Limòtges  (Occitan)
City Hall
City Hall
Coat of arms of Limoges
Location of Limoges
Limoges is located in France
Limoges is located in Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Coordinates: 45°50′07″N 1°15′45″E / 45.8353°N 1.2625°E / 45.8353; 1.2625Coordinates: 45°50′07″N 1°15′45″E / 45.8353°N 1.2625°E / 45.8353; 1.2625
CantonLimoges-1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9
IntercommunalityCU Limoges Métropole
 • Mayor (2020–2026) Emile-Roger Lombertie
77.45 km2 (29.90 sq mi)
 • Urban
270.9 km2 (104.6 sq mi)
 • Metro
3,407 km2 (1,315 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2019)[1]
 • Density1,700/km2 (4,400/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Urban density690/km2 (1,800/sq mi)
 • Metro
 • Metro density95/km2 (250/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
87085 /87000
Elevation209–431 m (686–1,414 ft)
(avg. 294 m or 965 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Limoges (/lɪˈmʒ/,[3][4] US also /lˈ-/,[3][5] French: [limɔʒ] (listen);[3] Occitan: Lemòtges, locally Limòtges [liˈmɔdzes]) is a city and commune, and the prefecture of the Haute-Vienne department in west-central France.[6] It was the administrative capital of the former Limousin region. Situated on the first western foothills of the Massif Central, Limoges is crossed by the river Vienne, of which it was originally the first ford crossing point.

The second most populated town in the New Aquitaine region after Bordeaux, a university town, an administrative centre and intermediate services with all the facilities of a regional metropolis, it has an urban area of 323,789 inhabitants in 2018.[2] The inhabitants of the city are called the Limougeauds.

Founded around 10 BC under the name of Augustoritum, it became an important Gallo-Roman city. During the Middle Ages Limoges became a large city, strongly marked by the cultural influence of the Abbey of Saint-Martial, where the Dukes of Aquitaine were invested and crowned. From the 12th century onwards, its enamels were exported throughout the Christian world. In 1765, during the industrial revolution, the discovery of a deposit of kaolin in the Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche region enabled the development of the Limoges porcelain industry. It is sometimes nicknamed "the red city" or "the Rome of socialism" because of its tradition of voting on the left and the workers' events it experienced from the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century.

Since the 1990s, the city has had a basketball club, Limoges CSP, which has won several French championships and the European championship in 1993. Because of its heritage policy, it has held the label "City of Art and History" since 2008. Economic activities include butchering, electrical equipment for the building industry, and luxury goods. It is home to porcelain houses and art workshops working with enamel or stained glass. This specialty led it to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2017 in the thematic category "Crafts and Popular Arts".


See also: Timeline of Limoges

Ancient and medieval history

Scarce remains of pre-urban settlements have been found in the area of Limoges. The capital of the Gaulish people of the Lemovices, who lived in the area, was probably either near Villejoubert, some kilometres south-east of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, or St Gence, just west of Limoges.

The city proper was founded as Augustoritum by the Romans, around 10 BC: "rito-" is Gaulish for "ford". The foundation was part of the reorganization of the province by the emperor Augustus, hence the new name. The Roman city included an amphitheatre measuring 136 x 115 metres, a theatre, a forum, baths and several sanctuaries. According to tradition, a temple consecrated to Venus, Diana, Minerva and Jupiter was located near the modern cathedral. The city was on the typical Roman square plan, with two main streets crossing in the centre. It had a Senate and a currency of its own, a sign of its importance in the imperial age. Later, like many towns and cities in Gaul, it was renamed after the tribe (here the Lemovices) whose chief town it was; "Lemovices" subsequently evolved into "Limoges", and "Lemovicinus" for the area around changed into "Limousin".[citation needed]

Limoges was evangelized by Saint Martial, who came to the city around 250 with two companions, Alpinianus and Austriclinienus. However, in the late 3rd century it was increasingly abandoned, due to unsafe conditions created by the invasions of various Germanic tribes. The population was concentrated instead in a more easily fortifiable site, the modern Puy Saint-Étienne, which is the centre of the modern Limoges. Starting from the construction of the Abbey of St. Martial (9th century), another settlement grew around the tomb of the saint, while a third area, next to the residence of the viscount (the future Castle of Saint Martial), seems to have been populated from the 10th century.[citation needed]

Starting from the 11th century, thanks to the presence of the Abbey of St. Martial and its large library, Limoges became a flourishing artistic centre. It was home to an important school of medieval music composition, which is usually called the St. Martial School; its most famous member was the 13th-century troubadour Bertran de Born.[citation needed]

Limoges enamel ciborium with champlevé enamel, and center rim in pseudo-Kufic  script, circa 1200.[7]
Limoges enamel ciborium with champlevé enamel, and center rim in pseudo-Kufic script, circa 1200.[7]

In the 13th century, at the peak of its splendour, central Limoges consisted of two fortified settlements.

