- Population: 710,939
- Pop.density (people per km2): 42
Three principal communes
Limoge's name has been synonymous with fine porcelain since the 1770s when European artists set out to copy techniques perfected by the Chinese five centuries earlier. There are plenty of crafts museums about town showing examples of Limoges pottery but the kaolin mines are long exhausted and any living industry is thin on the ground. The city's landmark building is Cathédrale St-Etienne which, built on the model of the cathedral at Amiens, is one of the few Gothic churches south of the Loire. Limoges has a lively student population and in late September there's an important gathering of writers, dramatists and musicians at the Festival International des Théâtres Francophones. Every other January there's a contemporary dance festival and on the third Friday of October the town's few vegetarians make exodus while everyone else hordes into the rue de la Boucherie to gorge on pig's trotters, sheep's testicals and all sorts of charming offal.
This town is a major rail junction and about as close to an industrial centre as you can get in Limousin. It's not a particularly attractive place although is very close to some of the Corrèze région's most beautiful villages. It's known throughout France for its champion rugby team.
In the Corrèze, this town is strung out for 3km along a deep narrow valley of the département's eponymous river. From a distance it looks bleak and grey but once you reach its heart, it's a fascinating place with lots of winding lanes and stairways bordered by very handsome houses. Firearms and lace were once the major industries of this town and it was home to France's last accordion factory.