If you're a fan of food or of ancient architecture, then this is the region for you
East of the Auvergne is the least populous part of the French mainland: the Limousin. The hills are lower and more richly wooded, the roads even quieter. There are ancient halftimbered towns to explore, quiet castles and amazing food – the Périgord region is famous for its truffles…
We’ve based our routes here around the easily-reached village of St Étienne-de-Fursac, but if you wanted to range further south, we’d consider staying in Brantôme or Treignac. Hotel tip: Hotel Nougier
OFF THE BIKE
Oradour is a fascinating but somber memorial – a village wiped-out by the Waffen SS in 1944, preserved in a desolate condition. There’s a pleasant modern village next to it though, with good facilities when you need a pick-me-up after your visit.
Limoges was historically the centre of France’s fine china trade and, with plenty of souvenirs to fill your panniers, it offers several fascinating museums on the subject. Try Musee Adrien Dubouche or Les Four des Casseaux for two excellent examples.
The Périgord region of the Limousin is famous for its truffles, which you may find sold (to cook yourself or served-up in restaurants) in historic medieval towns like Brantôme and Perigueux – and the cathedral in Perigueux is also well worth a visit while you're at it.
Ancient Frenchmen developed graffiti in Lascaux, just south of Brive – a cave with more than 600 prehistoric paintings on the walls. Rival cavemen decorated nearby Les Combarelles, creating the first ancient grafitti battle.
No shortage of castles in this area, just because this isn’t the Loire. From older ones once owned by Richard the Lionheart to the stately Arnac-Pompadour, Rochebrune and Rochechouart examples (the latter home to a modern-art gallery), there are plenty of châteaux to see for fans of ancient architecture.
With the early start from an overnight ferry and the saving in distance, St Étienne-de-Fursac is a comfortable one-day ride from Caen or Le Havre. Crossing from Calais, we’d allow an extra day for a relaxed ride.
OUR MOTORCYCLE TOURING ROUTES
LIMOUSIN CASTLE TRAIL
Start/finish: St Étienne-de-Fursac. Distance: 210 miles. Riding time: 6 hours
From Richard the Lionheart’s castles to the majestic château at Arnac-Pompadour, it’s castle and cornering heaven.
Route map, Download the GPX
LIMOUSIN & PERIGORD
Start/finish: St Étienne-de-Fursac. Distance: 220 miles. Riding time: 6.5 hours
Beautifully relaxed, flowing riding to the historic town of Brantôme and back past the chateau at Rochechouart.
Route map, Download the GPX
Please note: This page contains the route files for The RiDE Guide To France which came free with RiDE magazine in July 2017. These website page are not regularly updated, so please check all critical information before you travel. All route files are in .gpx format. Garmin and BMW users can download the main file, which contains all the routes and our recommended hotels as separate waypoints. TomTom users can download the individual routes and use the Tyre software to convert them. For many routes we also have Google Map links. However, as Google Maps will not plot routes over seasonally closed high Alpine passes when they’re shut, these may not work for every route all year round.