This stunningly beautiful region of still lakes, fast flowing streams, gentle rolling valleys, ravines and forested mountains is probably one of the best kept secrets in France.
Away from the tourist crowds of the Dordogne and similar regions, the Limousin has maintained its own brand of quality time and quality of life and you won’t be disappointed. It is made up of just three departments – the Haute Vienne with its capital Limoges, the Creuse, capital Guéret, and the Corrèze, capital Tulle.
The pretty little hamlet of Grandmont, situated on the outskirts of the town of Saint Sylvestre in the Haute Vienne is steeped in history, being the location of one of Frances’ most important medieval sites – the Abbey of Grandmont and famous for The Grandmontines.
Strange carved stone lintels and old ruined walls are all elements of the old prestigious Abbey which dates back to the twelfth century. It was built by the Order of Grandmont, founded by Saint-Etienne-de-Muret, who had retired from public life in the Monts d’Ambazac to live with his disciples. He experienced great periods of prosperity with the help of great people such as kings of England, Henry I, Henry II and Richard the Lion Heart.
The buildings were ransacked several times during the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion. Its last renovation dates from the eighteenth century until the order was dissolved in 1772 and the abbey decomposed. The leftover materials were used mostly for the construction of a prison in Limoges and village houses. In 1825 a small chapel was built (which remains to the day), also using left over materials from the abbey, by the last monk of Grandmont (of the Grandmontines).
Due it’s extraordinary history and being on the cycle route of both le-tour-de-france and le-tour-de-limousine Grandmont has become an increasingly popular spot with tourists. With the city of Limoges just a 35 minute drive away and plenty of tourist attractions within the area, Grandmont Gites remains busy with holiday-makers from April through to September. However, it doesn’t sleep in the later months! Autumn is a wonderful time to visit with forests of gold and bronze and warm temperatures while winter is popular for buyers of property and land in region taking up winter rentals from around late September to early April.
A 12 minute drive from Grandmont brings you to the town of Ambazac with its charming 13th Century church housing two of the regions most precious relics. The warm aromas of freshly baked bread permeate the town from its many boulangeries. Typically French with bars, boutique shops, three large supermarkets, a deli/takeaway plus our favourite restaurant des Voyageurs where the steak is mouth-wateringly good.