Limoges is the capital of the rural region of Limousin in central France, a thriving university city with a jumping nightlife and a legendary reputation for its exquisite porcelain dating back to the 1770s. Built along the River Vienna, Limoges has two distinct halves: the medieval Cité Quartier straggles up cobbled alleyways past half-timbered houses to the imposing Gothic Cathédral St-Etienne, which overlooks the dancing fountains and neat potages in the tranquil Jardin Botanique (Botanical Gardens) as well as countless terrace bars and restaurants on rue Haute Cité. Sprawling uphill opposite the cathedral is the sophisticated Château Quartier, a shopping paradise tucked into ancient townhouses lining tiny, cobbled medieval streets.
The city has several worthwhile art and war-related museums, but its landmark collection is the Musée National Adrien Dubouché, which holds the largest hoard of Limoges china in the world. Highlights of its beautifully curated displays include elaborate porcelain dinner services inlaid with gold, delicate 17th-century glassware and vast urns covered in Neo-classical figures.
A heart-rending memorial to World War II is found at Oradour-sur-Glane, 22.5 km (14 miles) northwest of Limoges. Thus deserted village was left to fall into ruin as a tragic shrine to the 642 men, women and children shot or burned to death by the German SS on June 10, 1944, in retaliation for Résistance activity. A visitor center and memorial complete the thought-provoking experience.
Limoges Tourist Office: 12 boulevard de Fleurus; open Jan–June, mid-Sept–Dec Mon–Sat 9.30am–6pm; mid-June–mid-Sept Mon–Sat 9am–7pm, Sun 10.30am–5.30pm. Musée National Adrien Dubouché is found at 8 place Winston Churchill; open Wed–Mon 10am–12.30pm, 2pm–5.45pm; admission adults €6, seniors €4, free for all aged under 26.