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Discovering The Local Area

While many of our visitors are first attracted to the Haute-Vienne area by the quiet unspoiled countryside, which includes parts of two Regional Natural Parks (Perigord-Limousin and Millevaches) there are also a good number of interesting villages and towns, museums and historic monuments, to add variety to your visit.

Mortemart

The village of Mortemart is situated just 1km from our grounds. The village is within the region known as the ‘Monts de Blond’ and is officially classified as one of the ‘most beautiful villages in France’.

Mortemart can trace its origins back to a castle that was built here in 995 AD by the Duc de Mortemart, and around which the village originally developed – although little remains of the original castle today except the keep and a few rooms.

The centre of the village with its covered market is very pretty. The market hall dates back to the 17th century and was restored in recent years. Surrounding the market hall are the lovely stone houses of the village. Some of these are notable and attest to the prosperity of the village.

Note that Mortemart is a very small village and the only ‘plus beau village’ in the Haute-Vienne department so can get rather busy in the height of summer!

Monts De Blond

If you fancy more than just a stroll around our gardens and parkland, a short drive to the village of Blond may interest you.

The Monts de Blond region of Limousin is the most westerly part of the Massif Central and is a region of rolling hills, largely forested and with small fields. The Monts de Blond region is centred around the towns of Mortemart and Blond and also includes Chamboret, Cieux, Montrol-Sénard and Vaulry.

The region reaches its highest altitude, a little over 500 metres, near Blond. As well as the scenery the Monts de Blond are also known for the numerous dolmens and menhirs to be found here, a testament to the fact that the region has been occupied since prehistoric times.

To help preserve this environment for the future the region has now been classified as a protected natural site (site naturel classé).

Montrol Senard

Montrol Senard is less than 5 minutes drive from us.

It is a quaint little Limousin village whose buildings evoke the traditional life of a Limousin village in times gone by. As it is just a couple of kilometers from Mortemart, the only village classed among the “most beautiful villages in France” in Haute-Vienne it gets a fair few visitors in summer.

From the 2nd of April to the 2nd of November this normally sleepy village comes alive and volunteers open up many of the buildings to provide a view of traditional village life in the late 19th and early 20th century. The whole village becomes an ecomusée.

As you explore Montrol-Senard you will see the classrooms of the village school, houses, barns, bread ovens along with a cobblers, a blacksmiths and a forge. There is also a ‘grandmothers garden’ laid out as it would have been to feed a family.

Start your visit in the village school where you can pick up a free guide and be sure of entering the houses that are part of the eco-tour and not the villagers homes!  The visit is free and self-guiding though larger groups can arrange a guided tour. As you walk around Montrol-Senard the villagers are happy to show you the items on display and are very welcoming.

Inside the barn there are local products for sale and there is an art gallery. It really is a very pleasant way to pass a morning or afternoon. The whole tour is free but you can make a donation if you wish: there is a donations box in the schoolroom.

Bellac

Bellac is our nearest town, and just a short 15 minutes drive from Echérat.

It is a small market town with a long history based around the leather tanning industry that was important here during the Middle Ages.

Shopping & Activities

For our Gite customers this is where our nearest supermarkets are located for all those essentials during your stay. These are situated just outside the main town area. For those who wish to shop using ‘local producers’ you will find plenty of parking next to the tourist information centre. There are a range of shops as well as patisseries, boulangeries and boucheries.
After exploring the town you can head back to the bridge and take a stroll along the river banks. This is a great spot for a picnic on the riverside.

In season you can watch the local football and rugby teams. Watch a performance at the theatre

Every year between the end of June and the beginning of July, there is the national festival of Bellac, highlights of which are performances of theatre, cinema and music.

Exploring Bellac
The 13th century stone arched bridge across the tranquil River Vincou is a good place to start you visit, and to have a view across the town.

Heading into Bellac itself you will see, among other things, numerous ancient houses. Most of these date from the 15th to 17th centuries. You will also see the remains of part of the original defensive walls of the town, and an impressive 17th century town hall with small towers on two of the corners of the building.

The most important religious monument in Bellac is the Church of Notre-Dame, which stands at the highest point in Bellac and dominates the town skyline. Because of the extended period between work starting on construction of the church in the 12th century and its completion in the 15th century you can see elements of both roman and gothic style architecture.

Oradour Sur Glane

On 10 June 1944, the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in Nazi-occupied France was destroyed, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a German Waffen-SS company.

A new village was built nearby after the war, but French president Charles de Gaulle ordered the original maintained as a permanent memorial and museum.

APlace of memory and recollection, the martyred village and the Memory Center of Oradour sur Glane plunge us into a reflection on the atrocity that generates the war. The Center de la Mémoire is not a museum in the usual sense of the word, it is a place of information and collection.

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