The rolling hills and steep river valleys of the department of Creuse are typical of the fringes of France’s high altitude plateau known as the Massif Central.
Winters here can be cold but in summer the weather is pleasantly sunny and warm, an ideal holiday destination for those who enjoy pre-mechanised rural France but prefer to avoid the intense heat found in the more popular south.
The River Creuse, winds peacefully through the sparsely populated countryside passing villages and landscapes around Crozant that inspired nineteenth century artists including Monet.
The river has been dammed in several places forming artificial lakes including Lake Vassiviere which, at over 1000 hectares, is one of the largest lakes in France, offering great opportunities for swimming, sailing and canoeing. Walk the trails around Vassiviere’s shores or voyage to its central island sporting a sculpture park, café and museum.
Creuse welcomes cyclists, walkers and pony trekkers with scores of trails through its lovely woodlands and wild places. Anglers can enjoy good fishing on unpolluted rivers, lakes and streams. You can visit the only thermal spa in Limousin at Evaux-les-Bains and no holiday would be complete without seeing the famous tapestry museum at Aubusson which houses a rich collection of nearly 600 years of tapestry and carpet making.
Creuse has a history of stone cutting - seek out Masgot to delight in the nineteenth century sculptured creations of a local farmer which decorate this tiny village.
Creuse’s capital, Gueret, has some impressive architecture, along with magnificent botanical gardens, summer music festivals, and a museum with paintings from the Crozant School.
Families will enjoy the beaches and water activities of nearby Lake Courtille and the giant maze deep in Chabrieres Forest where wolves once roamed. Observe these shy creatures today in the safety of a secure park at Les Loups de Chabrieres.
Cuisine in Creuse may be simple country fare, hearty soups, fish, and good Limousin beef, using mainly market produce, but fairs and festivals such as the Maisonnisses Cheese Fair and August Cider Fair at Nouziers show locals take their food seriously. Try the Creuse speciality of rabbit cooked in cider and ‘noisettines d’Aubusson’ - light cakes flavoured with hazelnuts.