Guéret, capital of the Creuse from where the stonemasons set out to construct Paris , still has fine granite houses bearing evidence of their skills. There is a splendid museum of archeology, history and decorative arts, the Musée de la Sénatorene, set in a fabulous park. Many paintings of the Crozant school, sculpture, Chinese and Egyptian artefacts and gold and silversmithing from the Limousin are amongst the exhibits. Le Présidial details the local flora and fauna and chronicles life prior to the industrial revolution with illustrations of the tin mining and granite quarrying traditions.
Towns in the Creuse
Hotels in Creuse
Aubusson with its ruined castle is famous for its wool dyeing trade and its woven flags, much like tapestries. Sheep have long grazed on the pastures of the Creuse, known as the Marche and this, together with the pure waters of the river Creuse, created the ideal conditions for this trade. Flemish craftsmen in the early 14th century set up the first tapestry workshops. The oldest known marchoise tapestry dates back to the 16th century although at Felletin where the Manufacture Pinton still exists, there is early mention of tapestry as well. The 18th century was the high point of Aubusson’s history when Oriental and South American influence introduced an exotic element to the tapestries. The Musée Departmental de la Tapisserie is a historical account of the history of the tapestry and weaving industry with themed exhibitions on all periods.
The Plateau de Millevaches
The Plateau de Millevaches has over 1000 springs and is known as the ‘water tower of France’ as a result. As well as the many rivers, including the Creuse from which the department takes its name, are the Gartempe, the Thaurion and the Cher and the lake of Vassivière which is an inland sea of 1100 hectares, one of the largest lakes in France as well as the lakes of Lavaud-Gelade, Méouze, La Chaume and La Cazine – in fact a wonderland for fishermen. Evaux-les-Bains is the only thermal spa of the region. Granite is omnipresent in the buildings of churches and village houses and chestnut wood is to be found in carvings, mouldings and wood panelling.
The Mont de Guéret
At the Mont de Guéret is the park of Les Loups de Chabrières where you can observe wolves, whilst over 150 deer live at the Domaine du Cros at Azat Chatenet. There are many festivals and fairs in the department. On the third Sunday in April there is the Cheese Fair at Maisonnisses. In the second fortnight in May there is the Local Produce and Wine Fair at Châtelus-Malveleix and another Local Produce and Cheese fair in mid July at Aubusson. At the end of May in Ajain, there is a festival of local cured ham. In early August there is a cider fair in Nouziers and in September there is a mushroom fair at La Villeneuve on the last Sunday in the month. Once a month between October and June, Guéret holds its ‘Brocante’ ( bric-à-brac) market in the town centre. Finally, in early November at Sainte-Feyre there is an Apple Fete, followed by the Christmas Market at Moutier d’Ahun the weekend before Christmas. In the region there is now a label to verify authenticity of local produce called ‘Marchés des Producteurs du Pays’. Market day is very much part of the local culture.