Must-sees in Limoges
Les Halles centrales.
The Halles centrales in Limoges are the beating heart of the upper town and the symbol of a gourmet and creative capital, with their steel, glass and brick structure in pure Eiffel style. A frieze of 328 porcelain tiles adorns this temple of gourmet delights, where you can sample the region's specialities: Limousin beef, galetou (a stuffed buckwheat pancake), chestnut pudding or flognarde, a kind of apple flan... Enough to whet your appetite for La Frairie des Petits ventres, which commemorates the butchers' fraternity every October, and the Toques et Porcelaines festival, which celebrates the link between gastronomy and the arts of the table (every two years in September). A stone's throw away, don't miss the opening in July and August of the Maison Traditionnelle de la Boucherie (Traditional Butcher's House), where you can find out all about how butchers used to work, from slaughtering to drying the hides! In this district of beautiful half-timbered houses, you can also discover the technique of enamelling at the gallery Le Canal, which brings together a dozen designers specialising in this regional know-how.
Rue Jean Jaurès
Designed before the outbreak of the First World War (known as the Champs Elysées of Limoges), this street is a treasure trove for Art Deco enthusiasts with its beautiful buildings, some of which are listed as historical monuments. Particularly noteworthy are the Marquès building, built in 1923, and the residence at 6, with its modernist polychrome décor.
Cour du Temple
Elegant granite and timber-framed villas line this square in Limoges, whose arcades rise above a pavement made of gazette shards, a peculiarity of the capital of the fire arts. These refractory clay supports, used to separate the pieces of porcelain during the firing process, have been reused throughout the city. When the weather is fine, the terraces invite you to take a break - enjoy!
This is one of the few great Gothic monuments south of the Loire and one of the finest ogival cathedrals built in granite (construction began in the late 13th century and was completed in the late 19th century). Highlights include the extravagant Gothic Saint Jean portal and the Renaissance rood screen inside the church. Admire the panoramic view over the Vienne from the terraces of the 5-hectare Jardins de l'Évêché: a French garden, a botanical garden and an ecological area to discover the biodiversity of the Limousin. A real oasis of freshness, ideal for a break between visits!
Art deco, art nouveau and neoclassicism... Designed by the architect Roger Gonthier, the Gare des Bénédictins is rightly considered one of the most beautiful stations in France, if not the world! Even if you don't take the train, stop off to admire its monumental lines: its copper-domed dome is flanked by a campanile that rises 61 metres above the ground! Equally impressive is the decoration, which recalls the excellence of the skills developed by the city of Limoges: stained glass windows signed by the master glassmaker Francis Chigot and statues symbolising porcelain and enamel, two other materials born of the unrivalled mastery of the art of fire.
Adrien Dubouché National Museum
This magnificent showcase presents the main stages in the history of ceramics, from antiquity to the present day, with no fewer than 5,000 pieces on display, including the largest public collection of Limoges porcelain. From the discovery of the first deposits of kaolin in 1768, you'll be able to follow step by step the epic history of porcelain, whose heyday in the 19th century coincided with the era of the great exhibitions. Among the most spectacular creations to be admired in the Salon d'Honneur is the "Grain-de-riz" service, a masterpiece by the Jean Pouyat factory, presented at the Universal Exhibition of 1878. A visit to the Casseaux kiln museum is a must. Listed as a historic monument, you'll see the impressive round refractory brick ovens that were used for baking until the middle of the 20th century.
Must-see activities in Limoges
Get your hands dirty with Porcelain
There's nothing like getting your hands dirty to understand the process of making porcelain! As France's leading porcelain manufacturer, the Manufacture Bernardaud is the perfect place to discover the extreme sophistication of this ancient craft. Touch the materials or listen to the incomparable sounds of Limoges porcelain... The interactive tour reveals the secrets of a unique know-how whose design has been renewed since its origins: each year an exhibition presents contemporary artists from all over the world!
Making sneakers on the leather trail.
Since the Middle Ages, leatherwork has flourished on the banks of the Limousin rivers, and today it is exploring new avenues of development in the world of luxury goods. In Saint-Junien, you can experience the excellence of French leather at first hand at the Agnelle workshop and its top-of-the-range gloves, or at the heart of the Bastin tannery, which produces the raw material for the famous J.M. Weston shoes. And at Uniqua in Limoges, a new local eco-brand, we make our own trainers from surplus leather, recycled natural rubber soles and removable insoles made from cotton, sheep's wool, wood fibres, corn fibres and 100% natural latex! Fully customisable, your pair can be personalised to suit your needs.
In the footsteps of the Resistance
Did you know? The Limousin maquis was one of the most active during the Second World War and the history of the Resistance in France is closely linked to that of the region. To commemorate this dark episode of the 20th century, start with a visit to the Musée de la Résistance in Limoges. In this former convent of the Sisters of Providence, dedicated to all those who sacrificed their lives for freedom, you can discover the history of the movement and the occupation of Haute-Vienne. This is a prerequisite for discovering the martyred village of Oradour-sur-Glane, 22 km from Limoges, whose entire population was massacred by an SS Waffen SS unit on 10 June 1944. Next to the ruins, the Centre de la Mémoire recalls this tragic episode through images, films and texts... A moving and educational stopover, especially for families...
Sailing from lake to lake.
In the Limoges countryside, one lake may hide another! In the heart of the Millevaches Regional Nature Park, you can explore the paths around the Lac de Vassivière, one of the largest artificial lakes in France (1000 hectares), on foot, on horseback, by bike or on a donkey. You can also go fishing or take an artistic cruise to the island of Vassivière and the Centre International d'Art et du Paysage. In summer, you can even visit the Bois de Sculptures by canoe! In summer, the Lac de Saint Pardoux, 30 minutes north of Limoges, has three beaches for swimming. If you're a keen walker, there are 20 km of paths along the lake's shores, surrounded by lush greenery, so you can get your fill of oxygen!