Limoges is a city and the administrative capital of the central French region Limousin. It is also the préfecture of the Haute-Vienne departement. It's known for its medieval enamels on copper, porcelain (Limoges porcelain) and oak barrels (Limousin oak), which are used for the production of typical French Cognac. It's a fairly large city with about 150,000 inhabitants.
Limoges was founded in first century BC as a market town on the junction of two popular Roman trade routes. The city's golden age came with the Renaissance and the discovery of 'Kaolin' clay which is used to make porcelain. The porcelain industry transformed Limoges into a weathly town and led to the establishment of factories and 'Kaolin' mines. The 'World Fair' in Paris in 1855 showcased Limoges porcelain and it earned international recognition.
Limoges also serves as an excellant base for exploring the surrounding lakes, medieval towns, rivers and the national parks of Perigord Limousin and Millevaches en Limousin.
Limoges is located in central France and therefore temperatures are a little lower compared to the more southern areas in the country. Temperatures during summer from June to September usually are between 24 and 28 degrees Celcius during the day and around 15 degrees at night. From November to March, daytime temperatures are between 8 and 12 degrees while night in December and January are just above zero. Occasional frost and snow are possible during this time. Summer is the driest and sunniest time of year, but precipitation is fairly low throughout the year anyway.
Limoges - Bellegarde Airport (international code: LIG) is located just outside the city. It has flights to Lyon and Paris (both Orly as Charles de Gaulle) with Air France, Southampton and (seasonal) to Newcastle with Flybe, and to Bournemouth, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London-Luton, London-Stansted with Ryanair.
There is a bus service available from the airport to the city centre. The bus station is just behind the airport on the Avenue of Landouge. Bus number 16 normally goes to the city centre but keep in mind, there are no buses on Sundays.
Limoges has a beautiful railway station known as 'La gare des benedictins'. This architechtural masterpiece was constructed in early 20th century. SNCF has numerous trains to Paris, taking around 3 hours. Cahors is about 2 hours away.
Buses travel to regional towns including places like Oradour-sur-Glane, Solignac, Rochechouart, Tulle and St-Léonard de Noblat.
Eating out in Limoges is relatively inexpensive and local French cuisine dominated the menu of most of the restaurants. The old town offers a variety of dining options particularly on the Rue de la Boucherie.
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France is one of the best connected countries in the world, with data speed for upload/download ranked among the top 5 in the world. Most hotels and hostels would have in-house facilities to provide free internet access. Many major cities also have initiatives put in place to provide free wi-fi connection in public spaces. Alternatively there are internet cafés available in most cities/towns at a reasonable rate. Some private businesses, such as local cafés (or even the Starbuck's chain), may also provide wi-fi connectivity - keep an eye out for the signs by the shop windows/doors. Also look for the @ symbol prominently displayed, which indicates internet availability. However, with most homes now wired for the internet, cyber cafés are increasingly hard to find, especially outside the major cities.
See also: International Telephone Calls
To dial an international number from France, the IDD is 00, followed by the country code that you wish to dial, the area code and the phone number.
To call France from abroad, start with the international direct dialing (IDD) code from the country you're in, followed by French country code 33, the area code (drop the first zero in front of the area code), and the phone number. French telephone numbers are rarely given without the area code. The telephone number, including the area code, is made up of 10 digits. They are written in a set of 5 pairs of digits (i.e. 01 xx xx xx xx xx).
In France, the area code designations are: 01 - Paris Area ("Région Ile-de-France"), 02 - northwest, 03 - northeast, 04 - southeast, 05 - southwest, 06 - mobile phone providers. From 2010 onwards, 07 will also be assigned to mobile phone providers in order to cater for the surging demands for mobile phones.
Emergency numbers are 15 (medical aid), 17 (police station) and 18 (fire/rescue). You can also use the European emergency number 112 (perhaps a better choice if you don't speak French). These calls are free and accessible from virtually any phone, including locked cellphones.
France uses the GSM standard of cellular phones (900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands) used in most of the world outside of the U.S. There are several companies (Orange, SFR, Free, Bouygues Télécom and some others MVNOs like Virgin Mobile) offering wireless service. The country is almost totally covered but you may have difficulties using your mobile phone in rural or mountainous areas. If you stay for some time, it may be advisable to buy a pre-paid cell phone card that you can use in any phone that supports the GSM standard on the 900/1800 MHz bands. Then incoming calls and SMSes are free.
La Poste in France is also referred to as the PTT (short for postes, télégraphes et téléphones). The mailboxes are painted bright yellow and often there is a slot for local city mail and another slot for "outside mail". Normally there is a queue in the post office, but most of the post offices have the self service machine installed which is quite easy to operate. Nowadays many of the tabac and even some of the souvenir shops also sell postage stamps. Normally an overseas postcard costs almost as much as sending a letter. Mails sent in France also have a zip code. The first two numbers represent the administrative department (e.g. in Paris' case that would be 75).
Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 7:00pm Monday through Friday, and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Apart from the basic job of mailing letters, most of the post offices do some banking activities also and some even have photocopy machines and cyber cafes for internet access.
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