Some things to do and see Display in Printer friendly layout

The Creuse is a beautiful rustic area characterised by woodland, pastures and water - a land of lakes, streams and rivers, dotted with small herds of cattle - the traditional brown Limousin, and the creamy Charolais and Blonde d'Aquitaine. 'Our' part is known as La Marche.
These curious 'blondes' line up to inspect their evening visitor

These curious young 'blondes' line up to inspect their evening visitor

One of the many tranquil lakes near Chénérailles

One of the many tranquil lakes near Chénérailles

Storybook castles are there for the finding, too, if you stray off the main routes, many of them now occupied by private individuals, though others are open to the public. A few minutes away by car, you will find the sympathetically-restored Château de Villemonteix, full of ancient Aubusson tapestries, which is open daily. More information about many of the chateaux is available on the Creuse Tourism website.

Our bedrooms take their names from these four Creusois castles: Villemonteix, Mazeau, Ste-Feyre and Arfeuille.
Château de Villemonteix - beautifully restored and open to the public

Château de Villemonteix - beautifully restored and
open to the public from Easter to the end of October.

Château de Mazeau - some of these stones date back to Roman times

Château de Mazeau - some of these stones date back to Roman times.
Château de Ste-Feyre - built in the classical style

Château de Ste-Feyre - built in the classical style around 1760 on the site
of an older castle. It's open to the public from June 15 to Sept 15.

Château d'Arfeuille has been in the same family since the 15th century.

Château d'Arfeuille has been in the same family since the 15th century.
It's open from 1st July to 31st August 2007 from 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm.
Mornings by appointment.

Chénérailles was important in Roman times and the area is criss-crossed with ancient roads and pathways that beckon you off the straight and narrow if you enjoy walking. They are often rather overgrown and can be muddy in wet weather, so you'll probably need boots and a stick. However, the feeling of turning back the clock a century or two is well worth the effort.
This Roman road can be traced on a map

This Roman road can be traced on a map

The Rue des Morts was used to carry the dead to their funerals

The Rue des Morts was used to carry the dead to their funerals

Look out for signs of the past in the multitude of stone wayside crosses, some of which re-use materials dating back to Roman or medieval times. Old wells and 'fontaines' are picturesque too.
This hidden cross has strange carvings

This hidden cross has strange carvings

This beautifully-kept well in the Commune of St-Dizier-La-Tour also has a trough for animals

This beautifully-kept well also has a trough for animals
This cross in the Commune of St-Dizier-La-Tour has a Roman domestic altar as its base

This cross has a Roman domestic altar as its base

Chénérailles has a large forest where there is a holiday village, tennis courts, a fishing lake and a large area of water with a beach, set aside for public swimming. There are many paths in the forest, including a health trail where wooden 'gymnastic' equipment is placed at intervals for the more athletic walkers to enjoy. The forest is commercial as well as a public amenity and the conifer sections are felled at regular intervals.
Trees from the forest at Chénérailles are cropped for timber

Trees from the forest are cropped for timber

The beach and pool in springtime

The beach and pool in springtime

Not all the forest at Chénérailles is filled with pine trees

Not all the forest is filled with pine trees
The Creuse is famous for the skill of its masons, who spent most of the year working away from home creating the most beautiful buildings in France, like the Louvre and the Panthéon in Paris. They built their own granite homes with the same mastery, so even the most simple country homes are constructed to a very high standard. The village of Masgot is a monument to the eccentric mason François Michaud who sculpted highly original and naive subjects on walls and houses. And thinking of strange stones, the Pierres Jaumâtres take fantastic shapes, like sleepy dinosaurs, in their hilltop eyrie near to Boussac and Toulx-Ste-Croix.
Built by the masons of the Creuse

Built by the masons of the Creuse

Some of Michaud's strange creatures at Masgot

Some of Michaud's strange creatures
Balancing act... the Pierres Jaumâtres near to Boussac and Toulx-Ste-Croix

Balancing act...

