La Souterraine is a city of the Creuse, in the Aquitaine region, 38 km north-west of Gueret.
Founded on the site of a vast Gallo-Roman villa, step on the way to Saint-Jacques, La Souterraine develops in the Middle Ages when a fortified enclosure protecting the center and its church are built by the monks of the abbey Saint-Martial from Limoges.
Commercial crossroads in the heart of a green countryside, door of the Limousin, La Souterraine passes from the duchy of Aquitaine to the generality of Limoges under the Old regime.
It is still in the 21st century a real city in the countryside, enjoying a green environment. With a population of around 5,500 inhabitants, its rich heritage and its offer of "nature" and cultural leisure make it a stage of quality before "to switch" in the country of the language of Oc.
A visit of La Souterraine can begin with the discovery of its medieval center, long protected by fortified enclosures built in the twelfth century. The city having been besieged several times, its ramparts were consolidated and even widened from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century.
Remains are still visible, the most notable being two of the 7 to 8 gates that marked this enclosure, which also had towers, but which have disappeared.
Classified Historical Monument since 1920, the Saint-Jean door adjoining a curtain reflects this period, built in the thirteenth century and raised in the fifteenth, is rectangular in shape and 25 m high. It is framed by corbelled turrets with crenellations and machicolations. There are loopholes and a walkway. Dedicated to the surveillance of the comings and goings and the approach of the city, the tower was then a prison until 1860. Free access, entered by the market place. Information on +33 5 55 63 10 06.
As for the door of Puycharraud, the fourteenth century, it is a rectangular granite building, and we note that an element of the walls is still attached. Listed since 1941, it hosts exhibitions and houses a library dedicated to English speakers.
Then head for the Church of Our Lady (also known as the Assumption of the Most Holy Virgin), which is the heritage jewel of the city. Originally, the Benedictines of Limoges establish a priory first and then they decide to build a large church. The work of the crypt began in 1017 and the church was built from the mid-twelfth century and the site ends in the thirteenth. This explains the mix of styles (novel for the most part nave, Gothic for the transept, the choir, the bell tower and the last bays of the nave). Made of granite, its thick walls and narrow windows, as well as its buttresses confer on the church a look of austere fortress.
It is observed that the white stone used for the steeple was a landmark for pilgrims. Classified as a Historical Monument since 1840, it was restored at the end of the 19th century.
In summer, the crypt hosts art exhibitions. It is open to the public on weekends in June and September, every day in July and August. The church itself is accessible every day.
To see then, in this city decidedly very rich, the chapel of the Savior, neo-gothic style, completed in 1871, and, at the cemetery, a beautiful example of "lantern of the dead" of the twelfth century, in the form of tower hollow overhung a openwork flag that could accommodate a lamp. According to tradition, this lantern guided the souls of the disappeared to "eternal rest".
Still in the city, Renaissance-style dwellings, the Château de Lezat, built in 1901, can finally be noticed before reaching the site of Bridiers, a few kilometers east of the center.
This former seat of the viscount of Bridiers has kept a tower (or dungeon) of the twelfth century and elements of an old castle (curtain wall, logis). The upper parts of the tower have been restored and from the top, where a glass floor has been laid out, the visitor enjoys a remarkable panorama. Below, a medieval garden has been renovated. His visit is very pleasant and informative (slate boards indicating the names and properties of cultivated species). Information on +33 5 55 89 23 07. Protected, the site hosts a show in August. The tower is open to the public on weekends in June and September and every day in July and August (except during shows). Price: 2 euros.
For guided tours of the city, contact +33 5 55 89 23 07.
In terms of cultural leisure, La Souterraine has a movie theater, Eden, classified Art and Essay, managed by the MJC. Information on +33 5 55 63 19 06.
As for the Yves Furet Cultural Center, it organizes concerts, dance performances and theater throughout the year. Information on +33 5 55 63 46 46.
Finally the media library Chatreix offers many activities (conferences, debates, exhibitions). Information on +33 5 55 63 36 11.
As for sports or "nature" recreation, the aquatic center of the Sostranian Country put into service in 2016 allows to combine swimming, relaxation and idleness. Information on +33 5 55 63 97 50.
As for the pond Cheix, north-east of the city, it allows to engage in mountain biking, running and canoeing.
For a game of tennis, it is advisable to reserve a court with the local club at +33 5 55 63 04 75.
Finally, many hikes are possible, including the historical or natural sites of the territory, including sometimes incursions into the surrounding countryside. Maps and information on +33 5 55 89 23 07.