Things to see and do during your holiday in Limousin
The village of Saint Germain les Belles is in the Haute-Vienne department of Limousin: “The French Lake District”. It is also only 10 minutes from the border of the Correze department, 45 minutes from the Creuse department and close to the Dordogne. There is a wealth of activities to keep all guests, of all ages entertained! For specific information relating to local events and markets in Limousin, or other day trips and activities in Haute-Vienne and beyond, please visit our links, activities and events in Limousin page.
Situated in the heart of the rural village of Saint Germain les Belles
All of our guests comment on the superb, yet convenient location of the gîte. Saint Germain les Belles is a peaceful village and is surrounded by gently, rolling countryside. It boasts many facilities and attractions:
- You can walk to the village swimming lake and sandy beach in just ten minutes and it provides fantastic, free entertainment for families. Enjoy a paddle or a swim, hire pedalos or just relax, while the children build sand-castles. There is also a restaurant selling lovely meals, drinks and ice creams and on certain evenings, you can enjoy music nights with bands, singing and dancing!
- There are 2 other bar / restaurants that are a short walk away. ‘Le Saint Germain’ is a pizza restaurant/bar which also offers a take away service. ‘Le Tennessee’ is the bar across the road which has themed soirees some weekend evenings. Both can be reached on foot within several minutes, solving the problem of who is going to drive after a night out!
- There is also a boulangerie, an excellent butcher and two other grocery shops, selling fine Limousin produce and excellent cheese and vegetables. The convenience store in the village also sells beers, wines and spirits along with other every day items.
- Other shops and services in the village include a pharmacy, bank with a cash point, a tourist information office, a petrol station / very helpful garage and a SNCF rail station with daily trains to Limoges and Brive La Gaillard.
Limousin: The Land of a Thousand Lakes.
Wherever you are in Limousin, you will not be far from a lake. You can swim in most of them in summer and they often have sandy beaches. The Spectacular Lake Vassivière – one of the largest lakes in France, is just 40 minutes away…
- With a 45km shore-line, Lake Vassivière (le Lac de Vassivière) is one of Europe’s largest man-made lakes and is only a picturesque 40 minute drive away from your Limousin holiday home.
- Surrounding the lake are over 300km of walking and cycling routes, through undisturbed forest, heathland and peaceful countryside.
- Le Centre Equestre de Vassivière en Limousin is a great place to try some horse-riding! There are ponies and horses to suit all ages and abilities.
- The lake is also popular destination in Limousin for water-sports, such as wind-surfing, water-skiing, boating, fishing and of course, swimming (there are 6 sandy beaches to choose from!)
- The edge of the lake is dotted with pretty villages, many with excellent restaurants and snack bars.
- The “Isle de Vassivière” is the home of the National Centre of Contemporary Art. Follow signs for ‘L’Isle de Vassivière’ and walk across the bridge to the main island of the lake. Apart from the Art Centre, there are some lovely walks in the woodland and great places for a picnic. You can also enjoy some of the animal exhibits, snack bar and a couple of very friendly donkeys! We love walking here in September – November. It is usually very quiet and peaceful and the turning leaves make a beautiful sight.
Lakes, Rivers & Swimming in Haute-Vienne and Limousin…
Lac de Masseret and others
- There are many other swimming lakes in the immediate vincinity and they are all brilliant if you have children to entertain. Masseret Lake, for example is only a 10 minute drive away.
- Aside from the walking trails in the forest, there is lots of play equipment for children and a really long sandy beach!
- The snack bar is usually open June-September and also serves up meals at any time of the day.
- In summer, the lake also hosts “Local Produce Markets”. They are a fun way to experience ‘local life’ at its best. Enjoy the stalls selling fine local, Limousin produce and even cook the meat you bought, on the communal barbeque! Please see our links, activities and events in Limousin page for further details of local produce markets in Haute-Vienne, Correze, Creuse and Limousin.
- Other lakes with sandy beaches in Haute-Vienne, supervised swimming and play equipment for children are at Meuzac, La Croisille-sur-Briance and Chateauneuf-La-Foret.
Fishing in Limousin
- If you are interested in doing a spot of river or lake fishing during your holiday in Limousin, then the region is full of under-fished lakes and rivers.
- You will need the necessary Limousin fishing permits / licenses and you can get these from the village ‘mairie’ or bar ‘Le Tennessee’, just over the road from the holiday cottage. If you need any help or advice, please feel free to ask during your stay and we can do any talking for you!
Canoeing and Kayaking in Haute-Vienne
- To see the beautiful, unspoiled Limousin countryside from a different perspective, there are various canoeing centres, from which you can hire canoes and kayaks for a day’s adventure.
- To name but a few, there are canoeing centres at Uzerche, Eymoutiers and several in and around Limoges. We provide leaflets on all of these but if you would like further information, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Outdoor Swimming Pools
- There are some excellent municipal swimming pools in the surrounding area. Many open up outdoor pools in the summer months and are very child / family-friendly.
