The beautiful region of Limousin is one of the least densely populated areas in France. With its lush green landscape, rolling hills, rivers and woodlands dotted with ancient castles and churches it’s also one of the least visited of France’s regions.
The region is best known to holidaymakers for its outdoor pursuits, thanks to the proliferation of rivers that flow through the area, as well as numerous springs and lakes. Sailing, canoeing, kayaking and fishing are very popular such as at Lac Vassiviere, a man-made lake of 1000 hectares where you can swim, windsurf, go kayaking, canoeing or sailing as well offering walking trails around its shores or boat rides to its central island with a sculpture park, café and museum. You can fish here too, by boat or from the shore – the carp is supposed to be excellent. There are 11,000 km of rivers and lakes in Limousin offering great fishing opportunities including trout and salmon. There are more than 10 lakes open all year and many more during the season, with over 2,240km of riverbank fishing and you can get a ‘carte de peche’ – a permit to fish from tabacs, campsites, bars and shops throughout the region or ask at any tourist office.
Walking, horse riding and cycling routes also cater to enthusiasts and there are plenty of small hotels, campsite and gites in the region.
The capital of Limousin is Limoges, a household name thanks to its production of china which has been made here since the 18th Century and there are museums and shops dedicated to the fine porcelain and chinaware of the region. Not far from Limoges is the small town of Courbefy which hit headlines in early 2012 when an entire village complete with homes, swimming pool and tennis court went on sale.
25kms northwest of Limoges is the village of Oradour-sur-Glane which has been left exactly how it was on June 10 1944 after SS soldiers attacked the village and the inhabitants were massacred, preserved as a shrine it serves as a haunting and chilling reminder of war.
East of Limoges is the town of Aubusson, which while it’s not a particularly outstanding place to visit is certainly famous thanks to its reputation for weaving. The museum there traces the history of Aubusson’s tapestries back six hundred years and if weaving and tapestries is your thing ask at the Tourist Office in Aubusson for more places to visit.
Arnac-Pompadour is famous for its grey and turreted chateau – it was a gift from Louis XV to his then mistress, Madame de Pompadour although she never actually visited it and it is now home to one of the best-known stud farms in France.
Things to do in Limousin
Enjoy canoeing or kayaking on one of the regions many rivers and lakes
The Medieval town of Turenne is very picturesque, hardly changed for centuries and with a towering castle
Take the mountain rail line from Limoges to Ussel – from June to September the steam trains poodle along stopping at small towns on the way. Details from the Steam Train website or Limousin tourist offices.
If you’re in Limoges in October – don’t miss the Frairie des Petits Ventres – a gourmet festival which the whole of the town participates in, a veritable meast feast of everything from pig’s trotters to sheep testicles which takes place in the rue de la Boucherie.