Limoges in Limousin is a pretty historical city known for its porcelain and enamels.
The Romans first founded Limoges around 10BC before it was evangelised by St Martial in the 3rd century and became an artistic centre, just as it is today, by the 11th century. With the construction of the abbey of St Martial in the 9th century, art flourished here, especially music which was taught at the St Martial school, centred around the abbey. The city was the site of a battle known as the Massacre of Limoges during the Hundred Years War and existed as a town and separate château that encompassed the abbey before the two parts were finally united as the city of Limoges in the late 18th century. After this unification and the discovery of kaolite nearby (a mineral rich in clay), Limoges became prosperous from its porcelain and enamels. This heritage can be explored in the National Porcelain Museum and the Fine Art Museum in Limoge, which has a room dedicated to enamels. There is also a Museum of the Resistance dedicated to the history of life in France from the declaration of war until after the liberation.
Interesting architecture abounds in Limoges - from the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre to the Art Deco train station created in 1929, and from the crypt of the abbey of St Martial that survived despite the destruction of the abbey itself in the Revolution, to the Gothic cathedral that took 6 centuries to build between the 1200s and 1800s. Other places to visit around the city are the bridges of St Martial and St Etienne, the town hall and its beautiful fountain made of pink granite, bronze and porcelain, and the traditional 13th century Rue de la Boucherie, (butchers street), with the wonderful Chapelle St Aurelian built in honour of the patron saint of butchers at its end. On this street you'll find the Frairie des Petits Ventres on every third Friday of October, a traditional food festival celebrating local produce. The city also hosts a street festival called Urbaka, a carnival in March and several summertime exhibitions for artists and artisans.
Children and adults alike will find entertainment at Limoge's Aquarium and the adventure parks of Royal Kids and Tarz'en Arbre, both located just outside of the city. There is plenty of open space in Limoges itself with 50 square metres of green space per inhabitant - that's over 200,000 trees and 400,000 flowers in the wonderful public gardens. The botanical garden and the Evêché gardens are the outdoor treasures inside Limoges whilst the Bastide wood is a 78 hectare woodland with fitness and walking trails that is the city's green lungs. If you're more interested in the water, then why not go canoeing on the river? Limoges has some great shopping for those interested in home decor and antiques with several excellent antiques shops and antiquarian booksellers near the cathedral and the Boulevard Louis Blanc, known locally as Porcelain Boulevard is where you'll find contemporary and classical creations - whether you're looking for everyday or luxury items. The flea market in the cathedral district every second Sunday of each month is great for hunting out an antiques bargain. There are also lots of fashion boutiques and a covered market where you can find the local specialities - milk-fed veal, cul noir pork, baronet lamb and Limousin beef as well as the famous Limousin apples, a variety of Golden Delicious with a distinctive pink sheen.
Holidays in France
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