One of the three departments that constitute the region of Limousin, Corrèze is named after the main river that runs through its centre. Its main industry is farming and with over a third of its land being farmed for arable produce it is a uniquely rural area unspoiled by tourism. Corrèze has a beautiful and varied landscape and with its winding rivers, lakes and gentle hills it has an unrivalled natural charm. Locals believe the department to be one of the country's best kept secrets but with its beautiful countryside and wealth of attractions it seems unlikely that it will stay a secret for much longer.
The history of Corrèze dates back to the Palaeolithic period and signs of prehistoric man have been found in caves near to the town of Brive. In more recent years Corrèze was a site of intense French resistance and in August 1944 German troops underwent a series of attacks by local resistance fighters. Today the department is marked by a series of monuments commemorating various significant historical events. There is a good collection of museums across Corrèze that tell the story of the department's interesting and varied history.
The climate in Corrèze is influenced by the Atlantic, with warm dry summers, cold wet winters and plenty of snow-fall in the hillier areas.
Tulle is the capital of Corrèze and famous for its lace and accordion production which still exist in the town today. Every Wednesday there is a vibrant market where visitors can find examples of Tulle lace, clothing and other local produce. Set along the banks of the River Corrèze, the town's centre-point is the Romanesque and Gothic cathedral. It is also well worth visiting the last working accordion factory in the town where visitors can witness the instrument being made and listen to demonstrations of accordion music.
The town of Brive-la-Gaillarde is one of the department's most thriving and popular towns and although there is plenty to see and do the town has remained unspoilt by the excesses of tourism. The name Brive literally means brave or fortified and testifies to various times of conflict that have occurred throughout the town's history. Visitors to the town can stroll around the boutiques and markets and admire a wealth of grand historical monuments such as the 14th century Saint-Liberal Chapel.
In addition to its main towns, Corrèze is dotted with numerous picturesque villages that are well worth visiting. The 'pink village' of Collonges-la-Rouges is surrounded by chestnut trees and dotted with a cluster of redstone houses, pink turrets and an ancient church that was once a resting point for pilgrims. Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne is a delightful medieval village and Treignac has an impressive Gothic bridge that has remained standing since the 12th century. The village of Uzerche is one of the prettiest villages in the department and is encircled by the Vezere River which, together with the towns huge ramparts, made it unassailable in times of conflict.
Not quite a village but a small town, Arnac-Pompadour is best known for its chateau which is home to a stud farm that was created by King Louis XV in 1761. The castle is not open to the public but there are free guided tours around the stables where the Anglo-Arab breed of stallions are kept.
For natural attractions, the Gouffe de Padirac is an unmissable series of underground lakes and caves and a world-renowned natural phenomenon. The caves are open to the public with an underground boat ride taking visitors along the network of fascinating lakes. Another site of natural interest is Gimel-les-Cascades, an expanse of gushing waterfalls where the River Montane drops some 130 metres.
Museums, Galleries and Culture
Situated in Brive, the Musee Labenche is a fascinating museum of art and history that tells the story of Brive, its history and traditions through its permanent collection of art and artefacts and a range of interesting temporary exhibitions.
Situated in Terrasson Lavilledieu at the border of the Corrèze department is the Bovetti chocolate factory. This is a workshop and museum where visitors can learn about the history of chocolate production, witness chocolate demonstrations and even taste a sample of the world-renowned Bovetti chocolate.
The Adventure Park of Aubazine is an exciting activity centre that has five aerial trails through the trees that are suitable for all age groups. The Val Adventure is a similar idea, situated in Lanobre, while the Airborne activity centre in Monceau-sur-Dordogne offers kite-flying, hang-gliding and paragliding.
Food and Drink
Corrèze has plenty of good restaurants offering excellent examples of the local cuisine as well as numerous markets that sell the department's local farm produce. Corrèze is best known for its farcidures, a type of meat and potato dumpling, tourtous (buckwheat pancakes), chanterelle mushrooms and truffles which provide an ideal accompaniment to the delicious Limousin beef. The department's straw wine is very popular with locals and liqueurs made from berries and fruits provide a perfect after-dinner treat.
Corrèze has a number of wine cellars but most worthy of a visit are the cellars of Branceilles where visitors can sample the local Vin des Mille, a red wine that is rarely found outside the department. Whilst the department produces good examples of fine wine, Corrèze is most renowned for its liqueur distilleries, such as the Bellet distillery in Brive-la-Gaillarde where visitors can sample a range of plant-based liqueurs including the department's much-loved chestnut liqueur.
Corrèze is a largely rural department and, with its gentle hills, fertile green countryside and plateau region there are plenty of good walking opportunities throughout Corrèze and four hundred designated short walks that are detailed in the local tourist information offices.
There are four well-equipped golf courses in Corrèze situated in Aubazine, Brive-la-Gaillarde, Neuvic and Peyrelevade.
Whilst Corrèze is a relatively little-known department, it undoubtedly comes into its own where sports are concerned. The department has over forty man-made lakes which are well-suited to numerous water-sports including sailing, speed-boating, water-skiing and jet-skiing. It also has five rivers which are ideal for exploring the department by canoe or kayak. For land-based adventure, Corrèze has eight designated climbing sites, numerous horse-riding centres and marked mountain-biking trails most of which cater for people of all abilities.
Ease of Access
Corrèze is easily accessed by aeroplane or by land. Its nearest airports are Limoges and Rodez, both of which are served by regular flights from the main UK airports. The department is linked to the TGV train network and Brive is easily accessed by high-speed train from Paris.
Value for Money
Property in Corrèze is a little more expensive than in the rest of the Limousin region but because it is one of the more unknown parts of France it is still very good value for money.
With its range of natural and cultural attractions and delightful picturesque villages there is plenty to see and do across Corrèze and the department's unspoilt charm makes it one of the most attractive parts of inland France.