1. Its location
The ground which the station stands on was once occupied by a leprosarium (today place Maison Dieu). It was adjoined to the Benedictine monastery from which it takes its name.
2. The clock tower
This towering 67-metre high tower is taller than that of the Gare de Lyon in Paris. It embraces a clock with four faces linked together so all indicate the same time.
3. The clock
The clock comprises 4 faces featuring Roman numerals, except for the 4, written as IIII and not IV to pursue the clock’s stylistic harmony. Highly-original: the clocks are always 2 minutes ahead of time to ensure traveller punctuality!
4. Its nicknames
Like the Eiffel Tower, the criticized monument was given various nicknames: “thousand-legged giant”, “block of lard” and even “camel hump”.
5. The concourse
Beneath the concourse dome, each wall angle features an allegorical sculpture symbolizing one of the four French provinces served by the Paris-Orléans railway company: Limousin, Brittany, Touraine and Gascogne. Each is illustrated with its own emblems. Limousin is represented by a woman carrying a porcelain vase, ears of wheat, chestnuts and chestnut leaves.
6. Underground passages
Between 1942 and 1945, the station was occupied by German troops. The Germans used an underground passage, located under the railway tracks, as a passive defence shelter. The sign “Réservé à la Wehrmacht” (Wehrmacht only) is still visible.
7. Above the tracks
Limoges station is rather unique in that it is built above the tracks and not along them like other stations. A 96 m by 70 m platform, laid perpendicularly, 7 metres above ten railway tracks. The project required over 10,000 m3 of concrete, 1,800 t of steel, 2,800 m3 of stone and 200 labourers.
8. 18 May 1929
The station was inaugurated on 2 July 1929 but the first train ticket was sold there at 6am on 18 May 1929. In 2019, Limoges-Bénédictins train station will blow out its 90 candles.
In 2008, Jean-Pierre Jeunet chose Limoges station to shoot the commercial for Chanel N°5 perfume: “Train de nuit”, starring French actress Audrey Tautou.
10. The fire
Like Notre-Dame de Paris in 2019, Limoges station was almost destroyed by fire in 1998. The fire occurred in the dome which was being restored. It took over a year to rebuild it to its original design.
Did you know that Limoges train station has a song dedicated to it? “Limoges Opéra Rock”, the musical fresco, devotes a song to the station: “Limoges Bénédictins”.
Listen in, track 19