is one of the 27 regions of France. It is composed of three départements: Corrèze, Creuse and the Haute-Vienne.
Situated largely in the Massif Central, as of January 1st 2008, the Limousin comprised 740,743 inhabitants on nearly 17 000 km2, making it the second least populated region of France after Corsica.
Forming part of the South-West of France, Limousin is bordered by the regions Centre to the north, Poitou-Charentes and Aquitaine to the west, Midi-Pyrénées to the south and Auvergne to the east. Limousin also forms part of Occitania.
The modern region of Limousin is essentially composed of two historical French provinces:
The Corrèze department in its entirety and the central and south-eastern part of Haute-Vienne. The old province of Limousin is entirely contained inside the modern Limousin region.
most of the Creuse department and the north of the Haute-Vienne. The old province of Marche is almost entirely contained inside the current Limousin region, with only a small part of Marche being now in the Centre region.
Beside these two main provinces, Limousin is also composed of small parts of other former provinces:
Angoumois: extreme south-west of Haute-Vienne
Poitou: extreme west of Haute-Vienne
Auvergne: extreme east of Creuse
Berry: extreme north of Creuse
Today the province of Limousin is the most populous part of the Limousin region. Limoges, the historical capital and largest city of the province of Limousin is the capital of the Limousin administrative region.
With a slowly rising population of just under 750,000, Limousin is the second least populous French region in Metropolitan France after Corsica. There are fewer inhabitants in Limousin than in the city of Marseille.
The population of Limousin is aging and, until 1999, it was declining. The Creuse department has the oldest population of any in France. Between 1999 and 2004 the population of Limousin increased slightly, reversing a decline for the first time in decades.
Limousin is an essentially rural region. Famed for some of the best beef farming in the world, herds of Limousin cattle—a distinctive chestnut red—are a common sight in the region. In addition to cattle, the region is also a major timber producing area.
Due to its rural locality it is also famed for its French Oak orchards, so prized for its distinct characters and flavors in wine fermentation that only vintner Rémy Martin has exclusive rights to their oak orchards. It is a partnership that is over 100 years old.
The regional capital, Limoges, was once an industrial power-base, world-renowned for its porcelain and is still a leader and innovator in electric equipment factories (which used porcelain as an insulator originally). However, large factories are now few in number.
Geography and climate
Bodies of Water
Some of the rivers belonging to the Loire basin run through the North, the West and the East of the region, waterways belonging to that of the Dordogne through the South. The region is crossed by two major rivers: the Dordogne and the Charente (which has its source in Haute-Vienne).
The Limousin region is almost entirely an upland area. The lowest land is in the northwest of the region (approximately 250 m above sea level) and the highest land is roughly in the southeast (approximately 1000 m above sea level). However, the greater part of the region is above 350 m. There are numerous important rivers in the Limousin such as the Dordogne, Vienne, Creuse and Cher. The region is well known for the high quality of its water and for offering first rate fishing.
Although summer temperatures often exceed 32 °C – and have even reached 42 °C – the Limousin region has a damper and milder climate than its neighbours. Winters are often long and cold, especially in the higher areas, and snow is not at all uncommon.
Shepherds working in Limousin needed protection from the cool damp winters and traditionally wore a cloak with a large hood, which lent its name to the Limousine in which early drivers wore a similar protective cape.
The area around Brive in the Corrèze has more than 2000 hours per year of sunshine, the same as the southern city of Toulouse.
Until the 1970s, Occitan was the primary language of rural areas. There remain several different Occitan dialects in use in Limousin, although their use is rapidly declining:
Auvergnat in the East/North-East
Languedocien in the Southern fringe of Corrèze
in the North, the Crescent transition area is sometimes considered as a separate dialect called Marchois