In 1370, Limoges was occupied by Edward, the Black Prince, who massacred some 300 residents, "perhaps a sixth of the normal population", with another 60 members of the garrison of 140 dead as well.[8]

Modern history

Yale Mobile Hospital Unit No. 39 stationed at the Limoges factory, Christmas, 1917
Yale Mobile Hospital Unit No. 39 stationed at the Limoges factory, Christmas, 1917

The porcelain industry started to develop, favoured by the presence of kaolinite which was discovered near Limoges in 1768[9] (near St Yrieix, south-west of Limoges). Many of the inhabitants became employed in the new sector or in connected activities (including the lumbering of wood needed for firing the porcelain) in manufacture and exporting needed for European distribution of Limoges Boxes, dinnerware, and other porcelain wares. Because the Limousin region has had a long history of breeding (Baronet sheep and Limousine cows), the leather industry also settled in and around Limoges along the banks of the Vienne–the river providing the necessary water and power. Factories in Limoges and St Junien still produce luxury leather shoes, gloves, and bags.

The city and castle were united in 1792 to form the single city of Limoges. During the French Revolution several religious edifices, considered symbols of the Ancien Régime, were destroyed by the population: these included the Abbey of St. Martial itself.[citation needed]

In the 19th century Limoges saw strong construction activity, which included the destruction and rebuilding of much of the city centre. The unsafe conditions of the poorer population is highlighted by the outbreak of several riots, including that of July–November 1830 and April 1848. The first French confederation of workers, Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) (General Confederation of Labour), was created in Limoges in 1895.[citation needed]

In early 1905, strikes began in another local industry, shoe factories soon followed in the porcelain factories. Barricades were built, the army intervened. There would be two casualties: a horse and a young porcelain worker, Camille Vardelle.[citation needed]

During World War II, many Jews from Alsace were evacuated to and around Limoges.


Limoges experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) common to much of Western France. Most precipitation occurs between October and February. On 27 December 1999, winds reached 148 km/h. On average, the city undergoes 41 days of frost and seven days of snow each winter. In June, July and August, precipitation tends to come only from violent thunderstorms coming from the Bay of Biscay.

Climate data for Limoges (LIG), elevation: 402 m (1,319 ft), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1973–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 17.2
Average high °C (°F) 6.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.2
Average low °C (°F) 1.5
Record low °C (°F) −19.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 91.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 13.5 11.0 11.3 12.4 12.6 9.4 8.5 8.5 9.6 12.1 13.2 12.8 134.9
Average snowy days 4.6 3.8 2.7 2.0 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.7 3.0 18.1
Average relative humidity (%) 85 80 76 71 75 73 71 72 75 80 82 84 77
Mean monthly sunshine hours 86.0 104.0 156.8 167.7 204.9 227.4 238.2 231.0 191.5 133.3 81.4 77.6 1,899.8
Source 1: Meteo France[10][11]
Source 2: (relative humidity 1961–1990)[12]


In 2018, the population of the commune proper was 131,479, and of the Limoges functional urban area 323,789.[2] Inhabitants of Limoges are called limougeauds in French.[13] The population data in the table and graph below refer to the commune of Limoges proper, in its geography at the given years. The commune of Limoges absorbed the former commune of Beaune-les-Mines in 1962.[14]

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1793 20,864—    
1800 20,255−0.42%
1806 21,757+1.20%
1821 24,992+0.93%
1831 27,070+0.80%
1836 29,706+1.88%
1841 29,870+0.11%
1846 38,119+5.00%
1851 41,630+1.78%
1856 46,564+2.27%
1861 51,053+1.86%
1866 53,022+0.76%
1872 55,134+0.65%
1876 59,011+1.71%
1881 63,765+1.56%
1886 68,477+1.44%
1891 72,697+1.20%
1896 77,703+1.34%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1901 84,121+1.60%
1906 88,597+1.04%
1911 92,181+0.80%
1921 90,187−0.22%
1926 98,209+1.72%
1931 92,577−1.17%
1936 95,217+0.56%
1946 107,857+1.25%
1954 105,990−0.22%
1962 118,576+1.41%
1968 132,935+1.92%
1975 143,725+1.12%
1982 140,400−0.33%
1990 133,464−0.63%
1999 133,968+0.04%
2007 138,882+0.45%
2012 136,221−0.39%
2017 132,175−0.60%
Source: EHESS[14] and INSEE (1968-2017)[15]

Main sights

St Etienne Cathedral, Limoges
St Etienne Cathedral, Limoges
Saint Martial Bridge
Saint Martial Bridge
Gare des Bénédictins
Gare des Bénédictins

Art and literature

The murder of Thomas Becket, Limoges enamel, 12th century, Louvre Museum
The murder of Thomas Becket, Limoges enamel, 12th century, Louvre Museum

"Le marché de Limoges" (Limoges market) is the name of a section of Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky.

