Based in the south-west of Corrèze, the welcoming and charming town of Brive-la-Gaillarde hosts the famous market that Georges Brassens sang about… Three times a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning, the centre for gastronomy that is Brive market enables locals and visitors to stock up on delicious regional produce. Fans of foie gras and truffles should note that the Georges Brassens market hall hosts several food fairs in November and February. They are very popular and provide shoppers with a good way to prepare for the festive season!
Particularly loved by foodies and gourmets, the town is also a delight for architecture and culture enthusiasts. At the very heart of the historic centre, you can see the Collegiate Church of St. Martin, a listed Historic Monument, and its Neo-Romanesque bell tower. Built from the 12th century onwards on relics dating back to the 5th century, then remodelled several times over the course of history, the church was described as remarkable by the famous architect Viollet-le-Duc. While the transept, part of the chevet and the beautiful capitals adorned with narrative scenes are a reminder of the Romanesque era, the archaeological crypt houses Merovingian and Carolingian remains from the previous buildings, as well as sarcophagi from the 6th and 7th centuries.
A few streets away, you can admire the Labenche mansion and its beautiful mullioned windows crowned by sculpted busts. Built in the 16th century by Jean II de Calvimont, Lord of Labenche, this magnificent Renaissance mansion now houses Brive Museum of Art and History. The exhibition rooms on the first floor are devoted to the history of Brive and its region from Prehistory to the present day, while those on the second floor are dedicated to the arts and popular traditions of the Brive area as well as natural sciences. Among its rich collections, you will not only see sumptuous 17th-century tapestries from the Mortlake Manufactory in England, but also stuffed animal specimens, seals, coins, archaeological remains and ethnographic objects.
As you stroll along the shopping streets in the old town, you will come across other remarkable houses, like the Quinhart mansion, Place Latreille, an elegant 15th-century building boasting an octagonal tower and a pepperpot turret; the Échevins tower, a remainder of a Renaissance home decorated with fine sculptures; the 16th-century Treilhard house and its polygonal tower flanked by a turret; and the 17th-century Cavaignac house, the former Clarisses convent that has become the headquarters of Corrèze Archaeological Society.
When it comes to events, reading fans won't want to miss the famous Brive Book Fair that takes place every year in November. France's second biggest literary festival after the Paris Book Fair, this important gathering is also where the prestigious French Language Prize (Prix de la langue française) is awarded.