The Limousin region is a sparsely populated rural heartland and a destination that is off the radar for most holidaymakers. Life here remains quite traditional compared to the cosmopolitan cities and more popular regions of France, though the regional capital of Limoges is world-famous for the porcelain and decorated enamel it has produced since the 1700s. The city's museums hold displays of the area's best-known ware, including the Musée National Adrien-Dubouché, which houses more than 10,000 exhibits documenting the history of ceramic trade.
As the gateway to the surrounding region, trains arrive in the city's magnificent art deco Gare des Bénédictins direct from Paris, making it an easy addition to a Central France holiday. Limoges' other highlights include the Cathédrale St-Etienne, which started life in 1273, and the city's beautiful botanical gardens. It also hosts a number of festivities throughout the year including the Festival International des Francophonies, a gathering of artists, writers and musicians from French-speaking countries across the globe. And for foodies, the Frairie des Petits Ventres food fair tests taste buds with a selection of the region's more refined delicacies.
Otherwise, a trip to Limousin is dominated by its green, hilly and at times rather wet countryside. Popular with walkers, cyclists and other outdoor sports enthusiasts, there's plenty to explore in the region's rugged landscape and there are enough campsites, small inns and gîtes to go round. A hushed and more modest French region, dotted with hamlets and fields of Limousin cattle, Limousin is quieter than the more popular regions of the Loire Valley and Burgundy, and it's all the better for it.