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This article is about the French commune. For the Canadian city, see Limoges, Ontario.
The city hall
The city hall
Coat of arms of Limoges
Coat of arms
Limoges is located in France
Coordinates: 45°50′07″N 1°15′45″E / 45.8353°N 1.2625°E / 45.8353; 1.2625Coordinates: 45°50′07″N 1°15′45″E / 45.8353°N 1.2625°E / 45.8353; 1.2625
Country France
Region Limousin
Department Haute-Vienne
Arrondissement Limoges
Canton Chief town of 16 cantons
Intercommunality Limoges Métropole
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Alain Rodet
 • Land1 77.45 km2 (29.90 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 • Population2 139,026
 • Population2 density 1,800/km2 (4,600/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 87085 / 87000
Elevation 209–431 m (686–1,414 ft)
(avg. 294 m or 965 ft)
Website http://www.ville-limoges.fr/

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Limoges (French pronunciation: ​[li.mɔʒ], Lemòtges or Limòtges in the Limousin dialect of Occitan) is a city and commune, the capital of the Haute-Vienne department and the administrative capital of the Limousin région in west-central France.

Limoges is known for its medieval enamels (Limoges enamels) on copper, for its 19th-century porcelain (Limoges porcelain) and for its oak barrels which are used for Cognac production.


Ancient and medieval history[edit]

Scarce remains of pre-urban settlements have been found in the area of Limoges. The capital of the Gaulish people of the Lemovices, who lived in the area, was probably some kilometres south-east of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat.

The city proper was founded as Augustoritum by the Romans, around 10 BC: "rito-" is Gaulish for "ford". The foundation was part of the reorganization of the province by the emperor Augustus, hence the new name. The Roman city included an amphitheatre measuring 136 x 115 metres, a theatre, a forum, baths and several sanctuaries. According to tradition, a temple consecrated to Venus, Diana, Minerva and Jupiter was located near the modern cathedral. The city was on the typical Roman square plan, with two main streets crossing in the centre. It had a Senate and a currency of its own, a sign of its importance in the imperial age. Later, like many towns and cities in Gaul, it was renamed after the tribe (here the Lemovices) whose chief town it was; "Lemovices" changed into "Limoges", and "Lemovicinus" for the area around changed into "Limousin".

Limoges was evangelized by Saint Martial, who came to the city around 250 with two companions, Alpinianus and Austriclinienus. However, in the late 3rd century it was increasingly abandoned, due to unsafe conditions created by the invasions of various Germanic tribes. The population was concentrated instead in a more easily fortifiable site, the modern Puy Saint-Étienne, which is the centre of the modern Limoges. Starting from the construction of the Abbey of St. Martial (9th century), another settlement grew around the tomb of the saint, while a third area, next to the residence of the viscount (the future Castle of Saint Martial), seems to have been populated from the 10th century.

Starting from the 11th century, thanks to the presence of the Abbey of St. Martial and its large library, Limoges became a flourishing artistic centre. It also was home to an important school of medieval music composition, which is usually called the St. Martial School; its most famous member was the 13th-century troubadour Bertran de Born.

Limoges enamel ciborium with champlevé enamel, and center rim in pseudo-Kufic script, circa 1200.[1]

In the 13th century, at the peak of its splendour, central Limoges consisted of two fortified settlements.

  • The town proper, with a new line of walls encompassing the Vienne River, inhabited mainly by clerks and the connected workers. It has a bridge named after Saint-Étienne, built by the bishops, and a developed port. Sacked in 1370, it never recovered entirely.
  • The castle, with 12 m-high walls, including the abbey and controlled by the abbot, sometimes in contrast with the bishop-ruled town. Traces of the walls can still be seen in the city's centre.

Outside the lines of walls were the popular quarters.

In 1370, Limoges was occupied by Edward, the Black Prince, who massacred some 3,000 residents, according to Froissart. See Massacre of Limoges. However, Froissart's account is described in Jonathan Sumption's account of the war as "exaggerated and embroidered with much imaginary detail." Citing a monk of St. Martial's Abbey, Sumption posits that a more reliable figure for the number killed is around 300 people, "perhaps a sixth of the normal population," with another 60 members of the garrison of 140 dead as well.[2]

Modern history[edit]

The city and castle were united in 1792 to form the single city of Limoges. During the French Revolution several religious edifices, considered symbols of the Ancien Régime, were destroyed by the population: these included the Abbey of St. Martial itself.

Some years later the porcelain industry started to develop, favoured by the presence of kaolinite which was discovered near Limoges in 1768.[3] Many of the inhabitants became employed in the new sector or in connected activities (including the lumbering of wood needed for firing the porcelain) in manufacture and exporting needed for European distribution of Limoges Boxes, dinnerware, and other porcelain wares.

Yale Mobile Hospital Unit No. 39 stationed at the Limoges factory, Christmas, 1917

In the 19th century Limoges saw strong construction activity, which included the destruction and rebuilding of much of the city centre. This was necessary, as the town was regarded as unhealthy because of prostitution.[citation needed] The unsafe conditions of the poorer population is highlighted by the outbreak of several riots, including that of July–November 1830; April 1848 and early 1905. The first French confederation of workers, Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) (General Confederation of Labour), was created in Limoges in 1895.

During the Holocaust, many Jews from Alsace were evacuated to Limoges.


