So, Limousin is no more. We went to bed last night as part of this old région, one of 22 in metropolitan France with another 5 overseas, and woke up in Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes. What a mouthful! There are now only 13 régions in metropolitan France since, amongst other mergers, Alsace and Champagne have been lumped in with Ardennes-Lorraine, the Auvergne has joined forces with Rhône-Alpes, and Bourgogne and Franche-Comté are now united. There’s a map of the new régions here:
So will the famous Limousin chicken now become the Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes chicken?
Limousin was one of the historical provinces of France and it absorbed most of another historical one, Marche, to form what until yesterday was modern Limousin, consisting of the départements of Creuse (ours), Haute-Vienne and Corrèze. The provinces were dissolved on 4 March 1790 during the French Revolution. This was because of the haphazard systems of taxes, feudal traditions and courts that had evolved independently in the various provinces. The aim of the Revolution was to remove the influence of French nobility, which was strong in the provinces, and replace it with a centralised administration. The rise of the dreaded fonctionnaire had begun!
On 31 December 2015 Limousin had a population of slightly under 750,000 and included the French département with the oldest average age, namely Creuse. Now we’re part of a région with 5,808,895 inhabitants! Covering 84,086 square km, it’s the biggest of the new régions too. What’s more we will lead the way in France in terms of revenue generated by agriculture, since the absorbed regions were largely rural and, of course, Bordeaux has its famous vineyards. We’re also first when it comes to tourism now, since we cover everything from a World Heritage site in Bordeaux, to ski resorts, to sandy beaches. There are some more facts and figures here: And we have a rather eye-catching new flag.
I think I prefer this jolly lion to Limousin’s old flag, which appears to have rows of dancing witches on it!
It’s interesting that our new super-région is very similar to medieval Aquitaine, and consists largely of the former Duchy belonging to Eleanor of Aquitaine, a huge book about whom I’m labouring through at the moment. Alison Weir’s book is very detailed and has obviously been painstakingly researched, but it’s rather hard going. It’s not helping that noble families limited themselves to a handful of names, so there are numerous Henrys, Geoffreys, Matildas, Eleanors, Richards, Williams and many a Louis and it’s tricky keeping track. However, it’s very eye-opening to discover what life was like in the twelfth century. And you have to admit that Eleanor was a tough cookie, managing, as she did, to run a huge chunk of the country as well as disappear off on the odd crusade as well as have ten children.
How being in the new A-L-P-C will affect us remains to be seen. Will it mean another layer of bureaucracy to pull the existing ones together? Will it mean fewer, more efficient fonctionnaires? (I even managed to keep a straight face when I wrote that.) Will our previous relatively poor département see an injection of wealth for services and infrastructure? Better road surfaces and a couple more buses perhaps? I dare say that as 2016 unrolls we’ll start to get an idea. However, I imagine it will take a generation or so before residents stop thinking in terms of the old Limousin. I’m not going to forget it.
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