Much of Haute-Vienne’s cuisine is the simple country fare found throughout Limousin; hearty soups, fresh fish from Haute-Vienne’s many lakes and rivers and good, finely marbled beef from red-brown Limousin cattle.
Around St Yrieix-la-Perche, cul noir pigs free range in meadows and woodlands to produce red-label pork.
Salt pork, along with vegetables including onions, carrots and potatoes, is used in a tasty stew known as ‘potee limousin’.
Haute-Vienne abounds in food fairs and festivals. One of the oldest, celebrating Limoge’s butchers guild, dates back to the Middle Ages and is held on the third Thursday of October each year.
Known as La Frairie des Petits Ventres, events take place on the rue de la Boucherie (butcher’s street) and are strictly for non-vegetarians! Locals and visitors indulge in all manner of tastings from tripe to pig’s trotters and more. Limousin pastries which are also sold could be an option for the less adventurous.
In autumn, forests abound with wild mushrooms and the chestnuts which are the emblem of Limousin and have fed its population for centuries. Local fruit, especially apples and cherries, are available in season in the weekly markets held in most villages. ‘Café de Pays’ signs in the Perigord-Limousin Regional Park indicates meals made with local produce.
Drink cider made with Limousin apples or try local wines from around Brive-la-Gallarde in neighbouring Correze. Breweries appeared here in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries thanks to the pure water, but only a few operate today.
Look for La Ceva d’Oc beer in the Saturday morning covered market at St-Junien or buy directly from the brewer at le Mas Buisson in Gorre, tel: (00 33) 5 55 39 17 96.
Le Musee des Distilleries Limougeaudes in Limoges, is one of Haute-Vienne’s few remaining distilleries making chestnut and fruit liqueurs and housing a museum. Open Tuesday to Saturday - free entrance.