A Countryside Weekend Break in La Limousin, France

It’s funny the places you make friends isn’t it? Many moons ago, I spent a few summers typing letters to earn some cash for my global adventures. If you told me back then that one of the secretaries I met there would end up being such a dear friend, I’d never have believed you. She already knew my Mum well and not only did she rescue me from clerical oblivion but she also kept in touch long after I left.La Creuse sign abbey Benevent L'AbbayeWhen she retired to the sleepy, tranquil village of Benevent L’Abbaye, La Creuse in the Limousin region of France, she suggested we come and visit and after several years of dithering, Mum and I eagerly departed London on a rainy Saturday in June this year to arrive in this unfamiliar province in central France.France nature hills scenery landscape La Limousin

Bennevent L’Abbaye, La Creuse, France

The drive from the airport saw us enveloped in undulating, rolling, lime green landscapes, whilst the prolific pollen count made itself all too apparent to my fragile nasal lining. About five cars fell into the periphery of our vision on the journey, deeming it a “busy” day by local standards. If this is busy, then London life is nothing short of disorganised, chaotic pandemonium.Limousin Creuse tourism waterside scenery

We reached their beautiful home with magenta flowers gracing the front patio, a balcony adorned with floral displays and the friendliest dog I’ve ever met. The sun was all consuming at a temperature of approximately 30 degrees, absorbing the vapour from my soggy London umbrella.

Benevent L’Abbaye is the picture of what I always imagined France to be like, where locals greet you as you walk down the street and with charming village post offices, doctor’s clinics and quintessentially French boulangeries, charcuteries and patisseries.

The village name translates literally to the “Good Wind” and it is an important location along the Pilgrim route in Europe by virtue of its abbey. Unlike so many other Catholic churches and abbeys I had seen before, this one is simple, understated and earthy, the cool ashen stone giving us some light relief from the midday heat.

Even in a tiny village, the French can make just about anything seem elegant. Forget corporate fizzy drinks, here we sipped on al fresco violet cordial at Le Colimacon Bleu Salon du The, a tea room with one of the most eclectic collections of loose leaf teas that I’ve seen anywhere in the world, including Lassi, Rose and Masala and a cocoa nibs flavour (which I first tried at a gourmet chocolate afternoon tea).

La Creuse is a predominantly agricultural area; there is little to see in terms of industry, export or job markets. It is an easy-going, rural life, where the simplest of things still yield the greatest of pleasures – the family Sunday lunches, the fruit trees in the orchards, a coffee and a cake in the village. Far from the glamorous but sharp tones I recall in Paris, the vibe here is as casual as the dress sense. No-one here cares if you don’t have a designer handbag , which suited me just fine (my designer handbag money stays firmly in my travel pot).

Exploring Gueret

Gueret Fountain

We spent Sunday afternoon in the nearby town of Gueret, a larger town than Benevent L’Abbaye but retaining the narrow cobbled roads, a municipal hall and a large central fountain.

A selection of boutique clothes and shoe shops line the streets as does a charming little chocolate cafe, which was sadly closed when we were there. We enjoyed a lazy and sun-soaked stroll but it would be worth visiting on a Saturday or weekday to see the town come into its own.Gueret France church

And of course, what is France without its food? With only two days, I tried to sample a few French delicacies including a goats cheese fougasse, éclairs and macarons and Mum tried a slice of Tropezienne cake. It’s the abundance of light but delicious fresh cream in cakes that I think truly distinguishes British cakes from French pastries. Later that evening, we were treated to homemade cherry Clafoutis, which I learned is a delicacy from the Limousin district itself.

French patisserie dessert macarons, eclairs, TropezienneNormally a neurotic restaurant planner, it felt strangely liberating to be taken to a restaurant chosen by someone else! At the small family run La Pailotte restaurant, the waterside views at dusk were seductive but the vibe inside the bar bustling, the perfect combination for us.Gueret sunsetI tried duck gizzard for the first time in a salad that was one of the best I’ve ever tried. The dishes rarely change but the loyal customer-base they have earned love them just the way they are.

Practical Points

– Benevent L’Abbaye is approximately an hour away from the nearest big city of Limoges

– Direct flights from London Stansted on Ryanair take approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes

–  This is an ideal location for anyone with an interest in countryside walks, sampling French village life and visiting the undiscovered regions of France

32 thoughts on “A Countryside Weekend Break in La Limousin, France

  1. La Creuse looks so picturesque . Look like it would have been an amazing time away

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 9, 2014 — 3:01 pm

      Thanks Jenna 🙂 It was a perfect countryside escape from the mad rush of London life and great to discover an area I hadn’t even heard of before – makes me wonder what other gorgeous spots are lurking in the world, even in countries so near to England, that I’m completely oblivious about!

