LA CREUSE, department 23 in the Limousin region, France
CREUSE (23): 260 Communes, 27 Cantons Capital: Guéret
La Creuse is situated to the south of Le Berry (Cher and Indre departments) and to the west of the Allier. No sooner than you enter La Creuse from the north, you'll see a dramatic change in the landscape - the Creuse is on the north-western border of the Massif Central and the land in the southeast rises to more than 3000 ft. On a whole, the Creuse is a hilly department with rocky outcrops and river gorges, with woodlands and lakes.
This department has attracted hundreds of artists over the years and in particular the area around Crozant, on the north-western border of the department. Crozant became famed for its "école de Crozant", a generic term, but generally believed to be "lead" by the artist Armand Guillaumin (1841-1927) who was friends with the likes of Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro and Vincent Van Gogh. In 1889 Monet painted what some consider to be the first of his "series" paintings here in the valley at the confluence of La Creuse and La Petite Creuse rivers. If you visit today, you will find signs showing some of the places where he painted, although the trees have altered the views considerably.
The population of La Creuse peaked in the 1850s and then declined slowly until the First World War at which time the population fell more rapidly. However it is in the last 40 years that the department has seen it's greatest decline in inhabitants. This department is now the lowest population in mainland France, but beacuse of this and combined with the beautiful scenery in every direction, La Creuse attracts many tourists in the warmer months. It is also a popular choice of department for second homes for city dwellers, especially Parisians.
The main towns and villages of La Creuse are Guéret (which is the Préfecture) with a population of about 14k. The next largest town is Aubusson with a poulation of aron 4k, and is famous throughout the world for its tapestries. Other towns include Evaux-Les-Bains, La Souterraine, Dun Le Palestel, Croq, Bonnat, Boussac, Bourganeuf.