Discover France’s rural heart through its traditions, festivals, museums and cultural events.
Ceramics may be a particular taste but there are few places in Europe where you’ll see a collection as impressive as the one at the Musée National Adrien Dubouché in Limoges, where over 12,000 pieces are on display. Limousin was a veritable Résistance stronghold during World War II. The Musée de la Résistance de Limoges in Limoges is a poignant tribute to the men and women who risked their lives harassing the occupying German forces.
Former French president Jacques Chirac has strong family links to Limousin. In 2000, he helped set up the Musée du Président Jacques Chirac in Sarran to house the oodles of random presents he was given during his time as head of state, which total more than 5,000 objects and 17,000 books. Shockingly, however, you have to pay to get in, which to us seems a bit like your grandfather charging you money to look at his Christmas presents.
Find out how Limoges’s amazing Porcelain is created with a factory tour of Royal Limoges and its original 18th-century brick kiln.
In Tulle, you can discover how the accordion – that backbone of French folk music – is made at the Manufacture d’Accordéons Maugein. If you’re lucky you may get to hear one being played.
All the Limousin cattle in this region makes for a lot of lovely leather. One of the finest craftsmen in this field is Thibault Favre d’Echallens, owner of Daguet in Saint-Junien, where his factory and shop are located. “We do not dominate leather; leather dominates us,” says this expert, the creator of fine bags, belts, gloves and even iPhone cases.
The town of Felletin is home to one of the finest tapestry and carpet producers in France: Pinton. “Many public and private places across the world proudly boast tapestries, rugs and even wall-to-wall carpeting by Pinton,” they tell us. “Religious buildings, embassies, theatres, airports, presidential palaces, luxury hotels, private jets, fashion designers.” Visitors can take a tour of factory and find out if it’s as good as they claim.
First off there’s Brive Festival, a sport and pop music festival in Brive-la-Gaillarde. This year it ran from July 20 to 29, with Julien Doré and Lamomali headlining a bill also including Christophe Maé.
Then there’s Festival de la Vézère, a classical music festival from July 12 to August 22 in the Corrèze. It centres around the Château du Saillant in Le Saillant but also hosts concerts at many other nearby towns and villages.
The steam train line that runs across Limousin over the summer months – known as the Chemin de Fer Touristique Limousin-Périgord – is a real blast from the past. This year there are 17 journeys planned between May 21 and August 23. Book online early before the train-spotters take up all the seats.
Wolves, giraffes, wildebeest and a pair of breeding tigers are among the 130 animal species that will welcome you to the 45-hectare Parc Zoologique du Reynou in Le Vigen. You can even stay the night in one of the four wooden lodges there.
Think of it as a theme park for Limousin cattle. Limousine Park, 10km south of Limoges, is dedicated to this chestnut-coloured cow that has become emblematic of the region. Here you’ll learn all about cattle production in France while admiring the Limousin cattle via the breeding programme, the petting farm, the traditional farm, the countryside walks, and the treasure hunt. If that all works up your appetite you can always dine on Limousin steak at the accompanying restaurant. It’s bound to be fresh.
From France Today magazine