If it’s Tuesday, it must be Collonges-la-Rouge. What the heck is that ?, you may ask.
Selected as the target for a visit from yours truly this beautiful medieval village, some eighty kilometers from our gite, is listed as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages Of France” and is entirely built from a red sandstone which comes from the Habitarelle massif.
After exploring the various streets and alleyways we had lunch although not in the establishment featured above. The meal was as usual, very relaxed and delicous and was accompanied by the unusual “Moutarde Violette” which is made by combining mustard with a red grape mash. The version that we were eating is produced at Turenne, just a few kilometers away from Collonges. We enjoyed it so much that we purchased a jar to bring home.
We, of course, visited the Church of St-Pierre. The contruction of which was started during the 11th century. Further additions and modifications were made throughout the 14th and 15th Centuries and the church was fortified during the 16th century. Hence many different styles can be observed both inside and out.
Unusual for Collonges, the entrance way is decorated with white limestone, from nearby Turenne, although it is tinted with the red sandstone dust.
After leaving Collonges our route took us past Turenne. We opted not to visit on this occasion, just stopping to take a couple of quick snaps from afar before heading home to the gite.
It’s Monday morning and I’ve made the run to Massaret for fresh bread.
French bread is wonderful but it doesn’t stay fresh for long. But that’s OK because I get to meet all these friendly people. Everyone says “Bonjour” when they meet you in the street or inside the boulangerie. Then “Au Revoir” when either they or you leave the shop. It is such a refreshing change from the sullen brits who just stand there avoiding eye contact.
So this morning I request a baguette, and a boule, in my rather fractured franglais and make it known that I would like the boule sliced. Madame returns with the loaf in a bag and promptly drops it on the floor with the individual slices all trying to make a run for the space under the counter. With many typically gallic shrugs and embarrassed smiles a second boule makes its way through the slicer, into a bag and safely into my arms and back to the gite.
Today we have decided to go into Limoges for a bit of a reconnaissance. Surprisingly we make into the centre, park up and find the tourist information office all in one smooth move. We discover that there is one of those “tourist train” things due to leave from just outside the tourist office in a short while. The consensus was that this would be a quick way to orientate ourselves to the Limoges sights. Then we can cherry pick those that we want to do in detail. So into a cafe we go for a quick coffee and cake and not long after we are sat aboard in anticipation.
To describe the journey as the ride from hell would be extreme but it was anything but pleasant. The coaches shuddered back and forth like the folds of an accordion and the cobble streets jarred our spines through the virtually non existent suspension and thin padding on the seats. I should also point out that there is an audio commentary available with translations. We were all issued with earphones but the translated commentary was fragmented possibly breaking up in harmony with the reverberations radiating through the chassis of the coaches. The translated commentary was pretty much drowned out by the volume of the native commentary blasting out over the speakers. Thankfully, after an hour it was over.
After the trauma of the train ride we decided that what we all needed was a quiet walk by the river. This turned out to be a good decision.
The walk by the river led us to the saint-Etienne Bridge ….
The following description I have plagiarized from one of the many info plaques ….
The St Etienne bridge was built in the 13th C to divert some of the traffic away from St Martial bridge, aboy 1km downstream. It was on the “via Lemovicensis”, a main route to Santiago de Compostella and is used by pilgrims to this day. It linked the right bank quarter of washerwomen, who until the middle of the 20th C washed the towns bourgeoisie’s linen in the river, to the “Clos Ste Marie”, nowadays a village in the city centre, on the left bank.
The bridge also marked the end of the stretch of river used to float lumber from the mountain to the construction sites and industries of Limoges.
It was very peaceful here, away from the noise of the city traffic. So much so that there was a bit of billing and cooing going on ….