Visiting the Creuse for the first time - suggestions on places to check out?

We are planning a trip to the Creuse next weekend to take a few days off from our renovation work (nearly finished!!). We don't plan to stay in the Charente and will be putting our property here up for sale in spring 2016. The Creuse is one of the Departments we wish to check out after to talking to several expats who have recommended it.

I don't think we will be able to check out all of the Creuse during one weekend so we are planning to check out the southern part, including Bourganeuf, Aubusson and Lake Vassiviere. If there are any people on the forum who live in the southern part of the Creuse (or know it), then maybe you can recommend places to check out?

Regards Paul and Jackie

I lived in Australia and love the sense of distance i'm not even sure I missed humans :)
Then in India it felt like a sardine and same-wise in Thailand.

Distance gives me more sense of freedom to breathe Nature in deeply ! I should consider visiting la Creuze.

We drove past the house this summer and I note that they even have the same post-code as us.

I have to say that I would think very carefully about any kind of hostelry in the area. There are quite a few "hut" style places, particularly around Vassiviere. However I've noticed that even in the summer a lot seem to be vacant. Outside of the peak season I really think that you'd struggle to get punters in through the all. The whole area really goes quite dead outside of peak season and the French are certainly more into their camper-vans than jurts....

I have thought about renting our house out as a holiday let but dismissed it because of poor return vs hassle factor.......

I'm not saying it is completely impossible - but I wouldn't take out a mortgage in the hope of the business succeeding !

Thanks for the link to the Grand Designs House!

We love that route between the two places, and find Gueret to be one of the friendliest places we've ever visited, pretty, too, and also Aubusson, although we've learned to go there in tourist season!

Hi Paul, it’s in Vidillat so mid way between Gueret and Aubusson off the main road…there are some lovely houses up here, many originally built for people from Paris that then used the houses either in the summer or in the winter for shoots! We have traced a lot of the history of ours during the war, before and after…it’s fascinating!

You have misunderstood my comment about the Lake. The OP is looking for a very quiet rural area, the area around the Lake is not typical of the rest of the Departement. I have said it is pretty and that I like it, I just don’t think it’s what is being looked for, that’s all! Its presence will be a big plus factor for any Yurt or BandB business.
Talking of those,

Hi Dawn. We saw a repeat of the Grand Designs episode with the renovation of the big house in the Creuse. Whereabouts is that in the Creuse. Lots of helpful and positive information in your replies. Thank you. Have been looking at maps of the Creuse and can't wait to visit!! Looks very hilly in the south especially! We are at 100 metres altitude here in the Charente, but it is pretty flat overall.

Bastille day on the lake!

I find this thread both interesting and entertaining! To state that Vassiviere is a fake tourist hub is a hoot…we have a boat at the ski club and spent July 14th on it…tranquil and beautiful are two words that come to mind! At the end of the day auphelle is only busy for a limited period in the summer which is lovely, there are plenty of things on there and the island, I really can’t see what more anyone would want from the place. Internet access…we are in a small hamlet of four houses and have super fast access. We are a mile from the grand design house that has had a great b&b occupancy so I guess it’s down to what’s on offer regarding that. My husband now commutes to the uk and most weeks it takes 1 hr 15 to the airport, sometimes I think we forget how long we have sat in traffic in the uk in the past! If we drive back it’s 5 hours to Caen but yes longer to Calais etc although we now use Zeebrugge as our preferred port ( less traffic sitting in the uk going north!) a place is what you make it I guess but there are many many things that we will miss when we leave here. I drove to the west coast this year through cognac etc where we had first looked to to move to and as nice as it is there I’m so so glad we moved up the mountains! You can come and do our garden any day!!

Very informative reply. Thanks Richard! Interested in your comments about work. We are not of retirement age and would be running a business. We have read that the Creuse is a centre for green tourism, which is what we are into. Part of our plan is to have several yurts on our land for hire during the holiday months. Interesting what you say about B&B as we have found many in looking for accommodation for our visit. We would intend to do some B&B. Both of us would also plan to do some garden/house maintenance work (mainly for expats). I ran my own garden landscaping/maintenance business back in the UK. We are not looking to earn a lot and we are very adaptable.

I think you have confirmed my point. The majority of the department is really wild and remote, the lake is not, especially ‘in season’. I personally love the area for a day out but I just don’t believe that it will suit Paul’s brief. I know his present location and he thinks that that is too busy and densely populated whereas many people would see it as rural bliss. It’s all a matter of levels of remoteness!

I suppose the only caveat would have to be this: don't expect to get any kind of job in the Creuse except as a (relatively) manual variety and then serving the Brit population.... The low population density = no easy jobs. Qualify as an electrician or a plumber and you'll tap into the local brit-network quite easily and fill your diary at 250 euros per day, 150 for manual work. However there really are no opportunities in the region for fledgling dream businesses. Most expats would struggle to get work in a supermarket. If you are even thinking of running a B & B or Hotel, forget it....

