300 000 passagers par an
300 km sans péage entre Vierzon et Brive
2000 ans d’histoire
3 000 nouveaux habitants par an
140 000 habitants
A landmark church due to its Limousin-style steeple decorated with a copper sphere visible throughout the city, Saint-Michel is above all the guardian of the relics of the patron saints of Limoges: Saint Martial, Saint Loup and Saint Valérie. It takes its name from the Gallo-Roman granite lions which guard its Southern entrance.
The Abbey of Saint-Martial was a major Roman basilica known throughout the land for its polyphonic hymns and illuminations, and for possessing a magnificent library to rival that of Cluny. The abbey was constructed on an ancient necropolis where archaeologists discovered several sarcophagi, attributed to Saint Martial and Saint Valérie.
Bestowed with a characteristic Limousin steeple passing from square to octagagonal, the pink granite building houses magnificent altars, golden brown wood statues and stained glass windows.
The gardens are the successor to the gardens of the Bishops’ palace, and constitute one of the jewels of Limoges, a city graded with "4 flowers" in the national towns and cities in bloom contest. Constructed on a series of terraces, the botanic gardens include:
The City Quarter
A relic of the medieval city surrounding the Bishop’s residence, it is ideal for a stroll through the winding streets (link to virtual tour) to discover:
Converted into the city’s Fine Arts Museum, the former 18th century bishop’s palace houses some impressive permanent collections:
The museum also has a temporary exhibition hall.
Gold and Enamel
These two arts developed with artists in the region during the Merovingian era. Placed under the patronage of Saint Eligius, their works of art were circulated throughout Christendom. With a fine collection of champlevé, cloisonné and painted enamel dating from the 12th to the 18th century, the Fine Arts Museum bears witness to their popularity. Today, the Maison de l’Émail offers an introduction to techniques used, while workshops allow visitors to admire and even purchase more contemporary creations.
Situated in the historic quarter of the city, Saint-Étienne cathedral dominates the urban landscape of Limoges and is one of the rare Gothic monuments south of the Loire. Founded on the remains of the ancient 11th century cathedral, the ruins of which can still be seen today, the imposing structure took more then six centuries to construct.
The lavishly decorated cathedral is adorned with sculptures dating back to the 14th and 16th centuries.
Designed by architect Roger Gonthier, this building is the present-day symbol of the city. Criticised when the building was first built, its 60-metre campanile and dome in fact make it one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful train station in France. Its lavishly decorated hall, art deco stained glass windows and elegant lines catch the attention of the travellers who pass through the station.
The banks of the Vienne, to which Limoges owes its birth and development, have now been developed for the pleasure of walkers and sports enthusiasts.
The Bridges Quarter
It was originally a passing place, a ford, as the name Augustoritum (meaning the Ford of Augustus) suggests, which encouraged the Romans to settle here.
During this era, Limoges was a city with two sides: on one side, the Castle, seat of the viscounts and the influential abbey of Saint-Martial, on the other side, the City and its bishops. Bridges were essential for both parts to facilitate trade and prosperity. During the 13th century, the Castle authorities decided to reconstruct the Saint-Martial bridge. It was built on the foundations of the Roman bridge destroyed by Henry II Plantagenet of England at the end of the 12th century. In response to this, the bishop commissioned the construction of Saint-Étienne bridge which boasted eight segmental arches, to capture a share of the commercial traffic and take pilgrims on the Road to Compostela.
The Port of Naveix and Porcelain Factories
A river port with no boats, the Naveix was vital for the reception of floating timber. At the beginning of the 19th century, the abundance of this fuel attracted porcelain manufacturers to the area, before the arrival of the railway and the use of coal changed the picture. The Four des Casseaux is the only surviving reminder of this era today. This round-shaped kiln is listed as a historical monument and is the only one of its kind in France, preserved by the oldest of the factories still in operation, Royal Limoges.
Limoges owes its city hall to the legacy of Mr. Fournier, a rich man who died without an heir. Monumental and lavishly decorated by artisans of renown, the hall is surmounted by a 43-metre high campanile. The main façade is decorated with four mosaic medallions showing illustrious men of the city: the enamel painter, Léonard Limosin, the Chancellor d’Aguesseau, the Girondin advocate, Pierre Vergniaud and the marshal, Jean-Baptiste Jourdan. A magnificent porcelain and bronze fountain, a true curiosity, has taken pride of place in front of the entrance since 1893. Decorated by the Director of the Limoges National School of Decorative Arts at that time, it draws attention to four spirits symbolising design, painting, sculpture and film.
