12 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in the Limousin Region
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The Limousin region is an area of unspoiled natural beauty and rich history. This idyllic pastoral landscape of green rolling hills and lush forests surprises visitors with its magnificent medieval castles and picturesque villages, many of which are listed as Plus Beaux Villages de France (Most Beautiful Villages of France).
The area's regional nature parks are a paradise for sports enthusiasts. Opportunities abound for hiking on the scenic trails, fishing in freshwater rivers, and boating on pristine lakes.
Plan your trip with our list of the top attractions and best places to visit in the Limousin region.
See also: Where to Stay in Limousin
The historic city of Aubusson has been renowned since the 15th century for its intricately patterned tapestries. The time-consuming and labor-intensive weaving process has produced the gorgeous tapestries that were used during the Middle Ages to decorate French castles.
For six centuries, the city has been a center for the industry of handcrafted tapestries. Today, Aubusson is still considered the world capital of tapestries. In 2009, UNESCO inscribed Aubusson tapestry on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Tourists may visit tapestry workshops throughout the city, such as Espace Tapisseries Aubusson (32 Rue Vaveix), which renovates historic tapestries and has an art gallery that displays artistic tapestry pieces, and La Maison du Tapissier (63 Rue Vieille), a 17th-century tapestry workshop where visitors can watch a traditional weaving demonstration.
The Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie (Rue des Arts) is devoted to conserving the savoir-faire of traditional tapestry creation and supporting professional training in the craft. The center has a museum that contains tapestries from the 15th century to the present day, including many 17th-century masterpieces.
Designated a Ville d'Art et d'Histoire (City of Art and History), the capital city of Limousin has a rich cultural heritage. The Cathédrale Saint-Etienne is the most important monument in Limoges and its only Gothic building. Begun in 1273, the cathedral continued to be renovated throughout the centuries.
Behind the cathedral are the Jardins de l'Evêché (Gardens of the Bishop), and to the east is the eight-arched Pont Saint-Etienne bridge built in the 13th century.
Visitors should also stroll through the city's historic quarters along the Rue de la Boucherie and the Rue du Temple to soak up the city's old-world ambience.
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.
The Pavillon de la Porcelaine - Haviland showcases decorative porcelain dinnerware created by the Maison Haviland, a prestigious manufacturer of fine artisanal porcelain since 1842. The Pavillon de la Porcelaine - Haviland also has a boutique that sells Haviland dinnerware items.
The Musée National Adrien Dubouché highlights the beauty and variety of porcelain, the art form for which Limoges is famous. This museum displays the world's largest collection of Limoges porcelain along with pottery, faïence, and glassware.
Another aspect of the city's artistic heritage can be explored at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Limoges. In the former episcopal palace (a classified Historic Monument), the museum presents a diverse collection of fine arts and archaeological artifacts, including Gallo-Roman and ancient Egyptian objects, medieval and Renaissance painted enamels, and Impressionist paintings.
Uzerche is known as the "Pearl of Limousin," because of its beautiful historic buildings and spectacular setting on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Vézère River. This medieval fortified town has many architectural treasures, including impressive old towers, atmospheric vaulted passages, and elegant hôtels particuliers (historic mansions).
Not to be missed is the Abbatiale Saint-Pierre d'Uzerche. This magnificent Romanesque church was built in the 11th and 12th centuries. Classified as a Historic Monument, the church was an important medieval pilgrimage destination.
A great place to take a relaxing stroll is along the Esplanade de la Lunade. This pedestrian walkway overlooks the Vézère River and the wooded rolling hills surrounding the town.
During the summer, outdoor markets and cultural events draw many visitors. A medieval festival, the Jours de Fête, entertains crowds with music, circus acts, and burlesque theater in July. In August, music lovers flock to Uzerche for the Journées Musicales d'Uzerche, le MUZ' which presents a wide variety of concerts, from classical music to traditional folk ensembles and jazz.
Just outside of Uzerche, the countryside offers ample opportunities for hiking and nature walks.
