The Fortress de Rochechouart and the Musée Départemental d’Art Contemporain
Standing on a rocky promontory, the fortress of Rochechouart was built in the 13th and 15th centuries and reworked in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Renaissance interior courtyard has a gallery arcade with barley-sugar columns. Inside the castle, two rooms have 16th century frescoes, one featuring hunting scenes and the other, the Labours of Hercules. The castle also houses a museum of contemporary art. 20km further south, the ruins of the12th and 15th century castle of Lavauguyon can be seen on the right bank of the River Tardoire on the border of Maisonnais-sur-Tardoire and Salles-Lavauguyon, whose century church has 12th century frescoes which are a masterpiece of Romanesque art.
In summer, masonry and stone cutting discovery workshops take place on the site of the ruined castle.
Continuing further south, deep in the countryside, the Château de Brie is a listed, fully-furnished, fortified manor house. Built in 1484, in late flamboyant Gothic – early Renaissance style, its most remarkable feature is a Gothic-style staircase in Limousin granite in the square keep. The château has a surprising stucco-decorated salon dating from 1890.
It also houses the ‘Petit Monde des Automates’ in which 70 moving figures take visitors on a musical trip to the four corners of the globe.
Château de Chalus Chabrol
Château de Bonneval in the south of Haute-Vienne
Coussac-Bonneval right in the south of Haute Vienne on the border with Corrèze is dominated by its castle. The Château de Bonneval occupied an important strategic position. Rebuilt in the 14th century, then reworked in the 18th century, it is a square castle flanked by four huge round towers, surrounded with ditches. It has belonged to the Comtes and Marquis de Bonneval for over six hundred years. What to see : the eastern façade with its central square tower and double drawbridge, the interior courtyard with its Renaissance portico, the elegant western façade and terrace. The castle is richly furnished and has tapestries from Aubusson and Fontainebleau. Finally, stop off at Châlucet, a 12th century military fortress surrounded by vast wooded grounds. Walk around the ruins of upper Châlucet and admire its impressive facade and what remains of its former splendour, like staircases perched at the top of long vanished towers, archways of ancient doorways and passages. In lower Châlucet, climb to the top of the Tour Jeannette and enjoy the superb panorama of the Briance Valley. A lovely place for a walk, combining history and nature.
Other historic sites : Château de Nexon and its stud farm, birthplace of Anglo-Arab horses ; Château Chervix and its keep whose entrance is 6 metres above the ground ; Le Chalard whose ancient cemetery has some surprising graves. History is everywhere in the region, simple, ornate or in ruins and all worth a visit !
Discover Haute-Vienne with Gites de France Haute-Vienne : Monts de Blond and its mythical stones, Lac de Vassivière, Limoges porcelain and gastronomy, Mont Gargan, Lac de Saint Pardoux.