Limousin, the green region in the heart of France

Many drive through the Limousin, one of the greenest regions of France with hills, forests, lakes and nature reserves, when making their way to their holiday home in France. Since the French Revolution, Limousin has been divided into the three departments of Corrèze, Creuse and Haute-Vienne. This region is located in the middle of France and has Limoges as its capital , a city known for its porcelain production. Some of the pretty villages in the Limousin are Collonges-la-Rouge with its red houses, Turenne located on top of a hill, Aubusson which is known for its tapestries, and many more. The region is known all over the world for its cows. In addition to good pieces of meat, other regional dish include Clafoutis pie, Bréjaude soup and Galette Corrézienne. The Limousin is popular for hiking, water sports, cycling and fishing. Did you know that the Limousin is home to the largest planted maze in the world? And that the limousine car model owes its name to this region? There used to be a similarity between the "limo" and the way the inhabitants of the Limousin dressed.

The Limousin region with its forests, lakes, hills and rivers

The landscape in the Limousin region mostly consists of forests, rivers, lakes, peat bogs and marshes. The swamp of  Dauges is a national nature reserve. Other nature parks are "Regional Natural Park of Millevaches" and "Périgord-Limousin Regional Natural Park”. In addition, there are many nature reserves. The area is also known as the "water tower of France" because it has a lot of water. The rivers Vienne, Charente and Vézère rise in the Limousin. The Dordogne river also flows through this region. Well-known lakes are Vassivière and St. Pardoux with various beaches and water sports facilities. Etang La Grande Cazine is a popular lake for fishing. The Limousin is hilly and in some parts mountainous with deep gorges such as the Crozant. The Château de Crozant, of which the ruins are still visible today, was one of the most powerful castles in France at the time. The name "Crozant" is also known because of the movement of impressionist painters such as Monet and Guillaumin who come here to paint. The highest peaks in the Limousin are the Mont Bessou(977m) and Puy Pendu(973m) and belong to the Montagne Limousin. South of Mortemart lies the Monts des Blonds mountain range with beautiful rock formations. In the Réserve Naturelle nationale de l'astroblème de Rochechouart-Chassenon, you can see where a meteorite once struck the earth.

Nature reserves in the Limousin

  • Parc Millevaches
  • Parc Périgord-Limousin
  • Moeras Dauges
  • Rivier Vienne
  • Rivier Vézère
  • Rivier Charante
  • Lac de Vassivière
  • Lac St. Pardoux
  • Etang La Grande Cazine
  • Château de Crozant
  • Mont Bessou en Puy Pendu
  • Monts des Blonds

Cows from the Limousin

The name "Limousin" is also known because of the world-famous breed of cows that comes from this region. The meat of this breed is one of the most prized meat breeds in the world. The cattle of the Limousin are powerful, muscular and can grow up to 1.60m, bulls can even grow up to 1.80m. They have a wheat-coloured fur, only the belly, the back, and between the legs, the fur is of a lighter colour. Originally, the variety came from the Massif Central and was used for agriculture. In the time of mechanization, the cow became obsolete, it was then bred for meat. The breed is distributed all over the world and can be found in 80 countries. The meat of this beef has a nice and varied taste, which is why it is so popular. In the Limousin it is quite humid which means the cows can eat amply. The meadow is full of all kinds of grass, herbs and plants that provide the world-famous taste of the Faux Filet.

Limoges, the capital of the Limousin

The Limousin is a sparsely populated region. By French standards, the capital Limoges with its 140,000 inhabitants is not seen as particularly large. Certainly not when compared to cities such as Paris, Marseille, Lyon or Toulouse. Limoges is also the capital of the Haute-Vienne department. The city has all sorts of facilities such as: shopping centres, a university, office complexes and all kinds of things to do for both its inhabitants and tourists. The city was founded at the beginning of the Common Era by Emperor Augustus. The Roman influences are still visible with for example, the amphitheatre and the bridge over the river Vienne. In the 4th century the city was almost deserted, later St. Martial, the first bishop of Limoges, built an abbey and the city grew. The abbey has a huge library, the third largest in France. In the center of Limoges there are nice shops and boutiques. You can also go shopping in Galerie Lafayette and Centre St. Martial. Visit the pretty town hall, the train station, and the Gothic St. Etienne Cathedral. The bishop's garden "Jardins de l'Évêché", which is located near the cathedral, is terraced all the way down to the river Vienne.

When visiting the old town, you should also walk through the "Quartier de la Boucherie". This is the old quarter where the butchers used to work. Here you will find medieval houses with wooden facades. The streets slope downwards. This was useful for the butchers: it allowed the blood of the slaughtered animals to flow away.

Porcelain from Limoges

Limoges is also famous for its porcelain and vitreous enamel which have both been produced in the city for years. In 1768, a certain type of pure clay was discovered that is unique and particularly suitable for making porcelain. This led to the emergence and great flourishing of a new industry. The porcelain from Limoges is now used all over the world in chic restaurants. If you want to see the porcelain, go to the Boulevard Louis Blanc. There are many shops selling porcelain and vitreous enamel. We also recommend visiting the National Porcelain Museum "National Museum of Porcelain A. Dubouché" which is , obviously, also full of all kinds of porcelain. This museum focuses on how porcelain used to be made. Visit Manufacture Bernadaud if you want to know even more about porcelain.

Limousin 13 Limoges vakantie Frankrijk Dordogne villa porselein millevaches.jpg

Cities and towns in the Limousin

After Limoges, Brive is the largest city in the Limousin. It is located on the banks of the Corrèze, has a beautiful old town and holds a large market with local products on Saturdays. One of the most beautiful villages in the Limousin is Collonges-la-Rouge. It is called the ruby of France. The houses and castles are all built with red bricks. Tulle is located in the south of the Limousin and is the capital of the Corrèze. It is a city full of culture, festivals and has a beautiful downtown area with medieval houses such as Maison de Loyac. In the past, the material tulle was produced in Tulle. The village Oradour-sur-Glane was completely destroyed in the war and its inhabitants were murdered. To remember this horrific event, nothing has changed in the village. A visit to this war memorial will leave deep impressions on you.

Other beautiful villages in the Limousin

La Souterraine is an old town in the north of the Limousin that was founded by monks. The place is strongly linked to the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. The Tour de Bridiers is well-known. Among the most beautiful villages in France are Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne which lies on the Dordogne river and St. Benoit du Sault with its medieval houses. The commune Saint-Junien is located in the Haute-Vienne in the middle of the cattle breeding area. It became known for the production of products made of leather. Tanneries have been located here for centuries. Also visit the old Abbey of St. Armand. On top of the hill, strategically located, is the village Turenne. It used to be a centre of power. The village Arnac-Pompadour is popular among horse-lovers. This village is well-known for the Anglo-Arabian horses that are bred here.

During your holiday, visit the horse races and dressage competitions. Arnac-Pompadour is also known for its castle donated by Louis XV to one of his mistresses: Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson. She was later given the name Madame de Pompadour. In Coussac-Bonneval, a large castle stands high above the village. It is still owned by the Bonneval family who regularly stay there. Châlus is the village that is known in history as the place where the English king Richard I, who was also Duke of Aquitaine, was fatally struck by an arrow. The ruins of the castle are still visible. On the Auvézère river lies Ségur-le-Château, a beautiful village listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. During the holidays, damsels, knights and peasants walk through the village, giving the village a real medieval feel to it. Other villages worth visiting are Mortemart, Curemonte, Le Dorat, St. Yrieix-la-Perche, St. Robert, Noblat, Bellac, Treignac, and more.

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