The Old Hospital
While several impressive monuments bear witness to the political and administrative significance of the city throughout the centuries, others bear witness to the preservation of heritage through successful grants. As with the example of the old hospital which now houses the Francophone Multimedia Library, an exhibition hall (La Galerie des Hospices) and a reception hall (Augustoritum), the transformations they undergo have not affected their authentic appearance. The façade of this building has been preserved, retaining its uniqueness and fitting in elegantly with its new environment.
The Francophone Multimedia Library
Part of the former hospital, with a mosaic dating back to the Augustoritum era remaining on display, the multimedia library is linked to the French National Francophone Library. Located at Place Aimé Césaire, the library has major collections which are freely accessible.
The University of Limoges
Recently constructed, the university is shared between several outlying campuses and after the regeneration of district following major archaeological excavations, its central administration occupies the ancient Convent of the Sisters of Saint-Alexis and its chapel.
Countless monuments paying tribute to the exceptional expertise of the artisans who contributed to establishing Limoges as a city of international renown, currently known as the capital of Arts of Fire (ceramic, glass, enamel). In addition to the "official" buildings to which the city owes its quality as a regional capital, several sites, such as workshops or factory stores, show the constant evolution of the arts over time. Although most of these sites are relatively spread out, Boulevard Louis Blanc offers a wonderful glimpse of the art trades, with factory stores, porcelain design workshops, enamelers and antique dealers.
The Motte Quarter
The "upper town" takes its name from the butte or hillock on which the viscount had his keep constructed. The central covered market is located close to the site. The metallic architecture, typical of the 19th century, is decorated with a porcelain frieze counting no less than 328 panels symbolising various catering professions. It is here at Place de la Motte, where an event focused on local gastronomy and culinary arts, Toques et Porcelaine, is celebrated at the end of summer each year.
The Boucherie Quarter
Straight out of the Middle Ages, this area owes its appearance to the watchful eye of powerful butchers who were successful in preserving it. Organised as a community, they revered Saint Aurélien, to whom they dedicated a chapel to house his relics. The lavishly decorated chapel was purchased by the fraternal society and thus saved from destruction during the French Revolution.
Now frequented by artists and antique dealers, the ever-present butchers invite you to visit a typical house boasting authentic furnishings, and even to join them on one of their processions, notably at the time of the Ostensions. You are also invited to participate in the annual festival of gastronomy: La Frairie des Petits Ventres.
In the winding streets of the Middle Ages, modern town planning has replaced the streets where rival bourgeois traders competed with nobles of the robe to display their success. The entire area has retained magnificent town houses and other bourgeois buildings, amidst which the Cour du Temple offers a haven of peace with rare elegance: half-timbered buildings several storeys high resting on a granite base with archways, columns and curves.
The Royal Courthouse during the 16th century, and subsequently Palais de Justice, it was at the heart of the administration during the Ancien Régime along with the Palais de l’Intendance. It was from here that the royal intendant, Turgot, began an ambitious policy of town planning during the 18th century, aimed at making the city safer and more practicable. One of his most spectacular creations was the redevelopment of Place Dauphine, now known as Place Denis Dussoubs. Built in a circular form, it boasts several brick pavilions decorated with archways and oculi. Turgot was also behind the development of the porcelain industry in Limoges. In office when kaolin was discovered at Saint-Yrieix in 1768, he encouraged the creation of the first factory. Placed under the protection of the count of Artois, it obtained the title of Manufacture Royale in 1784.
The Palais de Justice
An example of neoclassical architecture from the end of the 19th century when classic and Greco-Roman styles were combined, the Palais de Justice sits at the top of a monumental staircase dominated by a colonnade crested with a pediment. Occupying the highest point in the city, the Garden of Orsay lies just behind it. Built on the remains of an ancient Roman amphitheatre, this relaxing area successfully changes into a "theatre" during musical events such as the Festival of Latin American Dance.
The National Adrien Dubouché museum
Founded in 1845 by a philanthropist who dedicated a portion of his fortune to building a collection retracing the history of porcelain in Limoges and more generally, the history of ceramics, the museum became a national museum in 1881, and now contains more than 12,000 items.
Around Place de la République
So-named after the revolutionary period, this area was the influential district of the "third" man of Limoges after the viscount and the bishop: the abbot of Saint-Martial. The abbey was destroyed and the area is now a lively place bordered by cafés that lay out their terraces as soon as the fine weather arrives.
Tha Former Jesuit College
Now Lycée Gay Lussac, the monumental façade of this building designed by architect Joseph Brousseau comprises two campaniles (locate on the map). The vast adjoining chapel is home to Baroque altarpieces.
The most recent of the sites to be seen in this district is an art-deco style round-shaped refrigerated storehouse. Boasting decorative stoneware and mosaics, it is now a local exhibition centre.