Chambres d’Hôtes & Gites
Haute-Vienne is the French department named after the river Vienne that is east of the Creuse and is one of the 12 departments that together constitute the newly formed French region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine (as of January 2016). Its neighbouring departments are: Creuse, Corrèze, Dordogne, Charente, Vienne and Indre. The principal and largest city in the department is Limoges.
The department has two main rivers which cross it from east to west; the Vienne, on which the two main cities, Limoges and Saint-Junien, are situated, and the Gartempe, a tributary of the Creuse. To the southeast of the department lies the Massif Central, and the highest point in the department is Puy Lagarde, 795 m (2,608 ft).
To the far west of the department is the Rochechouart crater, an impact crater caused by a meteorite that crashed into the earth's surface over 200 million years ago; because of subsequent erosion, little sign of the crater is in evidence today apart from the geologic effects on the surrounding rock.
A few Paleolithic and Mesolithic remains have been found in the department and Neolithic inhabitants are attested to by standing stones and by burial chambers, like the dolmen Chez Moutaud near Saint Auvent. Artefacts from the Bronze Age include axe heads found at Châlus. With the coming of the Romans, trade was opened up and gold and tin were mined. Agriculture developed and grapes were grown; amphorae for storing wine were found at Saint-Gence. During the reign of Augustus, the city of Augustoritum was founded (later to become Limoges) at a strategic ford across the Vienne. The Romans built roads from here to Brittany, Lyon and the Mediterranean. The city declined in the 3rd-century when barbarian invasions of the region took place.
The domination of the Visigoths was short-lived though and Clovis I seized control of Limousin after the battle of Vouillé in 507. By 674, the region was attached to the duchy of Aquitaine, and the Viscount of Limoges was created. There followed an unsettled period with various powers vying for control. In 1199, Richard the Lionheart was mortally wounded during the siege of the Château de Châlus-Chabrol. The region was much involved in the Hundred Years' War and at the Treaty of Brétigny in 1360, France granted England a large area of territory comprising much of Limousin. Limoges city rebelled and gave its allegiance to the French crown, and as a result was sacked in 1370. Further troubled years followed but when peace was restored, the department benefited economically; tanneries sprang up by the Vienne, paper was produced, printing developed and the area became known for fine enamelwork.
After a revolt by the peasants, Henri IV brought peace and prosperity to the region of Limousin. He visited Limoges in 1607 and was greeted enthusiastically. The Counter-Reformation led to the creation of numerous convents and religious orders, especially in Limoges. In 1761, Anne Robert Jacques Turgot was appointed tax collector of Limoges. He negotiated a reduction in taxes payable by the region and developed fairer methods of collecting taxes, as well as improving the road system and encouraging agricultural development. Around 1765, kaolin was discovered near Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche in the south of the department, leading to the development of the porcelain industry.
The Haute-Vienne is an area of rolling wooded landscapes interspersed with streams and rivers and numerous lakes. It also has it fair share of of interesting villages and towns, museums and historic monuments.
Limoges is of course a famous medieval porcelain city and is the largest in the department which has a host of museums, architecture, shops and places to visit to entertain all. To the east of the city is found the medieval village of
Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat which is well worth a visit. South-west of Limoges can be found Château de Châlus-Chabrol where Richard the Lionhearted was fatally wounded. The most imposing castle in Haute-Vienne, Chateau de Montbrun, can be seen at Dournazac and is an imposing 12th-century medieval castle.
North-west of Limoges can be found the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, a village that was destroyed during the final months of World War II by the German army and which has been maintained in the same condition, with bombed buildings and burned out cars for example, in a poignant tribute to those that lost their lives there.
In the eastern part of the department lies the Lac de Vassivière (which is in fact sits across all three of Limousin departments offering many different activities and events, especially through the summer. Not far from here is the village of Peyrat-le-Chateau which has an interesting museum dedicated to the local resistance in World War 2 and town of Eymoutiers, both of which are worth a visit.
To the north lies the lake of Saint Pardoux, another favourite leisure destination for many, offering various activities including beaches, fishing and various boating activities