Limousin is located in the very heart of France. It is bounded to the east by Auvergne, to the south by Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrenees, to the north by Centre (Loire Valley), and to the west by Poitou-Charentes. You will be able to find various property for sale in Limousin.
The Limousin region consists of 3 departements: the Correze (departement 19), the Creuse (departement 23) and the Haute-Vienne (departement 87).
With its population of 712,000 and surface area of 17,000 km², the Limousin is one of the most rural parts of France.
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Limousin is a historic province of central France in the north western part of the Massif Central. Rich pastures are used for raising Limousin beef cattle, one of the leading breeds in Europe.
Other traditionally famous products of the region are Aubusson tapestries and enamels and porcelains from Limoges, the historic capital and present regional center.
A Rich History
The region’s name is derived from the Lemovices, a Gallic tribe native to the area during the pre-Roman and Roman period. The area was controlled by Romans from about 50 BC. In the 16th century it came under Frankish rule. In 918, Limousin became a fief of Aquitaine, and during the Middle Ages it became well known for its troubadour poetry.Beginning in the 12th century, French and English kings vied for the control of Limousin, and during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) France gained control of the area. King Henry IV annexed Limousin to the French crown in 1607. In 1790 the province was divided among the present-day departments of Correze, Creuse, and Haute-Vienne.
An undiscovered part of France
The Limousin region is a largely undiscovered part of France. Rich with history and tradition, its stunning natural beauty is filled with charming chateaux and ancient churches.
Known as the French Lake District, the verdant countryside filled with valleys, ravines and forests provides everything for the nature enthusiast, and the lakes and rivers are not only beautiful, they also ensure there is lots to do for those who enjoy walking, riding and water sports. Golf is also popular here.
Meanwhile, for those who enjoy city life, there is Limoges, a great city with plenty going on and lots to see, and numerous picturesque villages and towns to explore, including some of the most beautiful in France.
There is a strong agricultural tradition and a real feeling of community throughout Limousin, which extends to the warm welcome visitors receive. The entire region has experienced much conflict throughout the ages and has always had a tradition of resistance, from Roman Times right up until the area excelled as a Resistance stronghold during World War II. The local mythology includes saints, sorcerers, alchemists and werewolves, there is even a witchcraft museum. In truth, there is something magical about the area, and people living in the area experience a freedom in the countryside that is exhilarating.
There are many pretty medieval towns and villages to explore in the region and the charm of seeing corbelled towers, keep doors and niches for saints that have been there for hundreds of years never loses its appeal.
People in Limousin believe in good farming methods and are proud of the fantastic food produced here, especially the beef, pork and lamb. There are also excellent river fish to enjoy (especially if you’ve caught them yourself!). Many regional specialities use the wide variety of mushrooms common here, as well as chestnuts, walnuts and fruit. The liqueurs made from pears, prunes, chestnuts and walnuts are strong and delicious and puddings are mouth-watering: Clafoutis, for example, which is an excellent, creamy cherry tart and Treipaïs, which is the pudding for the chocolate lover, traditionally a triangular shape, it is made with chocolate and chestnuts, on a biscuity sort of base.
In Limousin, you won’t encounter the usual tourist crowds found in other regions, but you will enjoy yourself far more and see a glimpse of the “real” France.
There are so many lovely castles to visit in the region that it is difficult to pick out a few to list here. Perhaps the best thing to do is decide which direction to head in and then discover the chateaux en route! Alternatively, you can choose to follow La Route Richard Coeur de Lion, and visit the chateaux dotted along its path. Some have activities for children, and there are medieval festivals in the summer that are fun to see.
Many of the castles in the area were built in the 11th century and then fortified or altered in the name of fashion. It is common to have parts of the same castle dating from several different periods. The competition between the Dukes of Aquitaine and their struggle for the thrones of England and France, meant that when it came to castle building a statement about power and wealth had to be made.
There are also hundreds of churches and abbeys of note; many are very ancient and beautiful with that almost mysterious air of calm one finds in old places of worship.
Châteaux de Chalus
Chalus is famous for being the final resting place of Richard the Lionheart. The story goes that Richard got word that some fabulous treasure had been discovered (denoted in the coat of arms) and was being kept here, so naturally he wanted his share. When he was refused, this led to the siege in 1199, where he was wounded by a prototype of the crossbow (then a medieval secret weapon). He refused treatment, the wound reportedly went black and he died at the age of 42, one of the most powerful and influential men of the time. Naturally very unpleasant things happened to the archer responsible, despite getting a deathbed pardon from the slain hero.
