Guéret in Limousin is a large market town surrounded by the stunning hills of the Monts de Guéret and the Forest of Chambrières.
The capital of the Creuse department, Guéret still has the quaint and intimate feel of a rural market town - which it is! Formerly the feudal capital of the ancient La Marche province, Guéret grew up around a 7th century abbey, built at the foothills of the Monts de Guéret, and became a flourishing market town and the centre of agricultural co-operatives in the local area with the arrival of the railway. The town's architecture dates from several periods with the 15th century Gothic Hotel de Moneyroux, the most beautiful building in town, which is home to the General Council of Creuse, the church of St Pierre and St Paul, a pretty 13th century construction and the Presidial, a 17th century building now the town hall and archives, all worth a look whilst meandering through the town. Don't miss a visit to the Museum of Arts and Archaeology - run by the Society of Archaeological and Natural Sciences of the Creuse and created in 1832, it contains hundreds of stuffed animals from around the world, local excavation finds from Gallo-Roman and Celtic times, a collection of Dutch, Flemish and French 15th to 19th century paintings and a room of Asian art from the same period. Outside this excellent museum are the beautiful gardens of Ferdinand Villard, a great place for a peaceful stroll.
The Monts de Guéret are perfect for mountain biking with 30 marked trails totalling 696km running through and winding up the hills to nearly 700m. The trails are of varying diificulty with something for every ability. In the verdant forest of Chambrières that covers the Monts, you'll discover wolves living in semi-liberty in the large enclosures of Les Loups de Chambrières, an important site for the protection of the species. You'll also find the remains of ancient human occupation with hermitages amongst the chaos of rocks and down in the Gartempe valley exists natural monoliths, ancient laundries and stone bridges just waiting to be found as you explore the streams and waterfalls in this area of legends. Trout fishing is also popular in this area. Just outside of town is the Labyrinthe Géant, the world's largest permanent maze stretching 4.5km through the green hedges and walkways and is perfect for a family day out.
As a market town Guéret, of course, has an excellent local food market, full of fresh produce from the farms in the surrounding area and is on a Thursday and Saturday morning. In the centre, the shopping area is pedestrianised and has a mixture of old and new shops. Guéret cuisine is good, simple, rustic fare with a local speciality of potato paté, a pie filled with potato, bacon or smoked ham and herbs. Other common ingredients are mushrooms, chestnuts and trout caught in the nearby rivers, all best sampled with some Limousin wine.
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