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.
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.
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 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 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!
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!
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.