The castle is surrounded by the imposing granite blocks characteristic of the area, and has several parts dating from different periods, including a cylindrical dungeon.
Châteaux de Hautefort
This château really is a fairytale castle (it has been used in Hollywood films). It is very impressive and set above the village, on a huge hill. The formal gardens are lovely and transport you back in time, and are best viewed from the courtyards above, although there is also a nice woodland walk, if you prefer dappled shade, rather than sun-court formality.
This 15th century chateau is especially intriguing since it is built alongside the 20km crater of an ancient (200 million years ago) meteorite strike. It is also the home of a collection of 16th century frescoes as well as a collection of contemporary art.
Limoges has medieval pockets scattered throughout and you can stumble upon the most amazing lopsided medieval buildings anywhere and spot the tell-tale wooden beaming everywhere. There are 13th century bridges, and river walks. There is a tourist “train” that departs from the Tourist Office from which you can take in some of the sights.
There are plenty of “trocs” and brocante shops in and around Limoges, as well as specialist antique dealers and galleries. There is of course the monthly brocante market near the Cathedral, which also sells food, and has a great atmosphere. There are plenty of restaurants to suit every taste, and in the summer you can usually dine al fresco.
Limoges has an impressive selection of cultural activities on offer, including the Opera and Theatre in the centre of town. There are also lots of art exhibitions in local galleries that are enjoyable for browsing. The “Arts of Fire” porcelain, glass, enamel and stained glass, are still important to the city, and the traditional methods are supported. There are museums exhibiting these arts, and many of the famous names, such as Havilland, show works and have demonstrations.
There is a good range of parks in the region, and below are the most interesting excursions.
Futuroscope is an amazing park filled with exhibits celebrating science and technology. It specialises in catering to all ages, and has exhibits simulating everything from skydiving to space walking! There is plenty to see and do and really aims for fun and education.
Sounds strange, but celebrates volcanoes and offers exhibits like “Journey to the centre of the Earth!” It also has a new timely exhibit about Mars, and has workshops for children aged between 6 – 12 years old. Children are treated as “explorers” here, and it’s pretty atmospheric due to the surrounding impressive volcanoes of the area!
Le Parc du Reynou
Children love this park! It is a huge safari park, where the animals all look happy, and the number of baby animals there shows they are successful.
Lakes, Rivers & Watersports
The Limousin Region is said to be the French Lake District.
Lake Vassiviere has plenty of facilities (including over 300km of walking trails) and many water sports available. It also has an island that boasts a sculpture park and Centre d’Art Contemporain, which is designed in the image of a ship and lighthouse. The art museum here is impressive and the setting makes it an unforgettable experience.
There are also watersports including canoeing, kayaking, rafting, water polo and waterskiing on the main river of the region, the majestic Vienne.
The stunning Gimmel-les-Cascades is the site of three waterfalls ranging from a 45m drop to 60m drop, the last, called Queue de Cheval (Pony Tail), into a deep ravine, and is really worth the walk to enjoy. Nearby, there is also the Etang de Brach with lovely bathing beaches, and boating.
There is an immense nature reserve, the Parc Naturel Regional Perigord-Limousin that would take even the dedicated hiker a few weeks to explore (1660sqkm). The Reserve has loads of wildlife and, like the region in general, is a good spot for birdwatching.
Hiking / Walks
There are plenty of trails (chemins) to follow in Limousin, around lakes and huge nature reserve parks. There are also trails in the Auvergne, where you can trek around volcanoes, the Ambazac Hills, where you can reach peaks of 800m and be rewarded by lovely views, and Aboretum, which is more relaxed (easy enough for small children) with plenty of picnic spots to be enjoyed.
Most of the walks take in historic sites and dramatic scenery (waterfalls, gorges etc.)
Limousin property market:
A property for sale in Limousin can vary from 50,000 euros for a stone house to renovate in the Correze up to 600,000 euros for a character stone house with gites and 3 acres of land. Finding a property in Limousin requires time and advice that you can get for free from our consultants in charge of this area.
Travel from the UK
By air: Ryanair flies to Limoges from London Stansted, East Midlands airport and Liverpool.
Our team of sale advisers at Sextant Properties will be happy to help you to find a property in Limousin. We have a large network of partners in Limousin. All of them are registered French real estate agents and speak both French and English. Whatever kind of property you are looking for: farmhouse, barn, gite, B&B, country house, mill, castle or chateau, we will do our best to find a Limousin property matching your requirements. To find out more about our properties for sale in Limousin do not hesitate to contact us.