Bellac is known as a sous-prefecture, giving it the status of the 2nd most important town in the Haute Vienne region after the capital Limoges. It’s a typical French town (population just under 5,000) with good amenities for both visitors and its residents alike. In 2010 it was given the coveted Village Etape status – a sought-after accolade for tourism in the town. Maison Bellachonne is situated in the town centre (just opposite the Hotel de Ville pictured) and within a short stroll you can be enjoying a chilled drink at a pavement cafe, watching the locals play petanque in the park or sampling the fresh produce at the market.
The ancient medieval town of Bellac has a long illustrious past. The town’s main industry was its tanneries which supplied soft leather to the the French couture houses of Chanel and Dior. It’s also the birth town of the famous French writer & poet Jean Giradoux and you can visit the house where he was born to learn of the life and works of this famous Bellachon. There’s some stunning Romanesque architecture to be seen, most noticeably the beautiful Roman Gothic church of Notre Dame. And the Hotel de Ville (just opposite the Maison Bellachonne & pictured above left ) was originally built in the 17th century as a Chateau for the Barthon de Montbas family, where you can visit (free of charge) the various art or history exhibitions held in its ground floor wood-panelled hall.
The contemporary Théatre du Cloitre is situated in the Rue Lafayette – just next door to us! There’s an annual programme of events – dance/music/plays all year round as well as a full programme including free music in the theatre gardens, during the annual Bellac festival. In 2016 the Festival will celebrate its 63rd birthday with a special programme of events being held during the week of 3rd-10th July, 2016. Cinema Le Lux is just a 2-minute walk from the Maison B! There’s a fab mix of French and English films (vost) with the screening of some major films shown here in Bellac before they come out in the UK! We always have the current programme for both theatre and cinema available for all guests, so if you’re a culture buff, tell us at time of booking – and we will let you know what’s on!
Just a couple of minutes walk away from us in the Rue Thiers you can sample the delights of the local patisserie/boulangerie in their adjoining Salon de Thé, choose an authentic French cheese from Sophie’s newly-opened Fromagerie or browse the many magazines/books and beautiful stationery products in the Maison de la Presse.
The main shopping street, Rue de Coq is undergoing renovations and with the Summer & Christmas Vitrines en Fete initiative, there are many artisan and local producers selling their handmade produce – alongwith local shops selling gifts & household items. Typical opening hours are Tuesday-Saturday 10-12noon and 2.30-7pm.
Art Gallery, No. 15 Rue de Coq
Renowned English Artist Peter Jamieson has opened Bellac’s first ever Art Gallery, with an excellent display of original works on sale, opening hours are 3-7pm every Friday and 10-12 on Saturdays and by appointment: tel 05 55 60 16 63.
In addition to dinners served at La Maison B , we can recommend local restaurants for both lunch and dinner all within easy walking distance, notably La Creperie de Vincou in the Rue Thiers, serving an excellent selection of savoury & sweet crepes, as well as local Limousin beef & lamb. And L’Auberge Le Cheval Blanc with local produce included in their reasonably-priced Menu du Jour. There are also a number of snack/fast food restaurants in the town as well as restaurants within a 30-minute drive from rustic local fare to Michelin-star. We can also recommend the excellent Café/Bar Le Café Pont de la Pierre by the river with its new Gourmet Burger Menu – usually open every day throughout summer – but closed for the Winter Season.
Parks & Walks
There are many parks and jardins in and around Bellac where you can sit and relax. Or you can walk through the oldest part of the town past the 12thc Church of Notre Dame and take in the magnificent views over the valley & Viaduct, then further down to the Rives de Vincou where you can stroll by the river. There are also designated walks starting here suitable for all levels which will take you through the tranquil countryside surrounding the town; just ask us for a ‘Bellac Local Walks’ brochure.
Bellac has three markets each week, the biggest at the Champ de Foire (in front of tourist office) on Saturday morning from 7am- 12noon. You can choose from an array of locally-produced food and drinks – including carbonised goat’s cheese – it looks black, but tastes great and aids your digestion!, freshly-pressed blackberry & apple juice, nuts & dried fruit, and speciality Limousin lamb & beef are just a few of the stands available. On Thursday mornings (behind the Place de Palais) there’s a fresh fish market with seafood and fresh fish from the nearby Charente Mariitme region.
Also on (or around) 1st of each month there’s the big monthly Foire where you can source household linens, clothes and shoes, accessories and flowers/plants – depending on season, also held at the Champs de Foire. There’s also the van selling live chickens right outside our front door – so if you want to keep chickens and have your very own supply of freshly-laid eggs every day come along to the Place de la République on the 1st of the month!
During July & August there are also ‘Marchés des Producteurs’ held on Saturday evenings in the Parc Charles Sylvestre where you can sit at picnic benches and sample local food and wines with the locals, whilst enjoying some regional French music and entertainment. A great evening for all ages especially when the weather is warm!
There’s an outdoor swimming pool just 5 minutes walk from La Maison B. Open mid-June to end August, there are three pools – one for small children with water slides, another with a helter-skelter and the main pool with a permanent lane for keen swimmers. There’s evening Aqua Aerobics classes in the summer too. And with a small café serving cold drinks & snacks at lunchtime – it’s a fantastic place for Bellac residents and holidaymakers alike. You can buy a ‘carnet’ of tickets: 10 visits for 22e adult/10e for children!
The Bellac Tennis Club. situated next to the Pool, offers lessons throughout the year at 20e an hour or you can book a court for 1.5hrs for just 15e. And there’s regular weekend football and rugby matches at the Stade de Bellac – just 5 minutes walk away.
Golf – nearest Golf course is situated in the beautiful town of Mortemart – the only village in the Haute Vienne to be awarded the highly-coveted status of one of ‘Les plus beaux villages de France’ –and it’s just 10 minutes by car from Bellac. This is a 9-hole course with various options for professionals and private lessons available for beginners. Please contact us for more details as we can arrange tee times/lessons to suit before you arrive.