Limoges is living history
Visiting Limoges is living history. Founded by the Romans, it has been an important commercial and trading hub in central southwest France for millennia. Renowned for its creativity and industry - its enamellists have been recording history for centuries – and today you can almost sense its story as you walk its streets and cross the Vienne river.
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The pedestrianised streets around the Place de Motte are liberally scattered with appealing little boutique shops. A covered market runs daily in the square itself and sells everything from fresh vegetables to locally produced saucisson, while the gourmet grocer at Paroles de Chef (17 place de la République) is sure to get foodies’ pulses racing. Limoges porcelain is, of course, the city’s most famous export, and Boulevard Louis Blanc has the widest range of porcelain shops. You can also pick up gorgeous objets d’art at jewellery boutique Alibabeth et les 40 Couleurs (25-27 rue de la Boucherie) and interior design boutique Cubic (22 rue du Consulat).
Food & Drink
Sometimes called the ‘city of butchers’, Limoges has developed a cuisine that revolves largely around meat of all varieties. The city’s streets throng with cosy brasseries where you can enjoy glorious country cooking – try the braised beef at Table de Jean (5 rue de la Boucherie) or tuck into a meal of horse steak at Chez Alphonse (5 place de la Motte) for a taste of what the chefs here can do with a simple hunk of meat. Planetalis (16 rue de la Terrasse) caters for vegetarians with a scrumptious range of organic health food, while Amphitryon (26 rue de la Boucherie) has won a Michelin star for its delectable Mediterranean-influenced dishes.
Tous à l’Opéra
This national festival is celebrated enthusiastically in Limoges, and every year L’Opéra-Théâtre de Limoges hosts a weekend of activities, behind-the-scenes tours and free shows designed to give visitors a wider insight into the world of opera.
Now entering its second decade, this popular street art festival attracts crowds of more than 200,000 every year. The aim is to take ordinary public places such as streets, squares, lawns and fountains, and turn them into free-to-view art installations.
Cuivres en Fête
This popular celebration of brass music centres on the Opéra-Théâtre and on the bandstand at the Jardin d’Orsay. It’s one of the biggest festivals of its kind in France, attracting leading brass musicians from all over the world. The programme includes concerts, street music, jams and dances as well as showcases for up-and-coming musicians.
Les Francophonies en Limousin
Dating back to 1984, Les Francophonies en Limousin is a general celebration of French-speaking culture. The festival is an umbrella for everything from visual arts, dance and theatre to French-language music and literature.
La Frairie des Petits Ventres
Limoges is famous for its butchers, and this day-long festival celebrates all the meat products you won’t find in the supermarket. Discover local specialities such as blood sausage sandwiches, chestnut pie and lamb testicles – then see the day conclude with a religious procession around the Rue de la Boucherie.
From classic French townhouses tucked away down cobbled alleyways to luxury international chains, Limoges has a wide range of accommodation. Stately Castel Faugeras (3 allée De Faugeras) makes the perfect base for an extended stay – an 18th-century chateau on the outskirts of the city, it sits in several hectares of undulating parkland and offers guests the use of a Jacuzzi, hammam and tennis court. A more central option is the Hôtel Mercure Royal Limousin (Place de La République) – a modern, marble-heavy chain within walking distance of the Opéra-Théâtre and historic districts. Inter Hotel Arion (30 rue Frédéric Bastiat) is a little further from the centre, but its pocket-friendly prices make it a good budget option.