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Welcome to LIMOGES
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Information about LIMOGES LIMOGES is not a city that calls for a long stay, but it is worth a look for a magnificent train station and the craft industries that made the city a household name: enamel in the Middle Ages and, since the eighteenth century, china, including some of the finest ever produced. If these appeal, then the city's unique museum collections - and its Gothic cathedral - will reward a visit. But it has to be said that the industry today seems a spent tradition, hard hit by recession and changing tastes among the rich. The local kaolin (china clay) mines that gave Limoges china its special quality are exhausted, and the workshops survive mainly on the tourist trade. The Cathédrale St-Étienne , a landmark for miles around, was begun in 1273 and planned on the model of the cathedral of Amiens, though only the choir, completed in the early thirteenth century, is pure Gothic. The rest of the building was added piecemeal over the centuries, the western part of the nave not until 1876. The most striking external feature is the sixteenth-century facade of the north transept, built in full Flamboyant style with elongated arches, clusters of pinnacles and delicate tracery in window and gallery. At the west end of the nave, the tower, erected on a Romanesque base that had to be massively reinforced to bear the weight, has octagonal upper storeys, in common with most churches in the region. It once stood as a separate campanile and probably looked the better for it. Inside, the effects are much more pleasing, and the rose stone looks warmer than on the weathered exterior. The sense of soaring height is accentuated by all the upward-reaching lines of the pillars, the net of vaulting ribs, the curling, flame-like lines repeated in the arcading of the side chapels and the rose window, and, above all, as you look down the nave, by the narrower and more pointed arches of the choir. The best of the city's museums - with its showpiece collections of enamelware dating back as far as the twelfth century - is the Musée Municipal de l'Évêché in the old bishop's palace next to the cathedral. There's an interesting progression to be observed in the museum, from the simple, sober, Byzantine-influenced champlevé, to the later, especially seventeenth- and eighteenth-century work that used a far greater range of colours and indulged in elaborate virtuoso portraiture. By the nineteenth century, however, the spirit and vigour had dissipated, and although there are contemporary artisans in the city using the medium, their work, too - judging from this display - is not much more successful. There is also an exhibition of the wartime Resistance housed in an outbuilding opposite the museum's main entrance. Outside, if the weather is good, the well-laid-out and interesting botanical garden is an inviting prospect, descending gracefully towards the River Vienne. In the garden's northern corner an old refectory now houses the excellent Cité des Métiers et des Arts displaying pieces - mostly carpentry - by France's top crafts' guild members. Over to the west of the cathedral is the partly renovated old quarter of the town. Make your way through to rue de la Boucherie, for a thousand years the domain of the butchers' guild, and today featuring several good restaurants. The dark, cluttered chapel of St-Aurélien , with a delicate fourteenth-century cross outside, belongs to them, while one of their former shophouses makes an interesting little museum, the Maison de la Boucherie , At the top of the street is the market in place de la Motte and, to the right, partly hidden by adjoining houses, the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century church of St-Michel-des-Lions , named after the two badly weathered Celtic lions guarding the south door and topped by one of the best towers and spires in the region. The inside is dark and atmospheric, with two beautiful, densely coloured fifteenth-century windows either side of the choir, one of which - in the south aisle - depicts the Tree of Jesse. From place de la Motte, rue du Clocher leads to rue Jean-Jaurès, with the post office a couple of blocks up to the left. Straight across, rue St-Martial leads past place de la République - where the fourth-century crypt of the long-vanished Abbey of St-Martial, containing the saint's massive sarcophagus, was discovered during building operations in the 1960s - to the church of St-Pierre-du-Queyroix under another typically Limousin belfry. The interior, partly twelfth-century (the exterior was remodelled in the sixteenth century), gains a sombre strength from the massive round pillars which still support the roof. Like the cathedral, it has a slightly pink granite glow. There is more fine stained glass here, including a fine window at the end of the south aisle depicting the Dormition of the Virgin, signed by the great enamel artist Jean Pénicault in 1510. Limoges is renowned the world over for its porcelain, a craft well represented in the Musée Adrien-Dubouché, west of the old quarter on place Winston-Churchill. The collection includes samples of the local product and china displays from around the world, as well as various celebrity services ordered for the likes of Napoléon Bonaparte, Charles and Di, and sundry French royals. The exhibits are well laid out, with explanatory panels describing the processes for making the different wares, and form a much more interesting display than you might expect. The town is built on high ground overlooking the River Vienne, with a small, attractive city centre enclosed by modern boulevards. The cathedral stands directly above the river, with the main commercial streets behind it. The magnificent gare des Bénédictins and neighbouring gare routière lie slightly off to the northeast, connected to the chestnut-shaded place Jourdan by avenue de Gaulle. The nicest places to stay are the conveniently central and atmospheric Hôtel de la Paix , in the quietest corner of place, and the more upmarket Jeanne d'Arc. Limoges has an abundance of good and not too expensive places to eat . Three places for a light lunch are the friendly Le Croquembouche crêperie, near the cathedral, La Louisiane , a salon de thé on place d'Aine, and Le Khédive brasserie. For something more substantial, join the locals round communal tables for a convivial lunch at Chez François in the central market hall. For lunch or dinner the rather posh Brasserie Le Versailles , also on place d'Aine, makes a good choice, but for a real treat of subtle and sophisticated cuisine, there's no better place than L'Amphitryon , opposite the chapel of St-Aurélien. In the same price range and practically next door, Les Petits Ventres will delight lovers of brain, brawn, tongue and other unmentionable cuts - though they also do more everyday dishes and even a vegetarian platter. For drinks at any time of the day, people sit out in the not very attractive place de la République; a nicer option is lively place Denis-Dussoubs, a short walk further west, where you'll find fine beers on tap at the St Martial micro-brewery. In more traditional vein, Le Café des Anciennes Majorettes de la Baule , 27 rue Haute-Vienne, is a relaxed place offering concerts on Friday evenings, while the Lord John Pub complete with darts - is a popular hangout, with live jazz In late September, there is an interesting and important gathering of writers, dramatists and musicians from other French-speaking countries at the Festival International des Théâtres Francophones . Gourmets should make sure their visit coincides with the third Friday in October, for the Frairie des Petits Ventres , when the entire population turns out to gorge on everything from pig's trotters to sheep's testicles in the rue de la Boucherie. Otherwise, there is the Dance émoi contemporary dance festival every two years in January, the next one being in 2004.
 
