So familiar, yet so foreign

Sadly, it was all over! The cycling tour that we had planned for months and anticipated with excitement and not a little apprehension! It was our first cyclo-tour and we had gone on fitness preparation rides, learnt to pack the bikes and all our gear into the tiniest bundles and practised our French until we could at least ask for a cup of coffee and a croissant!

And now it was over. We had ridden our bikes along the Loire Valley and across the French countryside for 4 weeks and it was time to return to Paris and the flight back home.

But France was not yet done with us! We arrived at Limoges station to get the train to Paris and found this absolutely incredible building. With plenty of time to spare while we waited for the train, we were able to explore and take photos to remember this remarkable place.

A very impressive building

A very impressive building (the ‘vase’ on the top of the clock tower dome is 5m (16ft) tall!). The main dome is supported by a metal frame and is covered in copper which weathers to the green colour.

Gare de Limoges-Bénédictins is the main railway station in Limoges and is where one catches the train to Paris (one way) or Montauban (the other!). The Bénédictins part of the name comes from the fact that it was associated with a monastery which ceased to exist at the time of the French Revolution.

Stained glass front entrance

Stained glass front entrance

The station is relatively new compared to many other buildings in France. Rail only reached Limoges in the 1850s and this beautiful big station was opened in July 1929 after taking 5 years to construct. (It replaced two smaller stations). Restoration work on the large building was apparently undertaken in 1975 and again in 1998 when a fire damaged the large dome.

The majestic central dome

The majestic central dome

The station is a bit unusual in that it has been built to straddle its 10 rail lines instead of having the lines built adjacent to the structure as is the case with most railway stations.

The transit area under the large dome

The transit area under the large dome

One of two statues flanking the front entrance

One of two statues flanking the front entrance

The building is not only beautiful, but it is obviously maintained with immense pride. It was immaculate, both inside and out – a credit to those who look after it and work there each day.

Even though we had been in France for over 4 weeks, and were now used to seeing everything written in French, it was something I still marvelled at! I had dreamed of going to France for so many decades and could not absorb the place, the culture or the language fast enough!

This is why my photos did not stop at the wonderful limestone building, but also had to include shots of something as trivial as the departure board!

Which train did you want?

Which train did you want?

Foreign? Stations the world over have trains which come and go (or have done some time in the past) – this they all have in common. But Gare de Limoges-Bénédictins is also special. The place is unmistakably French – and therefore delightfully foreign! It is also (according to some!) the most beautiful railway station in Europe!

Our loaded touring bikes look out of place in this beautiful old building

Our loaded touring bikes look out of place in this beautiful old building

This article was posted in response to the WordPress weekly photo challenge: Foreign

(Follow this link for details on the overall Tour of France which is on my cycling blogsite).

Credit: History and facts about this station were sourced from Wikipedia: Gare de Limoges-Bénédictins.

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About Madoqua

I have been to lots of places, seen lots of things and had some great experiences. This blog has writings about these adventures; a place to share the many photos I have collected and to describe the lovely things I have seen. In recent years, I have discovered the delights of biking and have cycled in lots of places. You can read about these adventures on my other blog "Cycling through the middle ages".
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8 Responses to So familiar, yet so foreign

  1. mudlips says:

    A 4-week bike tour sounds wonderful…and in France. I bet you’re pining to do it again. I know I would be.

    • Madoqua says:

      It was absolutely wonderful, and you are right, I can’t wait to go again! I still have lots of stories to write up from the last trip though, so plenty of memories to enjoy :-)
      The only thing I would change next time is to go when the weather is a bit warmer. We had some bitterly cold days on that tour!

  2. Beautiful architecture!

  3. scrapydo says:

    Incredible building. Thanks for sharing this station!:)

  4. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign | NMNPHX

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