Ey­moutiers is a vi­brant lit­tle town with the kind of cof­fee shop cul­ture France is fa­mous for

Living France - - Destination -

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.

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