4. Abbatiale Saint-Pierre Saint-Paul, Solignac
Solignac (15 kilometers away from Limoges) is home to one of the most important sights in the Limousin region, the Abbatiale Saint-Pierre Saint-Paul. This splendid Romanesque abbey, built between the 10th and 12th centuries, was a medieval pilgrimage destination on the "Way of Saint James" route to Santiago de Compostela.
Typical of Romanesque monuments, the exterior of the Saint-Pierre Saint-Paul abbey church is decorated with rounded arches and sculpted figures. The spacious domed interior features awe-inspiring 15th-century stained-glass windows and carved wooden stalls adorned with unusual details including griffins, palm leaves, and snakes.
The Saint-Pierre Saint-Paul abbey church is open to the public during summertime for guided tours on Sunday afternoons. Music concerts are sometimes held at the church.
The historic village of Solignac charms visitors with its pastel-shuttered old stone buildings and a pleasant ambience along the Briance River. Spanning the river is the 15th-century Pont-Vieux de Solignac (Old Bridge of Solignac), a graceful arched masonry bridge.
5. Château de Val
In a romantic setting, the Château de Val looks like an image from the pages of a child's storybook. The turreted castle stands on a rocky spur within the Lac de Bort-les-Orgues, one of the largest lakes in Europe.
This medieval feudal fortress, with its grandiose Gothic rooms, is one of the best places to visit to discover the ambience of another era. Unlike many French castles, the Château de Val is sumptuously furnished with period pieces, creating a good picture of what it was like to live here.
The castle's Saint-Blaise Chapel is listed as a Historical Monument. Dating to the 15th century, this Gothic chapel is found in the castle's main courtyard.
The castle grounds include a tranquil garden planted with many flowers. All around the property are quiet spots that invite visitors to commune with nature under a shady lime tree, by a fountain, or near the old stables. It's possible to take a bike ride around the estate and go fishing or boating on the Bort-les-Orgues Lake.
The Château de Val is open to the public for visits from February through early November. During July and August, the château hosts outdoor music concerts in the courtyard on Wednesday evenings.
The Château de Val also offers spacious overnight accommodations in the modernized Royal Suite, which has a fully equipped kitchen, dining area, and an outdoor terrace that overlooks the lake. Accommodations include breakfast with fresh-baked croissants.
Address: Les Fontilles, 15270 Planorbe
6. Musée d'Art Contemporain de la Haute-Vienne
The Musée d'Art Contemporain de la Haute-Vienne (Museum of Contemporary Art) is housed in the majestic Château de Rochechouart. This beautifully restored late Gothic and Renaissance castle is nestled between the Graine and Vayres valleys.
The museum's collection is devoted to 20th- and 21st-century art. On display are over 300 works created from the 1960s to the present day. Other highlights include the assortment of 2,000 decorative arts objects, as well as unique commissioned pieces.
Equally noteworthy are the artworks found on the walls of the château, especially the 16th-century frescoes in the Salle des Chasses (depicting hunting scenes) and the Galerie d'Hercule (illustrating the labors of Greek mythological figure Hercules).
Address: Place du Château, 87600 Rochechouart
Official site: https://www.musee-rochechouart.com/index.php/en/
7. Parc Naturel Régional de Millevaches en Limousin
The Parc Naturel Régional de Millevaches en Limousin is a paradise of deep green forests, gently rolling hills, sheltered valleys, grassy meadows, and peaceful lakes. The regional park, which encompasses the Plateau de Millevaches, has freshwater rivers and streams that are home to river otters.
The Millevaches Regional Natural Park is dotted with charming small hamlets and traversed by scenic trails. Hikers will enjoy the diverse landscape, from heathlands and oak groves to pastures where the famous Limousin cows graze.
Besides hiking and biking, other popular outdoor activities are boating, fishing, and cycling. Overnight travelers can stay at camp sites or other accommodations in the park.
This quaint medieval town has a well-preserved historic center. Wandering through the town's cobblestone streets and narrow alleys takes visitors back in time. Much of the town has not changed since the Middle Ages.
