What and where is the Creuse?
Gueret Travel Blog› entry 1 of 4 › view all entries
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.
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.
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