  2. Hi Shikha, John says this sounds so good he might have to go there!! We are so glad you enjoyed your visit, and we look forward to seeing you and your lovely husband over here in the not too distant future.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 9, 2014 — 3:02 pm

      Thanks so much for reading Pat – hope my write up did justice to the lovely weekend we all had together 🙂

  3. What a beautiful spot – a bit too far from Australia for a weekend though 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 9, 2014 — 3:03 pm

      Haha, yes probably a wee bit far for a weekend break from Australia I agree! It was very pretty and we were so lucky with the weather! Thanks so much for reading 🙂

  4. La Limousin looks like a lovely French place to visit – and oh those cakes!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 9, 2014 — 3:04 pm

      Those cakes will be the end of me – I just can’t resist them!! La Limousin was so beautiful – I’d only really seen some of the bigger cities and the riviera region of France so it was lovely to get a new perspective by seeing this quite un-touristy area. Thanks so much for commenting 🙂

  5. What an enchanting little place!!! Amazing to take some days off the city stress… wow! 😀

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 9, 2014 — 3:05 pm

      Enchanting is exactly the right word Allane – it was just such a peaceful, quiet and charming little village with beautiful surrounding countryside – great way to escape from a big city for a little while and de-stress! Thank you for reading 🙂

      1. I can imagine, it does look like a great place for relaxing, I love the French countryside!! You’re welcome, love your blog 😀

  6. What a beautiful portrait, and stunning photos! This is the type of place I would never think about visiting, just through not having any preconceptions, but maybe I should rethink that list. I love the places you end up through the people you know!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 9, 2014 — 3:06 pm

      Thanks so much for reading Fuschia – so glad you like the pictures 🙂 I know exactly what you mean – if I hadn’t known someone here, I’m not even sure I’d have heard of this region so you really see some interesting parts of the world when you’re seeing them through the eyes of someone local or someone who lives there!

  7. Looks very picturesque & your photos made it more beautiful.
    Seems you had a great time there.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 9, 2014 — 3:10 pm

      Thank you for the lovely comments Nisha! It really was a picturesque area, which was a lovely surprise considering it wasn’t an area I knew much about at all – a lovely relaxing weekend, where we could slowly stroll around and take our time with things 🙂

  8. What a gorgeous looking place so traditional and pretty, seems like a good choice for a weekend getaway!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 9, 2014 — 3:11 pm

      It was very traditional – great to see what small village life in France is like – I loved the charming little boulangeries and colourful shops in and amongst all that greenery. Such a short flight from London so it was a perfect little mini weekend break! Thanks so much for reading Becky 🙂

  9. What a beautiful spot in France, I feel so relaxed from just reading your post and gazing over your pretty photos. Those cakes look amazing, everyone should be forced to eat an eclair in France at least once in their lifetime. xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 9, 2014 — 3:13 pm

      You are right about that Kelly! I find it quite embarrassing that Mum only had one of those desserts on that plate and…err…who knows who ate the rest of them?! But in my defence, the eclairs and macarons were mini! It was very relaxing and the only real “countryside” weekend breaks I’ve down before have been in England so it was great to see how French village life is life, get a bit of sun in and eat some great food!

  10. It looks like the picture perfect image of a French countryside I have in my mind! I love the countryside… It relaxes me as opposed to big cities that overwhelms me. I love the kind of towns where the greatest pleasures are in the same things.

    1. Whoops, I mean the *small* things!

    2. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 9, 2014 — 3:15 pm

      That’s one of the things I loved most about the place Anna – how the people just seem content, laid back and relaxed just with the small pleasures and some fresh air. After the hustle and bustle of London life, I felt like I was floating into a relaxation bubble (apart from the rhinitis from all the pollen out there – living in London means I’m not used to being around so many trees!) 😀 Thanks for reading Anna – enjoying hearing all about your travels!

  11. This looks so pretty and sounds like a lovely little trip to take with your mum. But seriously you make me so hungry every time I read a new post! I dare you to write an entire post without one mention of food, cake or chocolate in it! You wouldn’t be able to do it haha!! 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 11, 2014 — 9:02 pm

      Haha, yes rather worryingly, I think you might be right about that! I think the next couple of posts that I’m planning to publish also make reference to these things 😀 Though I assure you I have an Argentina post coming up that has no mention of food whatsoever so ha!

  12. What a beautiful place – I love all your photos! Great that you managed to keep in touch for so long and to meet up with this old friend too 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 11, 2014 — 9:04 pm

      Thanks Catherine! It’s always nice to be able to combine a chance to see an old friend with discovering a new place – especially when it’s a place I knew nothing about so it was a very picturesque discovery 🙂

  13. This just looks so beautiful and quaint. I love it.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 13, 2014 — 8:54 am

      Thank you Zoe! Quaint is just the word – it was lovely to discover an area I just never would have known about if I hadn’t had a friend living there 🙂

  14. What a beautiful place to visit and escape life for awhile. It must have been a great experience for you and very different from the hustle and bustle of London. The place and food must have been amazing!

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