In 1768,[9] kaolin, a rock rich in fine, white clay which is used for making porcelain, was discovered at Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche, 30 km south of Limoges. Under the impetus of the progressive economist Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune, who had been appointed intendant of this impoverished and isolated region, a new ceramics industry was developed, and Limoges porcelain became famous during the 19th century. However, Limoges porcelain is a generic term for porcelain produced in Limoges rather than at a specific factory (there are still several porcelain factories in and around Limoges). More than 50% of all porcelain made in France comes from Limoges[9]

Limoges is mentioned in T.S. Eliot's poem Gerontion (London 1919), lines 23 to 25:

"... Mr. Silvero/ With caressing hands, at Limoges/ Who walked all night in the next room."

Eliot's compatriot and mentor Ezra Pound visited Limoges in 1912 when researching the landscape and the work of the 12th-century troubadours. As he states in his essay Troubadours: Theirs Sorts and Conditions: "... a man may walk the hill roads and river roads from Limoges and Charente to Dordogne and Narbonne and learn a little, or more than a little, of what the country meant to the wandering singers ..."

There is also a reference to Limoges in Jean-Paul Sartre's novel Nausea, near the middle of the book in the Shrove Tuesday section, when the magistrate says: "I had a similar case at the beginning of my career. It was in 1902. I was deputy magistrate at Limoges ..."

Another reference comes from the British television series The Darling Buds of May[19]


Limoges hosts the national ceramics school École d'ingénieurs ENSIL-ENSCI, created in 1893,[20] and also the University of Limoges.


The city is one of France's basketball capitals. The Palais des Sports de Beaublanc, has been host for international basketball events such as the EuroBasket 1983 and serves as home court for the professional team CSP Limoges (Cercle St Pierre). Since 1983, the club has been French champion 11 times (1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 2000, 2014, 2015) and 5 European titles (1982, 1983, 2000 (Korac Cup), 1988 (FIBA Saporta Cup), 1993 (Euroleague)). It was the first French club team to become European champion in a collective sport.[21][22] The team currently plays in Pro A, the French first basketball professional league.

Limoges Hand 87 is a French handball team based in Limoges, France, which is currently playing in the Division 2 of Ligue Nationale de Handball.

Limoges FC is the major city football team, currently playing in Championnat National 3 (Group A). Their home games are played at Stade St. Lazare. Limoges played in Division 1 from 1958 to 1961.

USA Limoges is an amateur rugby union club, based in Limoges. Currently competing in Fédérale 1, the top level of the French amateur rugby pyramid and one level below the professional leagues.


The main railway station of Limoges is the Limoges-Bénédictins station. It offers direct connections with Paris, and Toulouse, and several regional destinations. Limoges was the last major urban centre of Metropolitan France to be connected to the national motorway system; since the early 1990s, the motorway A20 connects Limoges with Châteauroux, Vierzon, Orléans and Paris to the north, and Brive-la-Gaillarde, Cahors, Montauban and Toulouse to the south. The nearest airport is Limoges – Bellegarde Airport.

Urban transport in Limoges and its metropolitan area is operated by Société de transports en commun de Limoges Métropole (STCL). The Limoges urban bus network includes the Limoges trolleybus system, one of only four such systems currently operating in France.

Notable people

Twin towns - sister cities

Fountain and Carousel at Place de la République
Fountain and Carousel at Place de la République

Limoges is twinned with:[23]

See also


  1. ^ "Populations légales 2019". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 29 December 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Comparateur de territoire: Aire d'attraction des villes 2020 de Limoges (041), Commune de Limoges (87085), INSEE
  3. ^ a b c "Limoges". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  4. ^ "Limoges". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Limoges". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  6. ^ INSEE commune file
  7. ^ "Louvre museum notice". Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  8. ^ Sumption, Jonathan. 2009. The Hundred Years War III: Divided Houses. 82–83
  9. ^ a b c "Limoges". Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  10. ^ "Climatological Information for Limoges, France". Meteo France. 6 August 2019.
  11. ^ "LIMOGES–BELLEGARDE (87)" (PDF). Fiche Climatologique: Statistiques 1981–2010 et records (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  12. ^ "Normes et records 1961–1990: Limoges-Bellegarde (87) – altitude 402m" (in French). Infoclimat. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  13. ^ Haute-Vienne,
  14. ^ a b Des villages de Cassini aux communes d'aujourd'hui: Commune data sheet Limoges, EHESS. (in French)
  15. ^ Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
  16. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Martial". 1 October 1910. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  17. ^ "Découvrez le musée des Beaux-Arts de Limoges - Musée des Beaux-Arts de Limoges".
  18. ^ Université de Limoges website Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine (in English)
  19. ^ The Darling Buds of May, season two, episode one, Oh! To Be in England: Part 1, written by H. E. Bates and Richard Harris (television writer), directed by David Giles (director) (1926–2010). Produced by Richard Bates, et al., for Yorkshire Television, and to be shown on the ITV network on Sunday the 26th of January, 1992.
  20. ^ L'ecole Nationale Supérieure De Céramique Industrielle à Limoges
  21. ^ "F4 History: 1993, A surprise from France".
  22. ^ "Une liste de 200 personnalités "à abattre" a été découverte lors de perquisitions chez des". 26 September 1992.
  23. ^ "Les villes jumelles : une autre façon d'aborder les relations internationales". (in French). Limoges. Retrieved 14 November 2019.