- Our favourite is the pool at Tulle (Centre aquarécréatif de l’Auzelou) – it is well worth the 40 minute drive and in addition to the large indoor pools, there is a large outdoor pool, water chute and 2 baby / toddler pools.
- Other swimming pools, well worth a visit are the ‘Piscine couverte des Roches de Scoeux’ at Chamberet (15 minutes away), the ‘Piscine municipale d’été’ at Uzerche (15 minute drive), the ‘Espace Aqua’Noblat’ at Saint Leonard de Noblat and the pool at Saint Yrieix La Perche.
- For opening times and for further information, please visit our links, activities and events in Limousin page.
Historic Towns and Villages
Limoges – the ‘capital’ of Limousin
- 30 minutes to the north, is the attractive ‘capital city’ of Limousin, Limoges. It is famous for its porcelain and there are many outlet shops, or smaller boutiques where you can buy pieces to suit all tastes and pockets.
- We love Limoges for its interesting and individual shops – many ‘chain stores’ are kept out of the city centre, making for a really interesting shopping experience!
- You can also enjoy antique markets, the covered food market, medieval churches and our personal favourite – the ancient carousel at Place de la République – read the notes on the door to check out the opening times.
- Limoges aquarium is well worth a visit. It is true that it is small but the staff are very helpful and they have some amazing looking fish! It’s a good, rainy-day place to visit if you are already in Limoges.
Other lovely, historical towns and villages to visit in Limousin include:
- Pompadour (La Cité du Cheval) and its frequent equestrian events and château.
- Uzerche (‘The Pearl of the Limousin’) on the stunning Vézère River.
- Sègur le château, one of the most beautiful villages in France, with a 12th century castle and half-timbered houses.
- St Yriex la Perche, with its interesting shops, historic buildings and markets.
- St Leonard de Noblat, a stunning medieval town, surrounded by panoramic views.
- The lovely château at Coussac Bonneval…
Other interesting day-trips and places to visit during your holiday in Limousin
Oradour-sur-Glane, WW2 Martyr Village
- For a moving day out in Limousin, a visit to Oradour-sur-Glane is a must. Situated in the Haute Vienne, between St-Junien and Bellac (60 km from St Germain les Belles), this town is a memorial to the horrific WW2 massacre in 1944. 642 people died – the men were rounded up and shot, whilst the women and children were imprisoned in the church which was then set alight.
- The village has been left as it was on that fateful day and is an incredibly moving, whilst informative, place to visit. For details of opening times and further information, please visit our links, activities and events in Limousin page.
Parc du Reynou Animal Safari Park and Gardens
- One of our favourite day trips, this animal park is only 30 km away and is a great day out for families.
- Situated within the grounds of the Haviland Family home, there are beautiful gardens and over 550 animals from around the world to see. There are lions, tigers and a huge ‘safari-style’ enclosure with an ostrich, rhinoceros and some incredible African cattle.
- The biggest ‘hits’ with our kids are the monkeys (many different species) and the ‘petting’ enclosure where you can feed miniature goat breeds popcorn! For opening times and for further information, please visit our links, activities and events in Limousin page.
From hiking to climbing, from outdoor painting to bird-watching and from horse-riding to mountain-biking – the surrounding countryside is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream!
Rambling in Limousin
- For those who enjoy countryside rambling, there is a vast network of walks in the surrounding region. We have many leaflets and maps that detail such routes, or you can always pop into the friendly Saint Germain les Belles Tourist Information Centre to find out more.
Cycling in Limousin
- If you enjoy cycling holidays or mountain biking, bicycle hire is available within the village (at the Tourist Information Office) and there are many local routes through quiet country villages.
Climbing in Limousin
- There are also several Climbing locations in Limousin, including Aubazine (Saut de la Bergère), Bort les Orgues (Orgues), Gros-Chastang (Le Pont de Sagne), Uzerche (Rocher du Moulin in the Vézère Gorges) and Voutezac (Saut du Saumon).
There are also several nearby hang-gliding, hot air ballooning and horse-riding / trekking centres. For opening times and for further information, please visit our links, activities and events in Limousin page.
Local Limousin Cuisine
Local specialities of the region include clafoutis (tasty black cherry flan), simple fresh salads with fresh chestnuts or walnuts, the famous Limousin Beef, chestnut crêpes, wild duck, dishes made from locally-collected mushrooms (including the prized cèpe), pâté de pommes de terre (a delicious pie made from potatoes, meat and crème fraiche) and other hearty fare! Apart from the two friendly restaurants / bars within the village, there are many more to discover, like ‘Auberge St. Roche’ in the sleepy village of La Porcherie, just 10 minutes from Saint Germain les Belles; or the ‘Ferme Auberge’ just outside the village, serving up farm-produced dishes. For more information and specific links on all of the above, please visit our links, activities and events in Limousin page.