Millevaches (wpnr-millevaches.fr), the plateau of a thousand springs, is undulating upland country rising to 800–900m in altitude, on the northern edge of the Massif Central, with a wild and sparsely populated landscape and villages few and far between. Those that do exist appear small, grey and sturdy, inured to the buffeting of upland weather. It’s a magnificent country of conifer plantations and natural woodland – of beech, birch and chestnut – interspersed with reed-fringed tarns, man-made lakes and pasture grazed by sheep and cows, much of it now designated a natural regional park. It’s an area to walk or cycle in, or at least savour at a gentle pace, stopping in the attractive, country inns scattered across the plateau.

The small towns, like Eymoutiers and Meymac, have a primitive architectural beauty and an old-world charm. Near Eymoutiers, the Lac de Vassivière offers all sorts of sports activities and a beautiful setting for a contemporary art museum.

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