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French Villages: La Souterraine and Fromental

Updated on December 2, 2015

La Souterraine

La Souterraine is located North of the Limousinarea in France. It is a small town with over 5000 habitants. We arrived there one day almost by accident, as it was a sunny, wintry day and we were looking for new villages to explore near home.

We knew that la Souterraine had a train station as this is a main stop for the Limoges' train. What we didn't know was that it was a beautiful ancient town. It was our first time there and it was a nice surprise to see flowery road entries, old fortified walls and archways.

Commerce in the village is basic, a baker, a butcher, a few boutiques, flower shops and newsagents all along the main street. However, there is a weekly market in the town centre where you can buy from the local producers. There is also a cinema, a few restaurants and several picturesque cafes with their terraces on the main streets. An inviting place for a cake and a coffee on a sunny day.

La Souterraine

La Souterraine (Creuse, Fr), churchtower
La Souterraine (Creuse, Fr), churchtower | Source
La Souterraine, Porte Saint Jean
La Souterraine, Porte Saint Jean

La Souterraine


Among its tourist attractions, there is a church dating from the 11th century. The church was built by the Saint Martial monks and it was restored in 1850. This used to be a stop for the Santiago de Compostela pilgrims. On the outside there is a gallo-roman sanctuary.

La Porte Saint Jean

You cannot miss this. Built during the 13th century it is an entrance of one of the ancient walls surrounding the town. Almost 20 m. tall, the entrance is supported by two towers. This peculiar building was a prison until 1860.

The river Creuse is always present, not far away from the town and makes of La Souterraine a good place for kayaking, sailing, canoeing and fishing.

Getting there

Flying there: to Limoges Bellegarde airport. Daily flights from the UK couldn't be easier. The airport is 60 Km from La Souterraine.

Alternatively, the fast and efficient TGV train service operates from Paris to Limoges. It takes about 2h 30 m. from Paris.

By road: Paris 341 km. - Limoges 60 km. -

Fromental

Just coming out of La Souterraine we decided to visit the village of Fromental. The name in the map attracted my attention as it remainded me of Fromage (cheese) and Emmental. And as I tend to think with my tummy... we followed de road to Fromental.

Unfortunately, there was no cheese to be seen in this tiny village of less than 500 people. Fortunately though, there was an old church with magnificent stained glass windows, and facing the church we found a fairy tale castle. The Château de Fromental, a fortified manoir dating back to the 14th century. I am not sure if we were meant to enter or not, but the gates were open and there was not a person around the village to ask, so we just entered and toured around the gardens.

Dolmen de Bagnol in Fromental

On our way back from Fromental to the main motorway, by accident we found the Dolmen de Bagnol. An ancient construction like many scattered in France and the United Kingdom dating from the early Neolithic period (4000 to 3000 BC). A dolmen is a type of megalithic tomb usually consisting of at least three upright stones -megaliths- supporting a large horizontal stone. This gives the impression of a giant stone table.

When the night was approaching and we were starting to get worried about not finding our way back, I decided to knock on a door and ask for directions. I was lucky enough to find a very nice lady who not only drew a map but also tried to explain the directions in English. So with our homemade map we started our way back. But just when we thought that we were lost again the lady who had drawn the map for me surprised us by driving behind us! I suppose she was a bit worried that we might not find our way back, or maybe she had made a mistake on her map and just tried to catch up with us to correct it... Who knows. But thanks to her concern and help, we found our way back. Who said the French were not friendly?

Dolmen de Bagnol in Fromental

Dolmens and other Monoliths in Europe

Comments

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    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      7 years ago from France

      Les Trois Chenes: That is so right, there is never a dull moment in France, even if you are in the countryside, there is always a "fete", a market to discover, a brocante to explore, a festival or simply just friends visiting.

    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 

      7 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      I know of La Souterraine, but I've never been there. Your article tempts me to make a visit - in the spring.

      As for the Limousin being isolated! Isolated from what? We are two hours from Bordeaux, about 5 from Lyon, Paris and Spain and there are daily flights from all over Britain that takes less than an hour, costs little and are sometimes even FREE! I used to spend one and a half hours going from Ealing to Brixton when I lived in London. I totally agree with you, Princessa, that there is so much going on. My friends and I joke that there's "never a dull moment in Videix".

      Many thanks for an interesting article.

    • breathe2travel profile image

      breathe2travel 

      8 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      I long to visit France! Your hub makes my desire more intense! :)

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      8 years ago from France

      Loiseaux: I know what you mean, I had the same impression when I just arrived in the area. Now that I have settle here I have not enough time to keep up with all the social life involved in living in a small community. Yes, we don't have an array of restaurants, plays, cinemas, shopping centres and other faciities. But here people entertain themselves visiting each other, having family parties, cycling, fishing, local festivals, etc. Once you are part of the community you really discover what the area had to offer.

      The problem with most Brits who buy in central France -at least the ones I know- is that they isolate themselves. They don't make enough efforts to integrated in their communities, don't speak French, keep going back to Britain to but their groceries and usually keep themselves to a "Brit's circle" which in itself isolates them from the French.

    • profile image

      Loiseaux 

      8 years ago

      I have spent a night in La Souterraine and found it rather run down like much of the Creuse Department. They say in France "A man from Creuse is a man from nowhere" The influx of Brits buying their run down property was a boon for the area, but the novelty has worn off. Many Brits are wanting out, because of the distances involved and general isolation of the whole region of the Limousin. A shame!

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      9 years ago from France

      Hi Jon, thanks for stopping to read and comment. I will have a look at your hub, I am always on the hunt for new places to see.

    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 

      9 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi Princessa - very interesting hub, with great presentation. There is something special about many French villages. Check out my hub on The Lot valley if you have time - it really is something else, especially in Autumn, and full of fascinating places. Cheers, Jon Green

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Angela: You will not be dissapointed if you visit France. Most tourists think of France as Paris but there is certainly much much more to France than just Paris!

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 

      10 years ago from Around the USA

      You have definitely convinced me to make France a place that I must visit. I love the concrete evidence of ancient history. The dolmen just fascinates me.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Maybe I shoud start planning French tours for the summer... hubbers specials, after all we already have plenty of room at home!

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 

      10 years ago from London UK

      I would like to come on tour too:)

      Ooh la la lovely hub:)

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      So interesting, Princessa :) I love the photos.

    • profile image

      ben 

      10 years ago

      Hi Princessa,

      In that case I'd better start practicing up on my french. oui oui mademmoiselle. LOL!!! Okay so mabye all i know in french is pass me the french fries please. LOL!!!

      Bye Ben

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Thanks Ben, you should visit France... I might even show you around some of my favorite places.

    • profile image

      Ben 

      10 years ago

      Hello Princessa,

      Very nice hub you created. I would love to visit France one day, and maybe you could show me around. :) Keep up with the great hubs.

      Ben

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