Jochen Jahnke at the German-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Surrounded by miles of pretty countryside, woodland and sparkling lakes, La Souterraine is a quaint Medieval Town just 38 km west Of Guéret, the capital of Creuse, and is the closest town to the Wyndham Halcyon Golf and Spa Retreat. Its rich history, being traced back to pre-roman times, is alluded to through its handsome ancient architecture and fascinating historic ruins.
When you arrive at the Chateau, our friendly concierge will be excited to advise you personally on all the best local spots to explore, but in the meantime, here are a few ideas for spending a day in the delightful little town of La Souterraine.
First, head along the charming high street and through the 13th Century Porte Saint-Jean and immerse yourself in this ancient square’s history. The Saint-Jean gate is one of the last-standing of 8 gates that would have guarded the city 700 years ago. We recommend heading into the Bar du Marche to get your bearings while enjoying a café au lait. You’ll take in the village’s hustle and bustle while preparing yourself for a delightful day of sightseeing. Oh! And the best part; if you ask politely, they’ll give you a key that will allow you to unlock the door and climb to the top of the ancient tower. From there, you’ll enjoy a great view of the town and surrounding countryside.
Next, take a short stroll to the Notre Dame Abbey, which dates back to the 11th century and is a stop for pilgrims on the trail of Santiago de Compostela. Classified as a historical monument, it has seen various alterations over the centuries and recently has undergone significant maintenance to preserve its 60-meter-high bell tower that at one time came close to collapsing. Thankfully, restored to its former glory, the Notre Dame church is open to visitors, while its underground crypt (open during the summer months) is another fascinating place to explore.
Then, meander through the winding village lanes and have a browse through the fashion and accessories in independent boutiques. Stop off at one of the boulangeries for something sweet and delicious or sample some home-grown produce from one of the farm shops selling everything from locally produced wines to infused honey. There are no big-name stores here, so the true charm of shopping in a small town like La Souterraine is knowing that you have the chance to buy local. You’ll find all of the everyday essentials as well unique French souvenirs to bring home.
On Thursday and Saturday mornings, you’ll find the bustling market where locals buy all their fresh fruit and veg, and on the last Sunday of each month, you’ll have fun rummaging through antique and vintage goods at the flea market.
Tour De Bridiers
Later, take a short ride or walk out of the town centre to the recently restored Tour de Bridiers. This imposing tower dating back to the 1200s has been fitted with a glass roof, allowing you to look through an open-air panorama across the area and landscaped gardens below. If you are lucky enough to be there during the 1st week of August, you’ll experience the Medieval Festival Fresco of Bridiers , where over 400 costumed actors will act out the thrilling history of the site. A stunning green theatre has been built especially for spectators to watch the show.
This summer, a few hundred meters away from the Bridiers Site, visitors are welcomed to a special exhibition of a recently discovered Roman-Gallo city; its excavation site revealing more secrets of its unique history every day.
Etang Du Cheix
Finally, from the Castle of Bridiers, follow the picturesque hiking path down to the Etang Du Cheix, a beautiful leisure lake with a sandy beach, children’s play park and picnic areas. Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten your picnic, head to L’Aquarelle Café/Bistro and enjoy something wholesome while you relax for the rest of the afternoon and watch the sun go down over the water before heading back home for the night.
Keep an eye on our blog for more things to do in La Souterraine and beyond as we continue to bring you ideas for great days out throughout central France.