Limoges

Limoges

The capital of Limousin (in the centre west of France) is also the capital of ceramics. Limoges sits peacefully beside the river Vienne. Travel to Limoges and discover its rich historic and artistic past. One of the most famous French painters of all time was born here: Auguste Renoir. And of course you can't visit Limoges without tasting the local Limousine specialities, such as the famous Limousin beef, from France's finest beef cattle.

As you step off the train in Limoges you may already notice something out of the ordinary: the Limoges Bénédictins Station is like no other. Its belfry and cupola shimmer like a lighthouse in a storm, while in the main interior hall neoclassical sculptures and Art Deco stained glass windows make this station one of the most beautiful in Europe.

Since medieval times Limoges has been famous for its enamel, and in the 18th century it became known for its porcelain when deposits of kaolin were discovered nearby. The Adrien Dubouché National Museum of Porcelain tells the story of Limoges porcelain, as well as that of sandstone and earthenware. The modern style of this stunning Art Deco building is naturally suited to the display of contemporary creations too: admire the elegance of these precise and refined pieces. But the saga of Limoges porcelain does not end here. You can visit the old kiln at the Four des Casseaux, which is within the current Royal-Limoges factory, renowned for making crockery for luxury hotels such as the Crillon, the George V and even the Ritz: Limoges certainly has a taste for luxury. On the Boulevard Louis Blanc - the "porcelain boulevard" - you'll find and endless number of specialised shops in Limoges. The local taste for perfection and ornate decoration also reveals itself in the shoe industry which is very much present in Limoges (check out Weston shoes which are hand-sewn) and generally in the fashion industry: workshops here attract the great designers of the luxury fashion industry. Designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac started off in Limoges before bursting onto the Paris scene.

You might start seeing double in Limoges: while the "city of bishops" is grouped around the Gothic Cathedral of Saint-Etienne de Limoges on the right bank of the Vienne, on the other side of the river the new town replaced the old château of Limoges. In the "city of bishops", you can stroll in the botanical gardens of Limoges: the Jardins de l'évêché (bishops' palace gardens) and discover the treasures of the Bishops' Palace Museum which include impressionist works by Renoir and an unequalled collection of enamels. In the Boucherie quarter, half timbered houses rub shoulders with antique shops, boutiques and fine restaurants in Limoges. The food festival, La Frairie des Petits Ventres takes place on the 3rd Friday in October. You'll find sausages, hams, tripe, Limousin beef and all kinds of meaty delicacies here to sample and buy. Your carnivorous cravings sated, cleanse your palate with one of the local apples which are particularly tasty, or for a sweet treat have a slice of clafoutis, a cakey pudding made from fruit baked in batter. In summer the Festival 1001 Notes en Limousin sends classical notes through the town.

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