The Creuse (department number 23) is located in the region of Limousin and has an estimated population of 124,500 (approximate in 1999). Situated south east of the centre of France, it is named after the river Creuse.
The capital of the Creuse department is the city of Guéret and other towns of interest are Aubusson and La Souterraine.
Agriculture is everywhere and the area has a laid back feel to it with many farms still following a traditional way of life using pitchforks and rakes rather than tractors and combine harvesters!
Why you should visit Creuse for your next holiday in France
The summers are warm, although not as hot as in the more southern areas of France and the winters are relatively cold with a good rainfall due to its elevation. The area is sparsely populated with mainly forests dominating the landscape and lovely valleys. The air is clear and although popular for holiday homes, there are not many houses visible across the landscape.
Outdoor activities are plentiful in Creuse with all forms of fishing available in abundance along the river and in numerous lakes. Walking and cycling tracks are everywhere and horse riding is a relaxing pastime.
The area has pretty villages, stunning scenery and interesting architecture. With a landscape covered in heather, the late summer/autumn is a wonderful sight. The plateau Millevaches is covered in springs and is a walkers or cyclists paradise.
What to see in Creuse
Guéret is the capital of the department with around just 15,000 inhabitants and is built on the site of an old monastery. It is a water sport lovers paradise with the river Creuse and Lac du Courtille close by. Although most water sports are available in numerous locations, the area meets the needs of all outdoor lovers. The countryside is gentle and rolling with churches and castles.
The Musée de la Sénatorerie boasts an impressive collection of Art Deco but also has other wonderful exhibits from different eras - it is like opening Pandora's box.
There are music festivals during the summer and in July and August a series of concerts are performed in local churches. In October and November there is a gathering of the best young piano talent.
La Souterraine is also a small town located between green hills and the river Creuse close by. The town is steeped in history and the area is of archaeological interest and its name, La Souterraine (underground), refers to the town's 13th century crypt. Being close to water the town also offers water sports and other outdoor activities.
Aubusson stands on the river Creuse and owes its existence to the waters of the river. Steeped in history the town has many architectural interests with many turrets reminding us of times gone by. Since the 15th century Aubusson has been known for its tapestries and fine carpets and the waters here have been the essence of the industry, essential for making the coloured dyes used in the manufacture of rugs, carpets and tapestries woven here. Every year, generally in the summer, there are exhibitions of ancient and modern tapestries.
Evaux les Bains
Evaux les Bains is a spa town with a reputation for curing illnesses. The hot water springs of Evaux les Bains are naturally between 40 and 60 degrees and are more than 350 million years old. The baths are amongst the most modern in France and are ideal for the treatment of a number of ailments including rheumatism.
There is also a former gold mine at Châtelet where you can still pan the river for the precious metal of gold.
Another town specialising in carpets and probably now best known for supplying the carpets for the foyer of the Empire State Building and also the luxury liner 'Normandie' is Bourganeuf.
How to get to Creuse
The nearest airports are Limoges and Clermont Ferrand.
By car and ferry to Calais, Dunkirk or Dieppe.
There are TGV connections to the area but a car is recommended.