Capital of porcelain and of the Limousin region, the city of Limoges has preserved beautiful evidence of its over 2,000-year-old history.
Key monument of the city, the Saint-Etienne cathedral is a remarkable example of Gothic art. Of particular interest for visitors are the north portal of Flamboyant Gothic style, the Renaissance rood screen and the three tombs of the chancel.
Next to the cathedral, the gardens of the Bishop's palace spread out as magnificent terraces overlooking the River Vienne. A great place for a stroll and to admire the numerous plants of the botanical garden.
Adjoining the gardens, the Diocese municipal museum, located in the former Bishop's palace, is home to collections of Limousin enamels and Impressionist paintings.
Next stop are the streets of Limoges old town, in particular the Boucherie street, which offers a really picturesque setting with its charming Saint-Aurélien chapel dating from the 15th century and its old timber-framed houses. In the old days, numerous meat stalls used to fill this street. Today, the Butcher traditional house is open to visitors from July to September, and evokes the butchers' corporation of the Middle Ages. Every third Friday of October, the Boucherie street is home to an important gastronomic festival, the “Frairie des Petits Ventres”, during which the specialties of Limousin are presented. A culinary meeting not to be missed!
Close by, the Motte square is overlooked by the typically Limousin bell tower of the church Saint-Michel-des-Lions, and is particularly pleasant and lively with its café terraces. On this square, you can also admire beautiful covered market hall of the 19th century, decorated with a porcelain frieze, which are home to a market of local products.
To enjoy a magnificent view of the cathedral and the picturesque Saint-Etienne bridge spanning the Vienne River, walkers should go to the bank opposite to the old town.
Located in the heart of the region of Aquitaine, in the department of Haute-Vienne, Limoges is now the second most populated city behind Bordeaux. Nicknamed the red city or the Rome of socialism because of its tradition of votes to the left, the municipality was also recognized city of Art and History in the late 2000s.
Limoges, which takes place on the first foothills of the Massif Central, takes its name from the Lémovices, a tribe settled there during the Roman conquest. The ancient Augustoritum became Limoges only at the beginning of the 6th century, before becoming a great city of Aquitaine from the twelfth century. Becoming a French town in the 16th century, it was strongly affected by the Counter-reform of the 17th century, before experiencing a major industrial boom in the 19th century.
Nowadays, as a major tourist destination, the capital of porcelain highlights not only its architectural and cultural heritage, but also its exceptional natural sites. The city has also put in place an important campaign to renovate its most important sites.
Classified as Historic Monuments, the Saint-Etienne cathedral is located in the heart of the old quarter of the city. Gothic style radiating and flamboyant, it was built in the thirteenth century and saw its works extend until the XIXe century. Inside, one can appreciate the magnificent tomb of Bishop Jean de Langeac covered with sculptures of the Apocalypse inspired by the work of Dürer. In some chapels of the building are some paintings from the medieval period. The gardens of the Évêché, located not far away, extend as far as the Vienne to offer a very pleasant walk. Next to it, the old episcopal palace hosts a municipal museum rich in Impressionist collections, as well as Limousin enamels.
A fine example of a church-hall in the Plantagenet estate, the church of Saint-Michel-des-Lions, in Gothic style, owes its name to two Gallo-Roman lions who guard its entrance. Classified as Historic Monuments, it reveals a bell tower typical of the Limousin style, surmounted by a strange metallic ball. One can see in its interior stained glass windows and Pietàs of the 15th century, as well as a statue of Saint Valerie dating from the same time. Opposite, the market halls of the nineteenth century still shelter a market of the terroir, and have on their facade an interesting frieze in porcelain.
In the old town of Limoges, you will appreciate the half-timbered houses, as well as the chapel Saint-Aurélien dating from the 15th century. It houses the relics of Saint Aurelian, the patron of the butchers. From July to September, you can visit the house of the Boucherie which testifies of the activities of this corporation in the Middle Ages. The town also unveils beautiful mansions, such as that of Estienne de la Rivière (19th century) or that of Maledent de Feytiat, a 17th century building listed in the Historic Monuments.
Classified as Historic Monuments, the former Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Martial was an important place in art, law, science or technology in medieval times. Built in the IXth century on an ancient Gallo-Roman site, it houses a crypt welcoming the relics of Saint Martial and Saint Valerie.
The architecture of Limoges is not lacking in charm, as evidenced by the remarkable places of the city. You will be seduced by the red brick buildings of the place Denis-Dussoubs, or by the courtyard of the Temple and its mansions of the seventeenth century. One can admire Italian galleries and Renaissance staircases.
Several museums are also present as the Adrien Dubouché Museum on porcelain, earthenware or glass, the Museum of Fine Arts, or the Resistance which reveals the history of the Second World War in Haute-Vienne.
The town of Limoges has a significant natural heritage and is awarded four flowers in the Contest of Flower Towns and Villages in France. Be sure to visit the Jardin d'Orsay, the oldest green space in the city, to admire the vestiges of a Gallo-Roman amphitheater, a playground and a botanical garden. The Champ de Juillet and its statues, the Victor-Thuillat park and its classified trees, or the park of Auzette and its green castle are equally remarkable.
Sixteen markets take place from Tuesday to Saturday in the morning. A Christmas market is held in December. An artists' market takes place at the beginning of September.
Every two years, the contemporary dance biennial of Limoges unveils its shows in January. The next edition will take place in 2018.
A popular literary festival, Reading at Limoges is organized between the end of March and the beginning of April. Ranked among the ten biggest literary events in France, it offers dedications, meetings and other conferences.
In May, the festival Coquelicontes offers shows and readings in its various libraries.
Every year in June and September, the different green spaces of Limoges host thematic exhibitions honoring flowers and plants.
Urb'aka, a free urban festival, takes place every year in June.
The urban day takes place in the Jardin d'Orsay in July. The event proposes to discover street art, urban art, battles with many artists.
During the summer season, open-air cinema projections are offered.
Every third Friday in October, Limoges hosts a gastronomic party in the Rue de la Boucherie, the Frairie des Petits Ventres.
In November the jazz festival Eclats d'Email offers concerts.