Limousin Tourism – Visit the Limousin region of France

The region of Limousin is a lovely agricultural region in the heart of France, landscaped with lovely pastures, valleys, and woodlands. Cattle and potatoes are the main products of the region, with charolais and limousine cattle the most prominent breeds. Until the 20th century, Limousin, a dialect of Occitan, was primarily spoken here. The region’s entire population is around 750,000, but is starting to increase slightly since the year 2000.

This mostly rural region is famed not only for its cattle, but also for the French Oak orchards, used exclusively by vintner Rémy Martin for the past century. Limoges, Guéret, and Brive-la-Gaillard are three cities you should visit in the region.

Limoges is the regional capital, known for its porcelain, though there are few factories still in existence there. Limousin oak barrels are used in the production of Cognac. Limoges reached its peak in the 13th century, and was at that time made up of two fortified settlements. The inner city was inhabited mainly by the well-connected and featured a developed port. However, after being sacked in 1370, it never fully recovered.

The porcelain industry grew strongly in the 18th century, and in the 19th, much of the city center was torn down and rebuilt. In Limoges, be sure to see the Crypt of Saint Martial, from the 10th century. The Gothic Cathedral of St-Etienne, built from 1273 to 1888, the Chapelle Saint-Aurélien, built from the 14th to 17th centuries, and the Church of St-Michel-des-Lions (1364) with a large bronze ball on its spire, are all worth visiting. The Bridge of Saint Martial dates from Roman times is another must-see.

Guéret is a small industrial town surrounded by woodland and farming. It’s located about 45 miles northeast of Limoges. There, the Church of St. Pierre and St. Paul, from the 13th century, is a popular visitor’s site, as is the Museum of the Sénatorerie, which served as a residence of Napoleon’s senators. It is now the home of the Society of Archaeological and Natural Sciences of the Creuse, and contains collections of art and natural history. The Chateau of Sainte Feyre, built in the 17th century on the foundations of a castle dating from the Middle Ages. Chabrières is a forest south of the town which includes a zoo that is noted for its protection of wolves native to the area.

Brive-la-Gaillarde was a regional capital of the Resistance during World War II, and functioned as the hub of clandestine information networks of many of the main resistance movements, including the Movements Unis de la Résistance. The city was the first city in Occupied France to liberate itself on its own, earning the Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 military decoration for the entire city. The square in the middle of town, the Place du Général-de-Gaulle, contains some houses dating to the 13th century. The Hotel de Labenche houses local archaeological finds and many 17th century tapestries.

Limousin is a part of France that is far removed from Paris or the other major cities. It is more rural, and representative of a side of France that most people don’t know much about, making it all the more interesting for the true Francophile.

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