The lakes and mountains, valleys and forests, interspersed with crashing rivers and small traditional villages all combine to give the Limousin its own very distinctive personality. The unspoiled charm and tranquility make this 'off the beaten track' region well worth exploring...
The Limousin region is situated in the centre of southern France, around the town of Limoges. It is essentially a rural region of unspoiled countryside, with a varied landscape of forested hills, open moorlands and traditional farms being the main features.
Much of the region is at an altitude of more than 350 metres, so it can be rather cold or wet. As a result the Limousin region is not always highly placed on the tourist circuit, but it has a great deal to offer and is perhaps perfect for those wishing to explore somewhere off the beaten track.
There are three departments that together make up Limousin: Creuse, Haute-Vienne and Correze. You can see the highlights for each of these departments below.
It is the Correze department of southern Limousin that is the most visited part of the region and where most of the popular highlights are situated, although the Creuse and Haute-Vienne departments also have their own places of interest for the more intrepid explorer!
The Correze department has a great deal to enjoy, with traditional towns and villages set in beautiful countryside and the upper reaches of the Dordogne river.
This is especially true of the south of the department where the countryside and villages have a lot in common with the neighbouring departments of the Lot and the Dordogne.
The capital of Correze is Tulle, a town with and interesting historic centre. North-east of Tulle we particularly enjoyed a visit to Meymac, a detour to the pretty village of Saint-Angel and the small historical centre of the village that gives its name to the department at Correze
The town of Donzenac is towards the west of the Correze department, north of Brive-la-Gaillarde, and within easy reach of several highlights including the impressive walled town of Uzerche on the Vezere river, which is one of our favourite towns in Limousin, and the two villages of Treignac and Ségur-le-Chateau that are both classified among the 'most beautiful villages of France'.
In the south-east of Correze you can find three more 'most beautiful villages of France' close together: Turenne, Collonges-la-Rouge and Curemonte. All three are very different in character and well worth exploring.
Close to here the pretty town of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne also has a centre containing medieval houses and a church, and is in a picturesque setting on the banks of the Dordogne river. The small town of Argentat a short distance to the north is especially lovely with its old houses overhanging the river.
The pretty scenery and the proximity of this group of villages and towns to the eastern Dordogne and northern Lot departments, each also very attractive, makes the south-east Correze the most visited part of Limousin.
See the Correze travel guide for more highlights and information
The Haute-Vienne and Creuse departments of northern Limousin are less visited than their southern neighbour, Correze, but each has its own quiet highlights waiting to be discovered and explored.
The capital of the Haute-Vienne department is the town of Limoges. Well known for its pottery, Limoges also has some historical monuments of interest to visit.
To the north-west of Limoges a particularly poignant visit is to Oradour-sur Glane, a village destroyed by the Germans during the second world war and retained unchanged since that day in tribute.
To the east of Limoges the town of Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat is pleasant to explore, and Eymoutiers in the south-east corner of the department also has an attractive historic centre.
Close to here the popular leisure lake called the Lac de Vassiviere is on the border between Haute-Vienne and Creuse and a popular base for leisure activities in the summer months.
To the west of Limoges you arrive at Aixe-sur-Vienne, the gateway town to the Regional Natural Park of the Perigord-Limousin. Close to here, Rochechouart is the site of a meteorite impact and has an attractive chateau.
The countryside to the north of the Haute-Vienne also has some interesting sights and places to visit such as Bellac and Le Dorat with its romanesque collegiale church. A short distance south-west of Bellac we recommend a visit Mortemart, classified as one of the 'most beautiful villages in France'.
See the Haute-Vienne travel guide for more highlights and information
In the Creuse department the most popular attraction is Aubusson, known worldwide for its rugs and tapestries a fact commemorated by museums in the town.
To the west of the department the market town of La Souterraine is another undiscovered highlight, and in the centre of Creuse we enjoyed a walk around Guéret, the capital of the department.
Close to Gueret your children will enjoy getting lost in the 'Labyrinthe Géant de Guéret', a giant maze covering more that two hectares and claimed to be the largest in the world!
Further east you can visit Evaux-les-Bains, the only spa town in the Limousin region.
In the north-east of the department you can visit the unusual landscape created by granite boulders called the Pierres Jaumatres at Toulx-Sainte-Croix and also the 15th century Chateau de Boussac, a richly furnished castle that is among the most imposing in Limousin.
Also in north-east Creuse, another imposing castle is the ruins of the Chateau de Crozant, on a rocky outcrop above the village of the same name and on a site occupied since prehistoric times.
In the south-west of Creuse you enter the northern Regional Natural Park des Millevaches and can also visit the largest lake in the Limousin region, the Lac de Vassiviere, which has beaches and various leisure activities.
Another natural highlight here is the waterfall called the Cascade des Jarraux at Saint-Martin-Chateaux.
(Oradour-sur-Glane photo courtesy Dennis Nilsson, Sweden)
French version: Limousin (Francais)