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FRANCE

General Information
Capital: Paris
Area: 545,630 sq km (339,054 sq miles) (not including overseas territories).2
Population: 65,073,482
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin plugs are widely used
IDD: +33
Emergency number: 17
Timezone: GMT +1 Hr (+2 Hrs MAR-OCT)

Language
Language: French (official). Rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)

Government
Government: Republic.

Religion
Religion: 80% Catholic, Muslim and Protestant denominations

Health
Health: The following vaccinations are recommended: Tetanus.

Currency
Currency: Euro (EUR) 1.00 = 100 Cents

Exchange Rate
Exchange Rate: All 100.00 = USD = 66.8534 EUR GBP = 110.480 EUR CHF = 661543

Business Hours
Business Hours: Mon-Fri: 09.00-12.00 and 14.00-18.00

Speed Limit
Speed Limit: Cities: 50 km/h, Outside Cities: 90 km/h, Dual carriageways: 110 km/h, Motorways: 130 km/h

Traffic
Traffic: Traffic drives on the right. Minimum age 18 years. Wearing of seat belts is compulsory in front and back seats.

Driving License
Driving License: National license

National Holidays
National holidays: Jan 1 New Year"s Day, Easter (variable), 1 May Workers" Day, 8 May Victory Day, 25 May Ascensión, Jul 14 Bastille Day, Ago 15 Ascension Day, , Nov 1 All Saints" Day, Nov 11 Armistice Day, Dec 25 Christmas Day

Climate
Climate: The south of France has a warm Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Strong winds, known as la Mistral, can occur in the Cote d"Azur, Provence and in the Rhone valley particularly over the winter and spring. Northern France, including Paris, has a temperate climate with warm summers, cold winters and rainfall throughout the year. The western coast, is milder and summer days are generally very hot.

Temperatures
 
Temperatures:
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
A3471014171919161174
P564635425754596455505150
S235678876422
A=Aver. Daily Temp. (°C)
P=Precipitation (mm)
S=Sunshine (Hrs/Month)

Mobile Network
Mobile Network: GSM 900 / 1800 3G 2100

GPS
GPS: 48 52 N, 2 19.59 E

Shopping Hours
Shopping Hours: Department stores are open 09.00-20.00. Most shops are closed between 12.00 and 14.30. Food shops are open 07.00-19.00/19.30. Some food shops (particulary bakers) are open Sunday mornings, in which case they will probably be closed on Monday. Many shops are closed all day or half-day Monday. Hypermarkets are normally open from 9.00 to 19.00/20.00, sometimes until 21.00 or 22.00.


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