Lost In Limoges

From the sheep-dotted pastures of France's underpopulated Southwest, Limoges rises in all its grey glory. The city's claim to fame: fine porcelain. The half-timbered houses of the Medieval center are surrounded by strip malls and McDo. Land-hungry Brits descend with flailing pocketbooks (thanks, RyanAir). The weather is remarkably cool year-round. Sure, I live on rue de Nice, but this is NOT the Cote d'Azur. Welcome to Limoges, "the middle of nowhere"-- or as Pierre says "everywhere"-- France.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sunday hikes in the Limousin

Another 13th century chapel. Yet another panorama of verdant, rolling hillside. More remote villages, with crumbling stone houses framed by purple hydrangeas. Cows grazing in pastures next to cascading creeks. And deer nibbling on blackberry bushes (I got a stomache from eating fistfuls of perfectly ripe berries.) Bored yet?

The Limousin is just so quaint.

So it's become a ritual of sorts. We've stocked up on maps from the tourism office in Limoges, and set out every Sunday on a hike in the surrounding countryside. Last weekend we headed to St Julien-le-Petit, and ambled over 20 kilometers in a big circuit around the village: past a small lake where I snapped these photos of the cool reflections, past adorable villages (where rabbits for the dinner table were kept in little cages), past a quarry.

It drizzled a little-- the perfect temperature after weeks of intense heat and humidity. (After the horrors of the 2003 European heat wave, where 15,000 people died in France, the government has been freaking out, issuing orders to keep shutters closed all day, drink fluids, and take sponge baths.)


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