Posted tagged ‘Poitou’

Lovely Limoges

October 28, 2011

Let me say right upfront that there’s a lot of Limoges that’s not lovely, but I’m not going to show you that, because there’s so much that’s really breathtaking. We arrived all crumpled and weary, after six hours on the milk train, a train where sometimes we were riding forwards and sometimes backwards as it chugged its way in and out of small mountain towns we’d never heard of.

Coming in to one of the most beautiful train stations ever took a lot of the sting out of the fact that I’d had my legs entwined for five hours with those of the very tall young woman sitting opposite me. We had to ask each other’s permission to move more than an inch or two, and our feet and knees had quite an intimate relationship by the time I pried myself out of the train and stumbled into the damp and slightly rainy air of Limoges.

It was an easy walk from the train station to the charming little Hotel de Paris , and from there to the wonderful restaurant Le Boeuf à la Mode. If you get to Limoges, stay there, and dine on the famous Limousin beef, which tastes just like beef is supposed to taste, only better. The hotel owner and the restaurant staff were all welcoming and delightful

and I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the ceiling from my super comfortable bed, which shows you either how exhausted I was, or how good the wine that accompanied that beef was, or maybe a bit of both.

Of course you can’t go to Limoges without looking at porcelain, so we went to the Royal Limoges factory, hoping to see it in action. It being Friday, and this being France, as the  factory shop keeper and museum curator explained to me, the factory wasn’t working, and we’d have to content ourselves with a visit to the old, preserved parts of the enormous kiln and its associated displays. This turned out to be pretty interesting

and we were reminded that porcelain isn’t all about pretty patterns and colors

but that many utilitarian objects were, and still are, made of porcelain. We thought about buying some of the beautiful dishes, but realized that we’d need a new house and new furniture to go with them, so we left without making a big commitment to changing our lifestyle.

Outside the factory this cute display of cheery street art presaged a slight clearing of the weather, for which we were grateful, having decided at the last minute against bringing our umbrellas on this trip.

Limoges has on old part of town that’s perched on a hill

and surrounds a stupendous cathedral, which is itself surrounded

by a splendid botanical garden, full of plants I’d never seen before.

I have to admit that I fell wholeheartedly in love with this tree, one of the few specimens in the garden not to have a name tag, so my love is destined to remain anonymous, alas.

Inside the cathedral, which was begun at the start of the 13th century

everything is impossibly beautiful.

And speaking of impossible beauty, Shel took this picture, and since nearly all my pictures of stained glass look burned out, I’m still trying to figure out how he did it. He doesn’t want to tell, so he says he “just pointed the camera at it.” Yep, I believe that.

Next we went to what is undoubtedly one of the most unique and heart breaking places in France, but that’s another story, one that I’ll tell you soon, when I’m a little more recovered from the emotion of it.