Day 1 Limoges
Our first morning in Limoges was actually spent outside of the city, in a small neighbouring village called Vicq-sur-Breuilh. The village is home to the Musée et Jardins Cécile Sabourdy (The Cécile Sabourdy Museum and Gardens), a museum dedicated to Naïve art (sometimes called “raw art”) and named after a local painter Cécile Sabourdy.
After a morning spent appreciating art we rewarded ourselves with lunch at the excellent L’Irlandais restaurant and then embarked on a tour of the city in an electric Tuk Tuk. This was a real highlight of our time in Limoges, not just for the journey but thanks to the convivial commentary of our driver, Lionel. Like everyone that we met in Limoges, he was incredibly friendly and delighted to share stories, legends and even a little bit of gossip about life in the city.
Later that afternoon we headed to Aquapolis, a large swimming pool complex that is home to all manner of fun water-based activities including a wave pool, a lazy river and, during summer months, enormous inflatable slides.
For dinner we went to Les Échoppes Gogaille, a lively restaurant specialising in seasonal dishes using local products. They also sell delicious, homemade metre-long eclairs! Our hotel in Limoges was the charming Dupain & Dubeurre guesthouse run by two very welcoming brothers.
Day 2 Limoges
The Limoges Aquarium is housed within a former underground and vaulted reservoir built under orders from Napoleon III. Today it’s home to a diverse range of indigenous fish as well as species from all over the world. Particularly amusing for all of us were the “doctor fish” who nibbled on our hands.
For lunch we headed to Les Halles Centrales, the beautiful central covered market hall where some 40 producers sell everything from cheese and fish to vegetables and beer. Les Saveurs Limousines is the place to eat here but make sure to arrive early, this restaurant is always busy.
After a post lunch stroll in the fascinating neighbourhood of Le Quartier de la Boucherie, the old Butcher’s Quarter, we went to discover what makes Limoges porcelain so special.
Ateliers Arquié offers excellent guided tours that take visitors through every stage of the porcelain production process - they will also explain how you can tell if a dinner plate or teapot is authentic Limoges porcelain.
We were lucky that our visit to Limoges coincided with La Friche des Ponts, a summer food truck market set along the banks of the River Vienne, selling food from all over the world.
That night we stayed in a wonderfully unique lodge on the edge of the Parc Zoo du Reynou. Our lodge, one of six that form Les Lodges du Reynou, overlooked an animal enclosure home to a number of animals including some very friendly - and greedy - giraffes!
Day 3 Limoges & Gironde
After feeding Jimbo the Giraffe his breakfast we met our guide Manon who showed us around the Parc Zoo du Reynou. This wonderful wildlife park is brilliant for families; conservation is at its core and they offer a number of exciting activities where children can become a zoo keeper for the day or help to feed the animals.
That afternoon we drove from Limoges towards Bordeaux in the department of Gironde. Our first stop was Blaye, a historic town on the banks of the Gironde estuary. It’s famous for its 17th century citadel that was designed by the famous French military engineer Vauban. We toured the well-preserved military fortification first onboard the little white tourist train and later on two feet, enjoying moules frites at L’Auberge des Officiers.
Our home for the night was the Domaine de Canesse, a charming guest house in the countryside surrounded by vineyards.
Day 4 Gironde
Our day started with a visit to the Terres d’Oiseaux and a fascinating guided tour around a corner of this protected bird park that sits on one of the most important migration routes in France.
From Terres d’Oiseaux we headed south to the fascinating sociological experiment that is Darwin. Located on Bordeaux’s right bank, this eco-friendly example of a new ‘city’ and community has everything from co-working spaces and the largest organic dining hall in Europe to an indoor skate park and even an urban farm. It’s also got some very cool and colourful street art.
Late afternoon we travelled to the town of Créon where we embarked on a bike adventure along the Labépie cycle path with bikes from La Station de Velo Creon. This was no ordinary cycle route, however, this was a bike ride with a difference. The Terra Aventura app offers a number of cycle routes that combine geocaching, treasure hunting and cycling, which is a brilliant way to discover the countryside on two wheels
We spent the last night at the wonderful Château Du Payre, a beautiful château and vineyards that have been passed down from mother to daughter for the last five generations. The current owner is Valerie Labrousse Marcuzzi, an extraordinarily welcoming host, who took us on a tour of the vineyards, the cellars and through the wine production process. It was the perfect end to a perfect introduction to Nouvelle-Aquitaine.