The Limousin region is an area of unspoilt natural beauty and a rich history. As an off the beaten track tourist destination, Limousin is the perfect place for a peaceful, relaxing holiday. This idyllic landscape of green rolling hills and lush forests surprises visitors with its beautiful medieval castles and picturesque villages, many of which are listed as “Plus Beaux Villages de France” (Most Beautiful Villages in France). The area’s regional natural parks are a paradise for nature lovers and sports enthusiasts. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking on scenic trails, fishing in freshwater rivers, and boating on pristine lakes. Limousin is also rich in culture and there are art exhibitions and traditional festivals all year round. During the summer, festive open-air concerts are organized at beautiful locations. The region is also known for its food with excellent local ingredients. Limousin beef and foie gras are specialties, and the apples and seasonal berries are great.
1 Aubusson and de Creuse-vallei
With its quaint narrow streets and distinctive old bourgeois houses, the historic city of Aubusson takes visitors into a surprising world of artistic discovery. Aubusson earned the UNESCO cultural heritage designation for his craft of traditional tapestry . This time-consuming and labour-intensive weaving process has produced the beautiful tapestries used to decorate French chateaux during the Middle Ages. Aubusson has been famous for its intricate patterned tapestries since the 15th century, when immigrants from Flanders brought tape techniques with them.
Tourists can visit carpet workshops all over the city. L’Espace Tapisseries at 32 Rue Vaveix is a workshop that restores old tapestries, creating contemporary tapestries and old copies. On Rue Vieille (access through the tourist office) in the historic center of Aubusson, the Maison du Tapissier is an old tapestry weaving mill in a 16th-century building with beautiful tapestries and antique furniture. During this workshop, visitors can see looms at work on the looms. Another must-see attraction in Aubusson is the Musée de la Tapisserie 16 Avenue des Lissiers, which features 17th-century royal tapestries by Aubusson and 18th-century tapestries depicting pastoral scenes and contemporary works.
In the picturesque Creuse Valley, Aubusson is also a good base to explore the natural surroundings of this area. The river Creuse, which flows from the Massif Central, has carved this beautiful valley with impressive gorges. The green landscape is filled with many lakes, streams and beautiful hiking trails. Close to Lake Eguzon is the quaint village of Crozant with the ruins of a medieval castle. The village attracted many Impressionist painters, including Claude Monet, Armand Guillaumin and Gaston Vuillier, who came here to paint landscape scenes in the open air. This group of Impressionist painters became known as the artists “Ecole de Crozant” (“School of Crozant”).
One of the most beautiful towns in the Limousin, Uzerche is known as the “Pearl of the Limousin” for its serene setting, beautiful buildings and historical value. Many of the buildings are architectural treasures protected in a historic zone, which was created to ensure the preservation of the city. Uzerche stands on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river Vézère. In this harmonious landscape, the city has a magical appearance from afar with its medieval towers that keep watch over the valleys. The history of the city dates back to Gallo-Roman times and during the Merovingian period, from the 6th to the 8th century, Uzerche became a political center. The fortified city has many old vaulted paths and remarkable “hôtels Privés” (elegant private houses). There is a local saying: “He who has a house in Uzerche has a castle in Limousin.” The main attraction in Uzerche is theAbbatiale Saint-Pierre , a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture built in the 11th century by Benedictine monks. Other points of interest include the Porte Bécharie , once part of the ancient circuit of walls, and the Esplanade de la Lunade , which offers beautiful views of the countryside.
Designated a “City of Art and History”, the capital of Limousin has a rich cultural heritage. The Cathedrale Saint-Etienneis the most important monument in Limoges and its only Gothic building. Begun in 1273, construction of the cathedral continued through the centuries and was finally completed in the second half of the 19th century. In the north transept is the Portail de Saint-Jean, with intricately carved doors from the 16th century depicting the legends of Saint-Martial and Saint-Stephen. The cathedral’s 62-meter tower is an interesting mix of Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles. The interior contains three monuments of ecclesiastical dignitaries from the 14th and 16th centuries, a richly decorated choir window in Italian Renaissance style and beautiful stained glass windows. Behind the cathedral are the beautiful Jardins de l’Evêché (Gardens of the Bishop), and to the east is the eight-archedPont Saint-Etienne bridge built in the 13th century.
Impressionist painter Auguste Renoir began his career as a porcelain painter in Limoges, and it’s easy to see the connection between this artisan craft and the fine arts. At the Musée National Adrien Dubouché (8 Place Winston Churchill), tourists can discover more about this art form for which Limoges is famous. The museum has an extensive collection of pottery, faience, glassware and Limoges porcelain. Visitors should also stroll through the historic districts of the city along Rue de la Boucherie , Rue du Temple and Rue du Rajat to soak up the Old World atmosphere.
4 Saint-Pierre Saint-Paul Abbey, Solignac
The Abbatiale Saint-Pierre Saint-Paul in Solignac, one of the oldest and most important sites in the Limousin region, is located 15 kilometers from Limoges. Definitely worth a detour, the abbey is a remarkable destination in its own right. The history of the site dates back to 632 when it was a monastery where monks devoted themselves to prayers as well as to goldsmithing. However, the building was destroyed by the Saracens in the 8th century. Benedictine monks revived the monastery in the 10th and 11th centuries. The abbey suffered damage during the Wars of Religion in the 16th century, but the building has retained its original splendour. The typical Romanesque exterior reflects the shape of the rounded chapels and is decorated with arches and columns. The vaulted domes of the interior provide a sense of space and harmony. The sanctuary features impressive 15th-century stained glass windows and columns with decorative details such as griffins, palm fronds and serpents.
