France // The Limousin, Dordogne and the Lot //


Limoges is a pleasant city, if not one that calls for a long stay. It’s famed for its crafts – enamel in the Middle Ages and, since the eighteenth century, exceptionally fine china – though the porcelain industry itself is pretty much spent, hard hit by recession and changing tastes. The local kaolin (china clay) mines that gave Limoges china its special quality are exhausted, and the workshops survive mainly on the tourist trade, though some are now successfully diversifying into high-tech ceramics. On first glance, its centre is rather blighted by the ugly concrete buildings of place de la Republique, but delving into the quiet streets beyond, particularly rue de la Boucherie and around, reveals a more atmospheric and charming side to Limoges.

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