Limoges is a historian’s paradise and a place of pilgrimage for lovers of fine art. Located on the banks of the Vienne, this venerable center of architecture, art and sculpture was founded by the Romans in 10BC, and developed into a flourishing hotspot of creativity under the Normans. Today, Limoges is one of the best places to observe two millennia of history conserved in the form of cathedrals, bridges and finely detailed ceramics.
The surrounding area is scattered with Roman ruins, while the city itself can be entered over the Saint Martial Bridge, also built by the empire of the Eternal City. Once inside, visitors will spend their time winding through a maze of cobblestoned streets unchanged since the Middle Ages. The ruins of Saint Martial Abbey and its crypts are worth exploring, as is the Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges, begun in 1273, yet only finished in 1888. Striking Renaissance era art characterizes the cathedral’s interior, while sculpted scenes of the Apocalypse will make your hair stand on end.
The city’s botanical gardens offer a colorful alternative to all the historical intrigue, and include the acclaimed Jardin botanique de l’Evêché. Furthermore, over half of all of France’s porcelain is made in Limoges and the city is packed with finely detailed china suitable for souvenirs, or to simply admire.
While Limoges is a year-round city, some of the best attractions happen between June and August. The city’s summer season begins with themed exhibitions in the various public gardens, while Urb’aka, a free and highly popular festival of street arts, is held in mid-June. Young people are celebrated with the City Day in early July when an event dedicated to youth culture showcases contemporary music ranging from hip-hop to dance. Open air film shows and a variety of fetes are held throughout July and August, while an opera festival runs in late August.
The summer soiree concludes at the end of August with a range of Latin American Dance days. For visitors arriving outside of the busy season, September sees the city hosting European Heritage Days designed to promote local art and culture. November and December are characterised by seasonal music events, while the city itself is worth seeing when resplendent in all its Christmas fineries.