HOLIDAY IN FRANCE
LE CHARDON AND LA PORCHERIE GITE
The gites stand at the gateway to the Monts and Barrages (mountains and dams) in the Department of Haute-Vienne in the area of Limousin which is in the Region of Nouvelle-Acquitaine.
Le Chardon and La Porcherie are located within The Millevaches Plateau Regional Natural Park which derives its name from the abundance of natural springs (not the Plateau of the thousand cows as most people think, but actually it comes from the Celtic 'mil batz' - a thousand springs!) With its gorges, valleys, meadows, forests and mountains all beautifully interlaced with streams and rivers and dotted with lakes the Millevaches Plateau is an area of outstanding natural beauty and tranquility.
There is little that the region does not offer. The landscape lends itself naturally to many 'countryside' pastimes such as horse-riding, hiking, mushroom hunting (in season), 4 x 4 and motorbike off-roading, or mountain biking. Water sports abound in this region, which after all is rightly known as the lake district of France!
A trip through the gorges of the Vienne in a train drawn by a steam engine, is an experience not to be missed.
EXPERIENCE THE LIMOUSIN
Relax on the beaches of Lac de St. Helene or Lac de Vassiviere, just 2 of the many lakes in the area.
Lac de St Helene, only five minutes drive from the gites, is typical of many such lakes in this area. You will find a small well kept beach from which to swim in safety under the watchful gaze of a lifeguard, a restaurant and childrens play park. A separate area of the lake is dedicated to those more adventurous types for water skiing.
The Lac de Vassiviere (about 40 minutes drive) offers not only beaches, swimming, canoeing, and water skiing, but there is an island in the middle with a chateau and gardens housing a small menagerie. There is also an exhibition centre which hosts art shows throughout the year. Permanent sculptures adorn the gardens.
For more leisurely pursuits, fish in one of the regions many lakes and rivers or take in the flora and fauna on the hiking and horse riding trails. For the more active holiday maker there are plenty of mountain biking trails, motorbike off roading as well as watersports such a canoeing and water skiing.
For the very adventurous there is D'Arbre en Arbre, a great place to spend some adrenalin time! D'Arbre en Arbre is a fantastic way to while away a few hours doing your best Tarzan impression! From easy 'green run' clambering over the obstacles, through the 'brown run' Tyrolean zip lines to the scary scary 'black run' there is something for everyone from the biggest scaredy cat to real adrenalin junkies!
DISCOVER THE ARTS AND CRAFTS
The region is a perfect place for artists and art-lovers of all genres. The Limousin has played host to many famous painters from Claude Monet to Armand Guillaumin and lovers of painting or photography will find much to inspire them.
Limoges is the birthplace of Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) and the Musee de l'Eveche houses a permanent display of his paintings. In 1889, Claude Monet visited the Creuse area of the Limousin and produced 23 paintings. Paul Reyberolle (1926-2005) was born in Eymoutier where he has his own museum "Espace Paul Rebeyrolle".
There is also a rich history in porcelain and enameling for which the region is famed and also tapestries, weaving and stained glass making.
There are numerous museums, galleries and exhibitions to cater to all tastes and interests: stained glassmaking, porcelain, enamel, tapestries, weaving and paper making. The list is almost endless.
The gites are only 35 minutes drive from the city of Limoges, the capital of Limousin with it’s beautiful cathedral and interesting history including underground tunnels thought to have been built by the Romans and used by the resistance during WWII.
There are numerous attractions in Limoges from restaurants, cafes, shops and museums, beautiful gardens, aquarium, bowling, golf – another endless list..
THE LEGACY OF WWII
France paid a heavy toll during the Second World War, and the Limousin itself paid dearly. With an extremely active Resistance working in the area it was perhaps inevitable that the Germans would leave their mark. With museums in both Limoges and nearby Peyrat-le-Chateau the local history of the Maquis can be seen, but the most compelling and moving experience is a visit to Oradur-sur-Glane (about an hour away). Here virtually the entire town was massacred by the German troops in just one day in June 1944. The remnants of the village have been left as a reminder and a memorial has been built, along with a visitors centre, which holds many artifacts from the old town and where you can see photographs and films which tell the story of the victims and the handful of survivors.
INVESTIGATE THE RICH HISTORY
History lovers will find much of interest. The countryside is dotted with antiquities from dolmens to castles, manors, abbeys and churches (many of which date from the 11th century onwards).
Our local medieval town of St Leonard de Noblat is situated on the banks of the lovely river Vienne and is only 15 minutes away. Where you will find supermarkets, shops, cafes and a weekly market.
St Leonard de Noblat is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as it is on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella and the emblematic shell of St Jaques (scallop) can be found set into the roads and pavements of its streets. 2010 was declared a Holy Year for the pilgrimage and completion of the route gains a Plenary Indulgence (a remission of punishment for sins already committed!) - Something that in a normal year is only granted if you die en route!
The church, parts of which are from the 11th century, holds the tomb of St. Leonard who was a 6th century hermit and is the patron saint of prisoners and pregnant women. It is said - if single women dare to touch the lock on Saint Leonard’s chain above his tomb - apparently they will soon be blessed with a husband and children!
Limoges was once the capital of France. It was founded by the Romans (circa 10 BC) and occupied by Edward the Black Prince in 1370. Visit the imposing Gothic Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges), begun in 1273 and only finished in 1888 and, to the north-west of the city, the medieval butchers’ quarter with its compact, timber-framed buildings and the tiny chapel dedicated to Saint Aurélien. Several houses still have their 19th-century shop fronts. One of them, the Maison de la Boucherie now serves as a small museum about the area and its bloody trade.
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