Haute-Vienne is a fisherman’s paradise with 6500km of category 1 rivers and 190 hectares of category 1 lakes, 400km of category 2 rivers and 1800 hectares of category 2 lakes.
The variety of calm waters and fast flowing torrents on the River Vienne ensure great fishing and a range of species including game fish, bream, barbel and trout for more experienced anglers.
Find great trout fishing too on the River Gartempe, and the Vienne is also a venue for national and regional competitions.
The many lakes of Haute-Vienne’s Perigord-Limousin Regional Natural Park offer various levels of fishing, and pike, carp, sander and perch are all in good supply in Lac de Saint-Pardoux - at centres like Bellac - and Lac de Vassiviere. Daily fishing permits ‘cartes de peche’ can usually be obtained throughout the region at shops, tabacs, and bars. For more information contact www.federation-peche87.com
Take the summer ‘Train Vapeur’ mountain line 100km from Limoges to Ussels in neighbouring Correze, along the picturesque Vienne valley to Eymoutiers, then climbing through forests to the high altitude Plateau de Millevaches. The gorges and scenery are spectacular.
Trains run in July and August every year and your journey’s length can be shortened by ending at Meymac or Eymoutiers. Consult Limoges Tourist Office for details.
All the family will enjoy a trip to this splendidly landscaped safari park where over 500 animals from 5 continents can be seen in settings suited to their places of origin - from zebra and giraffe on an African plain to yaks and snow leopards in an Asian setting.
See animals from South America and Australia and more. Located in the grounds of Chateau du Reynou, Le Vigen, the Park is open everyday from April to end Sept, 10.00-20.00, last entry 19.00. Find more information on opening times for the rest of the year on tel: (00 33) 5 55 00 40 00.
Richard the Lionheart came to the English throne in 1189 having inherited lands in France through his mother - Eleanor of Aquitaine. He and the King of France were allies in the Crusades but Richard later went to war with the King and local barons over lands in the region.
Follow his ‘route’ - a well sign-posted 180km - along a line of fortified towns, chateaux and castles marking episodes in his campaigns. Directions take you along quiet roads through delightful, unspoilt Limousin countryside, stopping at places such as the fortified Chateau of Coussac-Bonneval, and Chateau Chalus-Chabrol near Chalus where Richard received a mortal wound from an arrow.
This cross between a train and a bicycle is a great way to explore 6km of the Dronne Valley in the Perigord-Limousin Regional Natural Park passing old river bridges and mills. The journey takes 2½ hours and the track is open from April to the end of October with trips every day from mid-June to mid-September. Tel: (00 33) 5 55 78 86 47 for other opening hours and tariffs.
Although Haute-Vienne is many miles from the sea, man-made beaches beside its many lakes - in particular Vassiviere and Saint-Pardoux - mean swimmers and sun-bathers will not be disappointed.
In lovely natural settings, both these lakes offer a range of watersports including water skiing, wind surfing, canoeing and kayaking. They also have sailing schools, boat trips and offer boat hire.
Take swimming and underwater diving lessons at Freaudour, and hire pedalos and water bikes at Chabannes on Saint-Pardoux. On Vassiviere, hire boats at Auphelle, and canoes and kayaks at Broussas. These are great places for families in summer when many beaches are supervised and there is a range of cafes, restaurants and picnic areas around the shorelines.
There are over 2500km of marked trails crossing Haute-Vienne including St Jacques de Compostela routes and GR and GRP long distance hiking trails. Contact local tourist offices for short and long distance themed routes suitable for families and serious ramblers.
Examples are the 20km Lac de Saint-Pardoux trail - Gartempe-Saint-Pardoux office, tel: (00 33) 5 55 76 56 80 - or 6km Limoges banks of the River Vienne - Limoges office tel: (00 33) 5 55 34 46 87.
Limoges has been producing fine china since the 1770s and porcelain lovers can visit the Bernardaud porcelain factory at 27 avenue Albert Thomas for demonstrations of enamelling and a factory tour. Open daily June - Sept and Mon - Fri rest of the year. For more information tel: (00 33) 5 55 10 55 91