The Quartier de Noblat riverside district is especially atmospheric with its old mills and 13th-century bridge. Tourists can arrive here by taking the Chemin du Pavé pedestrian path. This charming area is a delightful place for a stroll.
Not to be missed, the town's Romanesque collegiate church is a splendid UNESCO-listed monument. The Collégiale de Saint-Léonard (dating to the 11th and 12th centuries) was a stop on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail.
Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat is also known for its gastronomy. During July, the Fête de la Saint Martial, a traditional market of regional food products, is held at the place Saint-Martial by the Vienne River.
Those with a sweet tooth should try the local specialty called "Massepain de Saint-Léonard," a little almond cookie that is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The recipe has a Mediterranean origin and was brought to the town by pilgrims returning from Saint-Jacques de Compostela in Spain.
Collonges-la-Rouge is a picture-perfect hamlet listed as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France (Most Beautiful Villages of France). Nestled among meadows and walnut orchards, the village is a picturesque cluster of cobblestone streets, pedestrian alleyways, and old turreted buildings.
Most of the town's buildings are constructed from red sandstone and date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. These unusual rosy-hued cottages, houses, and noblemen's mansions make this town incomparable to any other in France. Wisteria and grape vines trim many buildings, adding to the charm.
Another must-see attraction in Collonges-la-Rouge is the Eglise Saint-Pierre, built in the 11th and 12th centuries. This exquisite Romanesque church was visited by medieval pilgrims on the "Way of Saint James" trail to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The church features an ornately sculpted tympanum and a gabled steeple.
Listed as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, Curemonte sits on top of a rocky mount presiding over two valleys. Three medieval castles dominate the townscape, with impressive towers that are visible from far in the distance.
The village's perfectly preserved squares and buildings make it popular as a filming location for movie sets. Surrounded by a lush natural landscape, the village gives the impression of being untouched by the modern world.
Curemonte boasts a 12th-century Romanesque church, the Eglise Saint-Barthélemy, as well as two other historic churches.
At the 14th-century Château Saint-Hilaire, the author Colette wrote, Journal à Rebours.
Another one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, Mortemart is a charming village with lovely architecture. Stately noblemen's mansions reflect the town's wealthy heritage.
Two historic convents dazzle visitors: a 14th-century Carmelite convent, the Couvent des Carmes, and the Eglise Saint-Hilaire, a humble little chapel in an Augustinian convent.
The town was built up around a 10th-century castle, the Château des Ducs, which was home to the Dukes of Mortemart. Although it is mostly in ruins, the tower and a few rooms have survived. Temporary exhibits are held within these remaining rooms.
In the center of the city is an old covered hall that is still a hub for weekly markets, where farmers sell fresh fruits, vegetables, and other local products to villagers.
Ségur-le-Château is yet another one of the region's Plus Beaux Villages de France. The village is nestled in a spot that was favored by the Viscounts of Limoges because of its safety from invasions. History is felt at every corner of the village.
Visitors will enjoy wandering the ancient narrow lanes to admire handsome half-timbered houses and turreted noblemen's mansions.
On a sunny day, it's pleasant to go for a scenic stroll along Les Bords de l'Auvézère, a tree-shaded riverside path. This is a popular place for locals to go for a walk, relax on the park benches, or enjoy a picnic.
Where to Stay in Limousin for Sightseeing
We recommend these highly rated hotels in charming Limousin towns like Aubusson, Uzerche, and Limoges:
- Hotel Joyet de Maubec: Located in Uzerche and set in a heritage building, this property offers stylish decor and personalized service.
- Best Western Plus Hotel Richelieu: This mid-range Limoges hotel features comfortable beds, secure parking, and helpful front desk staff.
- La Beauze: Set in a 19th-century mansion, this 3-star Aubusson hotel comes with modern decor, charming hosts, and free parking.
- ibis Limoges Centre: For budget-friendly rates and a handy location, check out this property, with sleek decor and multilingual staff.