What and where is the Creuse?

Gueret Travel Blog

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Forest and lakes

If there is one département (comparable to a province in other countries) that can claim to be the heart of France, then it must be the Creuse. Geographically it is located in the very middle of the map. And in many other ways it is also the middle between the extremes.

Its summers are not as hot as the Provence or the southern inland areas, and not as cold as the “Nord” or Bretagne (Brittany). Its mountains are much lower than the Alps, Pyrenees or Massif Central, yet it is not as flat as (again) the Nord. Its cuisine may be not as refined as the Provence or Burgundy, but certainly better than (again!) the Nord, or the Low Countries. There is meat and fish, there is forest and agriculture, there is much history and just a little bit of modernity.

Creuse scenery

And there are cows, many happy cows from the Limousin region. The ones that keep smiling almost until their juicy steaks are served on your plate.

Historically the Creuse has been one of the poorer areas of France. Many people used to work the whole week in Paris, and commuted every couple of weeks for a few days at home. Many of the masons who built Paris in the 17th and 18th century were from the Creuse.

Also nowadays, the Creuse belongs to the lowest priced areas of France. That goes for the property prices, for the cost of daily life and as a result also for the average income. One of the main motorways, the A20 between Vierzon and Toulouse, has never been a tollway for the biggest part, mostly for this reason.

The Creuse is not flying high in the sense of economic growth or technical developments.

Happy cows
Life is relatively simple and the population is declining in many areas. Some railways are no longer used by trains, and have high grass growing between the rails and the crossbars. Some places, even close to the "capital" (the metropolis of Gueret, with as much as almost 14,000 souls), only see a bus a few times per day.

Some villages are seeing the young people move out. And this is not an area (yet) where the Brits, Germans and Dutch have moved in massively to buy cheap property, as was the case since many years in the Dordogne. It is still possible to buy a ruin of a farmhouse with lands and barns for a very attractive price and renovate it with the aid of local
contractors who will not rip you off.

It is probably one of the greenest areas in France, and has a potential for the more quiet style of (agro-)tourism, although that sector is hardly developed yet.

Some facts and numbers:

Area                            5,565 sq. kilometers

Population                    ca. 129,000 (Dec 31, 2007)

Density                        23 inhabitants per sq. kilometer

Capital                         Guéret (population 13,789 per Dec. 31, 2006)

Municipalities                260 ( !)

Climate                       moderate summers, moderate to cold winters

Altitude                       roughly between 150 and 700 meters above sea level

Distances (by car from Guéret)     

Paris apprx. 3 hours,

Bordeaux approx. 4 hours,

Lyon approx. 2.5 hour                           

Clermont-Ferrand approx. 1.5 hours

westwind57 says:
It is very calm and peaceful, yes. By car from Netherlands it is 8 to 9 hours drive, and from Paris maybe 3.5 hours drive. Other option is by train and then change to bus. It is calm, and nice for some time, but I think it is a bit too quiet to live there permanently :))
Posted on: Jun 26, 2012
Nayloo says:
Is that easy to go there ? That village looks so beautiful and calm! I'd love to visit them!
Posted on: Jun 26, 2012
Vanessa_Mun_Yee says:
great one! very informative!
Posted on: Feb 10, 2012
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Forest and lakes
Forest and lakes
Creuse scenery
Creuse scenery
Happy cows
Happy cows
photo by: westwind57