Limoges is most famous for its production of porcelain. In 1771, a rock rich in fine white clay was found near Limoges and, encouraged by the progressive economist: Baron Turgot, a new ceramics industry was developed, causing Limoges to rise up from its impoverished state and become a thriving town. It is now one of the chief manufacturing towns of France, making porcelain to perfection, as well as enamel, oak barrels (for Cognac production) and stained glass.
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Limoges is located on the banks of the River Vienne, in the Haute-Vienne department of the Limousin region (the ‘land of trees’). It is easily accessible from the UK; with good connections to the international airport of Limoges and the road link around 6 hours drive south of Calais.
Limoges was founded by the Romans around 10 BC and originally called Augustoritum. In these early days, the town consisted of an amphitheatre, a forum, public baths and several sanctuaries on a typical Roman square plan with 2 main streets crossing in the centre. Around 250, Limoges was evangelized by Saint Martial and it did well until the late 3 rd century, when it was increasingly abandoned due to invasions by the Germans. Then in the 11 th century, it started to flourish once again, as an artistic centre. It had the second largest library in France, an important school of medieval music composition –to which the 13 th century troubadour Bertran de Born was a member and 2 fortified settlements: the city (whose walls encompassed the River Vienne and was ruled by a bishop) and the castle (whose walls included the abbey and was ruled by the abbots of St. Martial). In 1792, these 2 settlements were united under the name of Limoges and everyone started to work together in the newly-developed porcelain industry so that by the 19 th century Limoges was firmly established.
The first thing to see is the examples of porcelain: wafer thin teacups to heavily worked vases. This can be done in several ways, there’s the Musee Municipal de l’Eveche, a gallery (and former Bishops Palace) built in the 19 th century that showcases the town’s talent of making enamelware and has a section devoted to how Limoges looked during the Roman era, the Musee National Adrien Dubouche, a museum that houses France’s most pretigious ceramic collections and, at 12,000 pieces, has the largest collection in Europe, Le Pavillon de la Porcelain which shows the artistry of porcelain making on a giant video screen and sells products at factory prices (the company has been exporting porcelain to the US since 1842), and Boulevard Louis Blanc, which is full of shops with porcelain.
Puces de la Cité, an antiques market held every second Sunday of the month is another good sight to see. Over 100 antique dealers bring their wares from all over France to the Place de la Cathedrale. And The St Etienne Cathedral is Limoges most important monument. A Gothic building started in 1273 and gradually finished over 600 years, its 16 th century façade is particularly impressive, built in full Flamboyant style, as is the richly decorated rood screen, built in Italian Renaissance style. Behind the cathedral meanwhile, is a beautiful garden.
Butchers played an important role in Limoges in the Middle Ages and there is a museum dedicated to their legacy that is also worth a visit. It gives guided tours of the area of town that was once exclusively for butchers only (Rue de la Boucherie), and there is an annual festival dedicated to the eating of meat: ‘Fraire des Petits Ventres,’ in which the whole village takes part, sampling a vast selection of French meat dishes.
Eveche Botanical Garden, situated on the banks of the Vienne, is an interesting botanical museum with medicinal herbs and flowers. And for golfers, there is Golf St Junien, an 18-hole Golf Course that meanders through the rolling hills of the Limoges area, offering challenges for golfers of all ski levels.
Local specialities include: Limousin beef (which is low in fat and cholesterol), ‘Pate de pommes de terre limousine’ (potato pie with smoked ham, herbs and galettes), pancakes made without eggs or milk, chestnuts, mushrooms, truffles and morilles from the forests, ‘Clafoutis’ (black cherry flan), ‘Cepes Farcis’ (stuffed ceps) and ‘Chou Rouge aux Chataignes’ (red cabbage with sweet chestnuts).
The famous local wine is ‘Mille et une Pierre,’ and Cognac is popular, due to Limousin oak barrels playing such an important role in its production: the brandy has to be aged for at least two and a half years in the oak barrels -during which time, a sizeable part of the water and alcohol evaporates through the oak and is called ‘part des anges’ (angels’ share).
The ‘Parenthese’ in the Cour du Temple is a good place to eat typical, local dishes and ‘Les Escales du Palais’ in the Place Winston Churchill has been greatly recommended.
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 agents near Limoges. All of them are registered French estate agents and speak both French and English. Whatever kind of property you are looking for: farmhouse, longere, barn, gite, B&B, country house, mill, castle or chateau, we will do our best to find a property in Limoges matching your requirements. Do not hesitate to contact us to find out more about our selection of properties for sale in Limoges.