charcuterie, saucisson and pâtés which often feature the chestnuts. There are of course cheeses and the batter based cherry clafoutis and apple falugnarde.This terrain also offers opportunities for mountain biking, riding, hiking, watersports of all kinds ranging from waterskiing to Windsurfing and sailing, canoeing, fishing and rambling and there are seven golf courses.

The region is also rich in history, châteaux and medieval villages. In all there are seven of the most beautiful villages of France including Collonges-la-Rouge, Curemonte and Mortemart. When Richard the Lionheart set off on the third crusade with the French King Philippe-Auguste, the overlords strengthened their defences against him and a line of fortified towns and châteaux along the south west border of the Viscounty of Limoges was the result. The route of Richard the Lionheart includes the Châteaux of Châlus, Nexon, Rochechouart, Pompadour and Montbrun. Just before he died, after he had been shot at Châlus, Richard ordered Montbrun be attacked as he had heard it held treasure.There are of course also fine Romanesque churches along the pilgrim’s route to St Jacques de Compostela.

Limoges is the capital of the region and was founded by Emperor Augustus in 16BC. It boasts Roman remains and villas. In the 12th and 13th centuries, champleve enamels were produced in quantity in Limoges workshops. In the 18th century the discovery of kaolin nearby made Llimoges famous for its fine white porcelain, still an important industry. A superb collection can be seen in the Musée National Adrien-Dubouché. Now Limoges has a 900 acre business centre and high technology is replacing the place held for so long by the porcelain trade. The sea and mountains are less than 3 hours away and Paris, only 50 minutes with daily flights to Orly and Roissy as well as Lyon and Clermont-Ferrand. The City benefits from the best of urban life including opera, theatre, films, baroque and rap music and many sports facilities within a peaceful environment. The climate is enviably mild with only one degree’s difference between Toulouse and Limoges in January. In addition the city is surrounded by wonderful countryside – a giant natural park at the city gates. Copyright: Sarah Francis

© 2003-2006 Sarah Francis

Sifex France Guide to the Departments in Limousin