Around Saint Benoit


Around St Benoit

The surrounding countryside is lush and sparsely populated, and the roads are deserted. There are good walks from the village and half a dozen swimming lakes in the area. The closest lake is ten minutes’ drive away in Chaillac where pedalos can be hired. Sailing and water skiing are possible at two of the large lakes – Lac de Chambon and Lac St Pardoux. Canoes can be hired on the Creuse and horseriding arranged in the countryside around Chaillac.

Saint Benoit is a good base to explore historic or cultural sites: the frescoes of Saint Savin, Gregorian chanting at the abbey of Fontgombault and the house at Nohant where George Sand lived. Close to Limoges is the former settlement of Oradour sur Glane, the scene of a massacre by the Waffen SS in 1944, in which 642 men, women and children were killed.  The village has been left in its ruined state as a moving monument to the murdered villagers.

In the other direction, near Poitiers, is the science and technology theme park Futuroscope, which has shows and multimedia exhibits attracting over a million people a year. In March 2011 the Times dubbed it “the theme park for parents who don’t do theme parks.”

There are good restaurants in Argenton sur Creuse and La Luzeraize. Traditional gastronomy from the Berry (the ancient province covering this part of central France) includes goats cheese and Sancerre, while the Limousin region just to the south is famous for its beef and clafoutis.

And what about the sea? The Atlantic port of La Rochelle is a three hour drive and for early risers makes a great day’s excursion. Better still, stay overnight and take in the nautical ambiance of the bars and restaurants around the quay.