If you have the capital to live independently it could be great. There is an old-boy who was born in our house (the old-boy is now 70) who brings his grandchildren to the forest once a year to show them how he grew up and he walks away from the forest with bounty: bags full of cepes. There are chestnuts and blackberries a-plenty. There is also internet access ! However, "the good life" is in truth an arduous one - which is why the inhabitants of the Creuse flee as young men and women in their droves... But if that is what you are looking for then it is there to be had....just make sure you buy a diesel car to keep the travel costs down - they mount up getting about in such a wilderness !

False & Tourism Centred ?!?!

What total tosh ! I posted my pictures from Lac Vas this summer in an earlier post. Indeed during the summer it opens its doors to tourism, but the rest of the year it is abandoned. The Creuse needs to use its tourist potential to survive. That it 'comes to life' during the summer is a great thing. 99% of the lake is completely unspoiled by any kind of civilization. Yes, during the summer, it opens up several beaches and is (as my photos show) a great place for a traditional summer holiday. If you have kids or grandchildren it is fantastic. Even then it takes an hour to drive around the lake and 90% is non-touristy.

The "tourism" around the lake is in reality why most of us like France: it isn't packed and retains an innocent charm - pack a picnic and go to the lake-beach on a hot summers day. Go to the L'escale (earlier post) and enjoy a hearty but unpretentious meal for 20 euros + 5 for the wine. Do sandcastles with the kids, then birdwatching on the way home. If this isn't the French Idyll you sought out then (aside from expensive spots) I don't know what is....

The Creuse is home to 1000 lakes (the plateau de millevaches properly translates not to the plateau of 1000 cows but to 1000 lake / pastures). Dotted everywhere around that region are lakes devoted to fishing, nature, dog walking or even naturalism (of the naked human variety)....

Since I have young children I welcome the 'touristification' of Lac Vas during the summer: it means that we have 5 beaches within easy reach all well serviced and lifeguarded.

As for the region generally, I bought my house for 45, 000 Euros - with 4 bedrooms and an acre. It might be worth 80, 000 or 100, 000 now it has been renovated a bit - but generally house prices are pretty static. The key is always location, location, location. As with anywhere it is a case of finding a spot away from main roads yet reasonably close to amenities. When I leave the front door of our holiday home I have a choice - left or right ! Either way will lead me to a wilderness of wild boar, deer and circling birds of prey. You cannot sleep at night for the sound of owls. The whole region is a fantastic natural wilderness, very similar in my view to the Brecon Beacons but (erm) flatter and hotter in the summer.

So far as transport is concerned, it is quite correct to say that the further you go from the A20 the harder it is to reach. We drive Calais --> Creuse in about 7 hours on a good run. If you delve further away from the A20 then with a bit of traffic that turns to 10 hours, which is a bit of a pain. However if you are planning on living there and this isn't a major issue then it is great..... Both Flybe and Ryanair serve Limoges Airport which is so small you can arrive 30 mins before last check-in and you'll still get on board (although 45 mins is safer !). We keep an old banger at Limoges airport and it costs 600 Euros a year for an annual parking pass - meaning we can jet in and out with ease... I fly out at 7am from Stansted and I'm in our house in the Limousin, having done the week's shop, by midday....

At the end of the day, each of us is seeking a different balance between work-wilderness-city-countryside-house price. I stumbled into the Creuse much by accident, but every time I pass the sign that says "Departement de La Creuse" I pump the air with a certain proprietorial glee.....

Enjoy it. Explore it. You won't regret it !


Hi John. Well we are only going to check it out and the rest of the southern part of the Creuse!! If it is touristy and false as you say, then yes it would probably not appeal to us that much. However we know nothing about the Creuse apart from internet/book research, part of the reason I came on here for advice.

I will be interested to hear how you get on with the Lac de Vassiviere, it is attractive in the way that drowned highlands tend to be but it is, in my opinion, a very false, tourism centered place, worlds away from the peace and quiet and natural landscape that you appear to be looking for.

Sounds right up our street. We are very much back to nature people and not into materialism!! We are pretty poor too so we should fit right in!!

Hello Mark. We would love to take you up on your offer of a cuppa! It would be great to hear about the Creuse directly from somebody who lives there.

Thank you to everyone for all your replies! Very helpful. We will definitely check out Lake Vassiviere and also Aubusson. We also want to check out the uplands. Having lived in mountainous areas of the UK we have realised we miss hills and mountains and where we are in the Charente is mainly flat and arable. Looking forward to checking out the Creuse, but have put back our visit for another week!!

Hi Kwashie. I am intrigued by your reply? Why should we be wary of the Creuse? We are looking for somewhere that is very sparsely populated. To be honest it feels like the Charente is overun with Brits!! We want to be off the beaten track and far away from roads like the A20!! We have both lived in remote places in the UK (Cairngorms; Mid Wales; North Wales) and love being surrounded by wild landscapes. The Charente is not what we expected and much busier than either of us thought. Charente has a population density of 58 people per km2 whereas Creuse has a density of only 22 people per km2. That's nearly a two thirds less people! Sounds good to us!!