The city is known for its basketball team CSP Limoges which became European champion in 1993. It was the first French club team to become European champion in a collective sport.[4][5] The team currently plays in Pro A, the French second basketball professional division.


Limoges experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) common to much of Western France. Most precipitation occurs between October and February. On 27 December 1999, winds reached 148 km/h. On average, the city receives 41 days of frost and seven days of snow each winter. In June, July and August, precipitation tends to come only from violent thunderstorms which form over the Bay of Biscay.

Climate data for Limoges
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.3
Average low °C (°F) 1.5
Precipitation mm (inches) 79.9


Population city: 139,502 (limougeauds), urban area: 281,570.[when?] At the 1999 census, the population was 133,968.[6]

Main sights[edit]

The Cathedral of Limoges
Bridge of Saint Martial
Gare des Bénédictins
  • The Crypt of Saint Martial, 10th century, including the tomb of the bishop who evangelized the city[7] It was discovered in the 1960s.
  • Remains of the Gallo-Roman amphitheatre, one of the largest in the ancient Gaul.[citation needed]
  • The Gothic Limoges Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges), begun in 1273 and finished only in 1888. It is noted for a fine rood loft built in 1534 and for the partly octagonal bell tower. The main artistic works are a Renaissance rood screen and the tomb of the bishop Jean de Langeac, with sculpted scenes of the Apocalypse.
  • The Chapelle Saint-Aurélien (14th–17th centuries). It includes the relics of St. Aurelian, the second bishop of Limoges, and has medieval statues and Baroque works of art.
  • The church of St-Pierre-du-Queyroix, begun in the 12th century
  • Church of St-Michel-des-Lions, begun in 1364. It houses the relics of St. Martial and has stained-glass windows from the 15th–16th century. The most striking feature is the 65 m-high tower, with a spire surmounted by a big bronze ball.
  • The bridges of Saint Martial (dating from the Roman era) and of St-Etienne (13th century).
  • The Limoges Fine Arts Museum (Musée des Beaux-Arts), housed in the 18th-century bishops' palace ('Palais de l'Évêché').[8]
  • The railway station, Gare de Limoges Bénédictins, inaugurated in 1929.
  • The Château de La Borie (17th century), at 4 km (2.5 mi) from the city. It is home to the Centre Culturel de Rencontre de La Borie et l'Ensemble Baroque de Limoges.
  • The remains of the 12th-century Castle of Chalucet, 10 km (6.2 mi) outside the city. During the Hundred Years' War it was a base of the bands of pillagers which ravaged the country.
  • The city's botanical gardens include the Jardin botanique de l'Evêché and the Jardin botanique alpin "Daniella".
  • The University of Limoges was founded in 1968.[9]

Art and Literature[edit]

The murder of Thomas Becket, Limoges enamel, 12th century, Louvre Museum

"The Marketplace at Limoges" is the name of a section of Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky.

In 1768,[3] kaolin, a rock rich in fine, white clay which is used for making porcelain, was discovered at Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche, near Limoges. Under the impetus of the progressive economist Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune, who had been appointed intendant of this impoverished and isolated region, a new ceramics industry was developed, and Limoges porcelain became famous during the 19th century. However, Limoges porcelain is a generic term for porcelain produced in Limoges rather than at a specific factory. More than 50% of all porcelain made in France comes from Limoges[3]

Limoges is mentioned in T.S. Eliot's poem Gerontion (London 1919), lines 23 to 25:

'...Mr. Silvero/ With caressing hands, at Limoges/ Who walked all night in the next room.'

Eliot's compatriot and mentor Ezra Pound visited Limoges in 1912 when researching the landscape and the work of the 12th-century troubadours. As he states in his essay Troubadours: Theirs Sorts and Conditions: '...a man may walk the hill roads and river roads from Limoges and Charente to Dordogne and Narbonne and learn a little, or more than a little, of what the country meant to the wandering singers...'

There is also a reference to Limoges in Jean-Paul Sartre's novel Nausea, near the middle of the book in the Shrove Tuesday section, when the magistrate says: "I had a similar case at the beginning of my career. It was in 1902. I was deputy magistrate at Limoges..."


The main railway station of Limoges is the Gare de Limoges-Bénédictins. It offers direct connections with Paris, Lille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lyon and several regional destinations. The motorway A20 connects Limoges with Vierzon and Paris to the north, and Brive-la-Gaillarde and Toulouse to the south. The nearest airport is Limoges – Bellegarde Airport.

Urban transport in Limoges and its metropolitan area is operated by Société de transports en commun de Limoges Métropole (STCL). The Limoges urban bus network includes the Limoges trolleybus system, one of only four such systems currently operating in France.

Notable people[edit]

Limoges was the birthplace of

Twin towns[edit]

Fountain and Carousel at Place de la République

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Louvre museum notice". Louvre.fr. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Sumption, Jonathan. 2009. The Hundred Years War III: Divided Houses. 82–83
  3. ^ a b c "Limoges". Facstaff.uindy.edu. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  4. ^ http://www.euroleague.net/news/i/9066/180/item
  5. ^ http://www.humanite.fr/node/40345
  6. ^ Limoges at INSEE (French)
  7. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Martial". Newadvent.org. 1 October 1910. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  8. ^ http://www.museebal.fr/en
  9. ^ Université de Limoges website (English)

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limoges — Please support Wikipedia.
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