The Surrounding Area

There are miles of forest tracks and rambles for exploring without having to take the car, plus the area is dotted with little villages and hamlets most of which have interesting twelfth century churches. Of interest further afield there are the traditional craft centers of Limoges ceramics, Aubusson tapestry and Tulle lace.

Limoges

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/

La Jonchere Saint Maurice

is the local village with shops. It is a small, rather quaint village with a boucherie, boulangerie, pharmacie, little bar and a small general store. The village is situated about one mile from us at Les Chênes. La Jonchere also has its own website, which is in French http://www.jonchere-saint-maurice.fr/

Ambazac

the nearest town is about 10 minutes' drive from Les Chênes. It has larger shops and supermarkets, two or three bars, a very interesting church and town square. There is a regular bus service into Limoges for as little as 2 Euro. There is a 19th century chateau with extensive gardens within walking distance. Also, a good tourist office just opposite the church http://www.tourisme-ambazacbessines.fr/.

Lac Saint Pardoux

is a lakeside sandy beach, water sports and holiday centre, only 20 minutes' drive from Les Chênes. Certainly, worth the drive if you hanker for the beach. They have a website whih is in French http://www.lacsaintpardoux.fr/.

Oradour-sur-Glane

a village frozen in time to commemorate the German occupation of France in the second world war. This site is a national memorial to the horrors of war where the entire population of a village were massacred during the German occupation. The village is about 45 minutes' drive from Les Chênes it is certainly worth a visit and as a major tourist site there are several restaurants in the nearby village to take a good lunch. The website is http://www.oradour.info/ and it is in English.

Richard the Lionheart/Route


consists of nearly 180 km and 19 sites open to the public. The circuit crosses the road RD 901 and is indicated in both directions by road signs carrying the Route logo: a crowned lion with its heart pierced by an arrow, that brings to mind the tragic fate of Richard the Lionheart. See more at: http://www.tourisme-hautevienne.co.uk/node/112/