Despite its decidedly small size, the French region of Limousin is as charming, delightful and relaxing as the name suggests, even though it might not represent the kind of luxury that limousines – as in motor vehicles – have come to suggest. It is composed of three departments, each with its own capital, extending over a landscape that varies in height between 200 meters and 1000 meters. Such mountainous scenery also explains why this little province is home to a famous breed of beef cattle as well as an attraction point for hiking enthusiasts. At 977 m, Mont Bessou, towering over the town of Ussel in Corrèze, one of the three departments, is the maximum altitude reached in Limousin, as well as the tallest peak in the Plateau de Millevaches, which literally translates as “Plateau of Thousands of Cows”.
The most important urban agglomeration in this region is concentrated around the town of Limoges, capital to the Haute-Vienne department. It is home to about 300,000 people, half of which actually live in the city and the other half in the areas around it. This is also where most employment opportunities and professionals converge – understandable given how sparse the population is in the rest of the region. Those who do live there are an interesting mix of French people, generally locals, and British and Dutch immigrants who came here seeking – and arguably finding – a place of rest and quiet. Other urban settlements of note are the town of Guéret, capital to the third department, Creuse, Brive la Gaillarde,second largest city in Limousine, inhabited by roughly fifty thousand residents, as well as Tulle and Aubusson, miniature towns that still retain the charm of rural markets.
Those with an interest in history would also find plenty of attractions in Limousine, in particular in Limoges, which was first established as a city by the Romans. Its location between Paris and Toulouse has led to it becoming a famous artistic and cultural landmark in the region, gaining fame as early as during the Middle Ages. Much later, around the XIX century, both its notoriety and its economic development were due to their manufacturing of high-quality porcelain, a product that is indeed as luxe as the renowned limousine motor vehicles.
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Author: Jean-Claude Serre