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Running in Limoges: capital of the Limousin region

Set in the foothills of the Massif Central, Limoges is a dynamic city where life is good. While its fame is mainly due to porcelain, Limoges also boasts a varied heritage rich in surprises, born of over 2000 years of history. City of art and history, capital of the arts of fire, Unesco Creative City, Limoges is brimming with treasures that will leave no one indifferent. Let yourself be guided through the streets of the Limousin city, thanks to the sports and tourist trails offered by the city!


Vue de Limoges et de la cathédrale Saint-Etienne
View of Limoges and Saint-Etienne Cathedral

The second most populous city in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region behind Bordeaux, Limoges is nonetheless a natural city. Situated on the banks of the Vienne river, the city boasts numerous green spaces and gardens, and is surrounded by a rural area devoid of intensive livestock farming and cultivation.


But Limoges is also a city of gastronomy, rich in generous and varied local cuisine, starting with the famous Limousin beef. Limoges specialties are showcased every year at a major gastronomic festival: the Frairie des Petits Ventres. It's a culinary rendezvous that reflects the people of the Limousin capital: gourmet and friendly.


Historic hearts


Founded by the Romans around 10 B.C. as Augustoritum, Limoges is based on two historic cores: the Ville Haute (Upper Town), formerly the district of the viscounts and the Château Saint-Martial, and the Cité (City), subject to the bishop and built around the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne. The château and the Cité were reunited following the French Revolution in 1792, officially forming a single commune.


Your stroll through the town center will take you to discover these two historic cores and the remarkable monuments and landmarks that line their streets. In the upper town, take in the Cour du Temple with its magnificent timber-framed townhouses and splendid granite arcades. You'll also see the paving stones made from shards of "gazette", the clay "boxes" used to protect pieces of porcelain during firing, which form the pavement of the Cour du Temple and other streets in central Limoges. Remains from the Middle Ages are mixed with classical and modern buildings, such as the Halles centrales, which you can see on your walk. Erected on the site of the Viscount of Limoges' former castle at the end of the 19th century, the Halles is home to a large market and several restaurants. This majestic building has been listed as a historic monument since 1976.


Gare de Limoges-Bénédictins
Limoges-Bénédictins station

Not to be outdone, the Cité district is home to the imposing Saint-Etienne Cathedral and the splendid Jardins de l'Évêché. The cathedral, which took nearly six centuries to build, is one of Limoges' most emblematic monuments. Take time out to admire the finesse of the Saint-Jean portal or the splendid sculptures adorning the rood screen. Adjacent to the cathedral, the Jardins de l'Évêché offer a moment of serenity and a superb view of the river Vienne and the Pont Saint-Etienne. Your visit to Limoges would not be complete without a visit to the famous Limoges-Bénédictins train station, one of the most beautiful in France. With its blend of Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, its bell tower, hall and cupola, it's a must-see in the city.


Capital of the arts of fire


It's impossible to talk about Limoges without mentioning its famous porcelain. Born in the 18th century following the discovery of kaolin in the region (a white clay necessary for the manufacture of this hard, translucent ceramic), Limoges porcelain experienced its golden age in the 19th century and today enjoys international renown. Many prestigious factories were established in Limoges during this period: Haviland, Bernardaud, Alluaud, Royal Limoges... Some are still in operation today. Take a stroll and marvel at the porcelain masterpieces adorning the facades of the town houses, the fountains and the Halles centrales. If you're interested in the subject, don't hesitate to stop off at the Adrien Dubouché Museum, which boasts the world's richest collection of Limoges porcelain.


Porcelaine de Limoges
Limoges porcelain

In addition to porcelain, Limoges is also renowned for its enamel and stained glass. In the Middle Ages, pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela flocked to admire the Saint-Martial abbey and its enamels. Although the enamel craze waned during the Renaissance, it was revived in the 19th century, thanks to the Art Deco movement. The Musée des Beaux-Arts is a must-see when discovering the city, with its exceptional collection of enamels dating from the Middle Ages to the present day. The art of stained glass also developed in medieval times, notably with religious buildings and the emergence of Gothic art, and found a new lease of life with Art Nouveau and Art Deco in the early 20th century. You can see the work of master glassmakers in many of the town's churches, as well as at the Pavillon du Verdurier and the railway station.


Along the Vienne river


Pont Saint-Etienne
Saint-Etienne bridge

With its rich historical and cultural heritage, Limoges is also the ideal place for nature lovers. The city has been awarded 4 flowers in the Villes et villages fleuris de France competition for its extensive natural heritage. For a breath of fresh air, take the Bords de Vienne trail, which takes you through the many parks and gardens along the river. Don't miss the lovely Jardin Nadalon, part of which is located on the Île aux oiseaux, a remnant of the Nadalon et Pénicaut shoe heel factory.


With the Vienne River running through Limoges, the city's inhabitants have had to cross the river for centuries. Several bridges have been built over the centuries to link the historic city center with the districts on the left bank. These include the Pont Saint-Etienne and the Pont Saint-Martial, the city's only two medieval bridges, entirely paved and totally pedestrianized. For decades, the residents of the bridge district, known as the Ponticauds, have been organizing a bridge festival to mark St. John's Day.



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