Where did the town of Bellac get its name? The official tourism website posits several possibilities, but we find ourselves favouring the idea that it’s simply an amalgamation of ‘Belle’ and ‘lac’… in short, ‘beautiful lake’. Even if that doesn’t entirely make sense (the only body of water here is the Vincou river). Still, you get the gist.
Bellac is however, beautiful. It’s surrounded by fields and woodlands, and its riverbanks are ideal for picnicking or a spot of fishing. An arched stone bridge – without a doubt the areas most photographed feature – offers a picturesque path into the town’s heart, which is awash with 15th and 17th- century properties From a distance, one can observe this staggered jumble of pastel shutters and rooftops, crowned by the tower of the Église Notre-Dame. For such a small place, Bellac has a long and fascinating history. In the Middle Ages, it thrived as a leather tanning hub – an industry still alive and kicking in nearby Saint-Junien, luxury leather-glove capital. In 1882, novelist and playwright Jean Giraudoux was born here; his childhood home is now open to the public as a museum filled with nostalgic paraphernalia. The market scene is strong in present-day Bellac, with three taking place every week! Not to be missed, the largest is held at the Champ de Foire on Saturday mornings, showcasing a breadth of tasty Limousin specialities.
If this sounds like your idea of heaven, consider bringing your house hunting search to the area. Houses in the town centre range between a modest €55,000 and €75,000 for two bedrooms and four bedrooms, respectively. Just a short five-minutes jaunt from the centre, a renovated three-bedroom stone house with a pool and large garden can go for just over €100,000. A maison de maître, meanwhile, can be brought for €344,000 with nine bedrooms, out buildings and a guest house for renovation, to give you some idea of what to expect. As for gîtes and B&B businesses, you’re looking in the region of €600,000 or more, and €900,000 for a château currently operating as a boutique hotel.
As a village étape – that is, a small town or village with fewer than 5,000 residents and all the essential shops and businesses – life here is self-sufficient. Although, if you did want to venture out, Saint-Junien is just half and hour’s drive away and well worth a look.
With thanks to our partner agencies in Bellac.
If you would like some assistance discovering these or other areas of France and find out more about what the property market has to offer, then please don’t hesitate to give us a call at +44 (0) 1225 463752 or email us at [email protected].
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