Address: Saint-Pierre Saint-Paul Abbey, Solignac 87110
5 Val Castle
With its turreted towers and picturesque lakeside setting, this fairytale castle seems to have been taken from the tales in a child’s storybook. The Château de Val was built in the 15th century and has been home to many notable owners over the centuries. The castle is now open to the public and is a wonderful place to experience the atmosphere of another era. Unlike many historic chateaux, the Château de Val is beautifully decorated with period pieces, giving visitors a real sense of what it was like to live there. Visitors should also be sure to see the castle Chapel Saint-Blaise, which is listed as a historical monument. The courtyard of the castle offers a pleasant space to admire the landscape. Around the property are quiet places that invite you to commune with nature under a shady lime tree, by a fountain, or near the old stables. During July and August, the Château de Val hosts outdoor music concerts on Wednesday evenings in the courtyard.
Address: Chateau de Val, Lanobre 15270
Official site: https://www.chateau-de-val.com/en.1,7653.html
6 Rochechouart Castle
The Château de Rochechouart stands proudly on a rocky promontory in an idyllic location in the Limousin countryside. Located in a regional natural park, the castle overlooks the Valleys of Graine and Vayres. It was built in the 12th century by the viscounts of Rochechouart and has been renovated over the years. The defensive elements of the castle are typical of medieval architecture, while the decorative elements show a transition to Renaissance architecture. The castle has been well restored and now houses the Departmental Museum of Contemporary Art Rochechouart , with 16th-century wall paintings, including richly detailed deer hunting scenes.
Address: Place du Château, Rochechouart 87600
7 Plateau of Millevaches
The Parc Naturel Regional du Plateau de Millevaches is an unspoilt natural campsite with a plateau of 314,000 hectares, rising to an altitude of 1,000 metres. This regional park offers an escape to a paradise of deep green forests, charming villages, peaceful lakes and pristine rivers. The park is also known for its otter population that thrives in freshwater rivers and streams. The Millevaches Regional Park has well-groomed trails ideal for walks and nature walks. Walkers will be delighted by the landscape with its wonderful variety of flora and fauna, from moorland and oak and beech trees to meadows grazed by the famous Limousin cows.
This quaint medieval town was an important stop on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage path during the Middle Ages. Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat has an impressive Romanesque church that has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Through its cobbled streets and narrow alleys, Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat takes visitors on a walk back in time. Much of the city has not changed since the Middle Ages. From the 13th to the 15th century, Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat was a wealthy town thanks to agriculture, tanneries and paper mills. Reflecting its heritage of economic prosperity, the town has large houses with large windows and ornate wrought iron balconies. The main squares in Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat are the Place de la République and thePlace Gay-Lussac .
This spectacular village was another important medieval pilgrimage site on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella, “Jacob’s Route”. Listed as one of the ” Plus Beaux Villages de France ” (Most Beautiful Villages in France), Collonges-la-Rouge is a striking village of red sandstone buildings. Most of the buildings date back to the 16th century, when many notable citizens of the Viscount van Turenne had houses here. The unusual red colored houses make this village incomparable to any other in France. Must-see attractions in Collonges-la-Rouge include the beautiful Eglise Saint-Pierre dating back to the 11th century and the noble mansions from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Another copy of Limousin’s ” Plus Beaux Villages de France ,” the village of Curemonte sits atop a rocky mountain with three castles dominating the landscape. Overlooking the Sourdoire and Maumont valleys, Curemonte is visible from far in the distance. Visitors can easily imagine the formidable impression this village must have made in the Middle Ages. Curemonte has a beautiful 12th century Romanesque church and the 14th century castle, Château Saint-Hilaire , where the author Colette wrote, Journal à Rebours . Curemonte is a popular filming location for movie sets, taking advantage of the village’s perfectly preserved historic piazzas and storefronts.
Mortemart is best known for its historic religious buildings, including a Carthusian monastery, a Carmelite monastery and an Augustinian monastery. These religious buildings surround a 10th-century castle that was home to the Dukes of Mortemart. Listed as one of the ” Plus Beaux Villages de France ,” Mortemart is a charming village with beautiful architecture. Beautiful mansions reflect the city’s rich heritage. In the center of town is an old covered hall which is still a hub for weekly markets where farmers sell fresh fruit, vegetables and other local produce to villagers.
Ségur-le-Château is another one of the ” Plus Beaux Villages de France ” regions . The village is located in a site favored by the Viscounts of Limoges for its security against invasions. However, the village was still the scene of battles during the French Hundred Years’ War. The history is felt on every corner of the village. Visitors will enjoy walking through the old narrow streets to admire pretty half-timbered houses. On a sunny day it is pleasant to take a nice walk along the river. Tourists should also be sure to check out the town’s medieval castle, which requires a climb up the hill but offers the reward of sweeping views of the landscape.
Where to Stay in Limousin for Sightseeing
We recommend these highly rated hotels and guest houses in charming Limousin towns such as Aubusson, Uzerche and Limoges:
- Hotel Joyet de Maubec: luxury Uzerche hotel, monumental building, stylish interior, personal service.
- Best Western Plus Hotel Richelieu: mid-range hotel in Limoges, comfortable beds, secure parking, helpful reception staff.
- La Beauze: 3-star Aubusson hotel, 19th-century mansion, modern decor, charming hosts, free parking.
- Ibis Limoges Centre: great rates, convenient location, sleek interior, multilingual staff.