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Regions of France - Limousin

Located in the central area of France, on a series of rolling plateaus in the northwestern part of the Massif Central, Limousin is the second least populated French region beaten only by Corsica. In fact, even the city of Marseille has more people than the whole region of Limousin.

As you might have guessed, Limousin is mainly a rural region. Famed for some of the best beef farming in the world, herds of the distinctive chestnut red Limousin cattle are a common sight in the region.

As well as cattle, the region is also a major timber producing area. Its French Oak orchards are so prized for its distinct characters and flavors in wine fermentation that vintner, Rémy Martin has had exclusive rights to the wood grown here for over 100 years.

Limogues, the capital and the largest city of the region, was once an industrial power-base, world-renowned for its porcelain and is still a leader and innovator in electric equipment factories which originally used porcelain as an insulator. However, very few large factories are still operating.

Until the 1970s, Occitan was the maternal language of rural areas, and even today there remain several different Occitan dialects in use in the Limousin region.

For such a sparsely populated area, Limousin has played host to some famous French names. The well known Impressionist painter Pierre-August Renoir was born in Limoges and two French presidents, Jacques Chirac and François Hollande both lived in the region.

Onto food .. and one of the specialities of the Limousin is pâté aux pommes de terre and clafoutis is a local dessert.

Being at the foot of the Massif Central, winters in Limousin are often long and cold, especially in the higher areas, and snow is not at all uncommon.

In times gone by, shepherds working in Limousin needed protection from these cool damp winters and traditionally wore a cloak with a large hood. And it's from this unlikely beginning that the word "Limousine" was born.

The first automobile limousine, built in 1902, was designed so the driver sat outside under a covered compartment. The word limousine was used as this covered compartment looked like the raised hood of the cloak worn by the shepherds from Limousin. Another theory on the derivation of the word is that the chauffeur wore a Limousin-style cloak in the open driver's compartment, for protection from the weather. Either way, those shepherds just trying to keep warm would be surprised to know they inspired the name of luxury cars around the world.