Chénérailles is well-known for its colourful twice-yearly horse fair which attracts thousands of people to the town for a day out. The streets and market place are filled with stalls selling goods of all sorts including plants, live poultry, clothes, hats, bags, pinafores, household linen, cheese, tools, beds, boots, clogs and bottles of wine. In the large arena dedicated to the Foire aux Chevaux you will find scores of equines from Shetland ponies and donkeys to Percherons waiting for a buyer, as well as traders selling everything you might need for your horse.
A proud spotted stallion at the Horse Fair in Chénérailles

A proud spotted stallion

Two pals waiting for a buyer at the Horse Fair in Chénérailles

Two pals waiting for a buyer

I'm only little...

I'm only little...

A mule follows reluctantly

A mule follows reluctantly

One of the streets of Chénérailles filled with stalls

One of the streets filled with stalls

Shoppers out for a bargain in Chénérailles

Shoppers out for a bargain

The town also stages a fortnight of carriage driving events during May (including a timed obstacle event in the forest) and other equestrian competitions. Watching a carriage powered by a team of four heavy horses negotiating an obstacle course at speed and feeling the ground shake under their hooves is an experience not to be missed!
Carriage driving in the forest outside Chénérailles

Carriage driving in the forest

Mare and foal

Mare and foal
Lots of horsepower...

Lots of horsepower...

A pleasant cycle ride or car drive away is the lovely village of Moutier d'Ahun, where a 12th century bridge bestrides the calm waters of the River Creuse and the former abbey contains 17th century carved woodwork of exquisite quality. Also, close to the bridge is an extensive museum of old tools from a multitude of crafts.
The 12th century bridge over the River Creuse at Moutier d'Ahun with the abbey in the background

The 12th century bridge at Moutier d'Ahun with the abbey in the background

Yokes for oxen in the tool museum at Moutier d'Ahun

Yokes for oxen in the tool museum
Aubusson is a fascinating town, steeped in the tradition of tapestry-making. In the last 50 years the art has been revitalised and many strikingly beautiful modern works are now made using the old methods. You could easily spend a day wandering round the museums, exhibitions, workshops and shops - but you'd probably need to take out a second mortgage to actually buy a tapestry...
The old heart of Aubusson down by the River Creuse

The heart of Aubusson

A highly-skilled weaver at the Maison du Vieux Tappissier

A highly-skilled weaver at the Maison du Vieux Tappissier
Felletin is equally proud of its tapestry and there is a excellent display in the old church which has now been modernised with stunning stained glass windows.
The centre of Felletin

The centre of Felletin

Modern stained glass window

Modern stained glass window
A humbler church, but impressive in its own right, is that of St Dizier and St Blaise in the hamlet of St Dizier (in the commune of St Dizier la Tour), a couple of kilometres from Chénérailles. The unusual 17th century paintings on the ceiling have earned it a place in the list of national mouments. During 2014 extensive restoration work was started to restore and preserve the unique interior of the building. The keys are held at the former auberge opposite.
Church of St Dizier & St Blaise in the Commune of St-Dizier-La-Tour

Church of St Dizier & St Blaise

One of the many C17 paintings on the wooden ceiling

One of the many C17 paintings on the wooden ceiling
C17 painting on wooden ceiling in St Dizier church

C17 painting on wooden ceiling

If you come to Chénérailles any time from May to October you will be sure to find a brocante taking place each weekend somewhere in the area. A cross between an antiques fair and a car-boot sale, these annual brocantes and vides greniers are organised by many communities and usually result in a tempting array of stalls taking up most of the town or village centre. Often there are added attractions like a local band, traditional country dancing or even a visit from an old-fashioned threshing machine. To discover what's on where, have a look at
Brocantes France.
Country dancing in traditional costume

Country dancing in traditional costume

Threshing machine harks back to the old farming methods

Threshing machine harks back to the old farming methods
A colourful band from Jarnages entertains shoppers at a brocante

A colourful band entertains shoppers at a brocante

Stalls fill Gouzon town centre

Stalls fill Gouzon town centre


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