Quick guide to... Tulle

France - - Travel News - For more in­for­ma­tion, visit tulle-en-cor­reze.com

There is much more to the cap­i­tal of the Cor­rèze dé­parte­ment than the fab­ric it shares its name with. Known as the ‘town on the seven hills’, Tulle is nes­tled in a nar­row valley at the con­flu­ence of the Cor­rèze and Solana rivers and can be ex­plored via a net­work of steep stair­ways. The ori­gin of its name is dis­puted but most his­to­ri­ans think it comes from the Ro­man god­dess of guardian­ship, Tutela. A tem­ple was cre­ated in her hon­our to pro­tect trav­ellers cross­ing a treach­er­ous ford on the road be­tween Brit­tany and the Mediter­ranean. This ru­ral town has long been a hub of in­dus­try. Home to the na­tional firearms fac­tory since the 16th cen­tury, it is now also known for au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing and met­al­work in gen­eral. Tulle has a sur­pris­ing pres­i­den­tial past: it has been the po­lit­i­cal base of both Jac­ques Chirac and François Hol­lande, with the lat­ter be­ing the town’s mayor from 2001 to 2008.

What can I see and do? The stun­ning Ro­mano-Gothic cathe­dral has the high­est bell tower in Li­mousin, tow­er­ing over the town at 75 me­tres. The cathe­dral is also noted for its pipe organ and strik­ing mod­ern stained glass win­dow, de­signed by Jean-Jac­ques Grüber in 1979. Head next door to the former Bene­dic­tine Saint Martin Monastery, home to the Musée de Cloître where you will find ev­ery­thing from the gothic clois­ters that give the mu­seum its name, to me­dieval art­works and, of course, the town’s fa­mous lace. If you want to see the in­tri­cate needle­work in ac­tion, visit the Ate­lier du Poinct de Tulle, which aims to pre­serve this tra­di­tional art form. Tulle is also renowned for its ac­cor­dions and plays host ev­ery Septem­ber to the Nuits de Nacre, France’s largest mu­si­cal and cul­tural cel­e­bra­tion of the unique in­stru­ment. You can also tour the Mai­son Maugein, a lo­cal ac­cor­dion maker. A favourite stroll for Tullistes is at Gimel-les-Cas­cades, sit­u­ated around 10 kilo­me­tres to the north of the town. The three water­falls – the big­gest of which plunges an in­cred­i­ble 60 me­tres – are linked by a trail which takes around an hour to walk. Feel­ing home­sick? Look out for the tele­phone box by the river – a pa­tri­otic gift from Tulle’s twin town, Bury, Greater Manch­ester.

Where are the best places to eat? Lo­cal spe­cial­i­ties in­clude the far­cidure, a potato dish sup­pos­edly favoured by Hol­lande him­self, and the bré­jaude, a lard-based soup. The place to try them is Chez Gus et Olga (tel: (Fr) 5 55 20 81 62) which serves tra­di­tional re­gional cui­sine near the Musée des Armes. If you want to fol­low in the Pres­i­dents’ foot­steps, the din­ing lo­cale of choice for both Hol­lande and Chirac is the Tav­erne du Som­me­lier (tel: (Fr) 5 55 20 26 73), a mod­estly-priced bistro next to the the­atre. It is per­haps a favourite with the politi­cians thanks to its ex­ten­sive wine menu boast­ing more than 300 to choose from. If you’ve got room for a crêpe for dessert, Crêperie le Bilig (tel: (Fr) 5 55 20 97 97) boasts a large range of sweet (and savoury) Bre­ton-style pan­cakes.

Where should I stay? Just 1.5km from Tulle rail­way sta­tion, the 50-room In­ter-ho­tel Tulle Cen­tre (dou­bles from €87, ho­tel-tulle.com) is ideally sit­u­ated in the town cen­tre, en­joy­ing views over the Old Town and the scenic Cor­rèze docks.

Get me there!

Di­rect flights from Lon­don to Li­mo­ges (50km away), with Ryanair, Flybe or Bri­tish Air­ways take around 1hr 35min.

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