1. A first in France
Get ready to hit the road to Le Dorat for the World Sheep Shearing Championship. Dorat is a pretty little village in Haute-Vienne, and has already played host to the Sheep Shearing Six Nations in 2013. And while France may not yet be the world's best at shearing sheep, there are plenty of competitive shearers ready to battle their way to the top. Events include: machine shearing, blade shearing, and (tonnes of) woolhandling. Allez les Bleus!
2. Sheep shearing is the new rugby
Join the Association for the World Sheep Shearing Championship (AMTM) and let these next-gen shepherds show you how you really shear a sheep. It's no mean feat! What's more, the great shearing nations are the same as in rugby: England, Northern Ireland, and of course Wales. In New Zealand, shearing is even the nation's second sport... after rugby!
3. A chance to visit a thousand year-old church
Usually home to just short of 2000 souls, for the World Sheep Shearing Championship Le Dorat is expecting 30,000 visitors from all over the world. And while you're in this little village with a big history, why not visit its impressive church, a masterpiece of Roman art where you can find peace between shearing competitions. Come nightfall, head up onto the remains of the battlements to savour the medieval atmosphere of this unique little village.
4. Pay homage to the region's farmers
These piles of wool are a sure reminder that Limousin is meat country. From pork to beef, and even mutton, regional specialities are given pride of place at the farmers' market, which sprouts up every two weeks at the foot of the church. It's a festive and social event, and a good way to release the tension of competing.
5. Visit the Gates of Hell
Once the championship is over, get away from the crowds to visit the Portes d'Enfer (Gates of Hell). Fear not, you won't have to atone for your sins: these gates, a few cable lengths from Dorat, serve only to turn the mellow flow of the Gartempe into a raging torrent that is a sight (and sound) to behold! In this version of hell, you can grab some kayak paddles and take on the rapids. A real adventure!