only 30 minutes drive from Les Chênes, is the administrative capital of the Haute Vienne department (87). It was founded by the Romans under emperor Augustus. Limoges is located on a hill overlooking the river Vienne, the valley of which is dominated by Saint-Etienne cathedral, construction of which began in 1273 and finished 1888. There is an interesting monthly flea market in the surrounds of the cathedral, held on 2nd Sunday of every month.
In 1768, kaolin, an essential clay to obtain ceramics comparable to Chinese porcelain, was discovered near Limoges. Interestingly, the predominant part of Les Chênes was originally a kaolin works, and there are the ruins of some of the original buildings in the surrounding woods.
The Limoges central market hall was built between 1885 and 1889. It is a remarkable example of 19th century architecture. Open Monday through Saturday from 6am to 2pm and Sundays from 7am to 1pm. Just below the market is the old butcher's town with its timber framed buildings, there are many small restaurants and antique shops in this area, as well as the tiny chapel of Saint-Aurélien which was built in 1471 to house the relics of the butchers' patron saint.
Another Limoges landmark is the famous railway station designed by Roger Gonthier, on a spot where an old Benedictine convent used to be. The people of Limoges are extremely proud of their station. Its massive 31 metre high copper dome and adjoining 61 metre clock-tower and Art-Deco stained glass windows, have been watching over Limoges since 1929.
The tourist office in Limoges is a wealth of local information and is worth a visit. The staff there all speak English and are most helpful as is their web site http://www.limoges-tourisme.com/en/