Eymoutiers is a vibrant little town with the kind of coffee shop culture France is famous for
Limoges and the kind of coffee shop culture France is famous for.
Driving out of the town, and taking the D940 heading north, stone houses give way to lush green fields – a happy by-product of the wet winters and spring rain – and you will come to Lac de Vassivière. This popular lake, constructed after the Second World War and officially opened in 1950 has a dual purpose. The first, of course, to provide a beautiful place for locals and tourists to sit, walk or participate in watersports – from windsurfing to fishing – the second, as a producer of hydroelectricity, sufficient to support 40,000 people per year.
During the short summer season between June and August, the lake bustles with life; but off-season, with temperatures still often in the 20s or even 30s, villages such as Auphelle, at which a lakeside café offers regular boat tours of the lake, lie almost empty, offering a quiet paradise for locals and the few visitors that arrive in caravans for a quiet holiday or frequent local B&Bs.
Reiki master/teacher and musician, Ema Augustyniak, 39, moved to a small hamlet close to Auphelle in 2013, with husband Peter. Together the pair run singing classes and retreats, as well as performing as a duet at local venues. “It’s lovely to watch the lake change with the seasons,” she says. “No matter what time of year, it’s a beautiful, magical place.”
Just along from Auphelle, a little inlet plays host to a small boating club, where rowers, boat owners and sailing enthusiasts can moor their vessels. For those without their own boat, a regular ‘ bateau taxi’ runs during spring and summer from several different lakeside locations, taking visitors to different beaches and enclaves, or across to the Île de Vassivière with its 60-sculpture walk, botanical garden, ancient bread oven, château and small art gallery.
With its natural unspoilt landscapes, clean air, and fascinating towns and villages, Haute-Vienne offers a relaxed way of life that is certainly hard not to be won over by.