Listed as One of the Most Beautiful Villages in France: Collonges la Rouge

Collonges-la-Rouge is a commune in the Corrèze department in the Limousin region of France. The American artist Bernard Brussel-Smith spent many summers in the town; inspired by its architecture, he created numerous wood engravings of local buildings, cemeteries and people.


The monks of Charroux Abbey founded a priory in the 8th century which attracted a population of peasants, craftsmen and tradesmen who lived and prospered around its fortified walls. The welcoming of pilgrims for Compostelle through Rocamadour was a lasting source of profit. In 1308, the viscount of Turenne granted the village a right to high, medium and low jurisdiction, permitting it to govern the birth of lineages of prosecutors, lawyers and notaries. The enclosure soon became too small to contain the entire population, and faubourgs were created. Following the French wars of religion, the reconstruction of the nobility’s fortune coincided with the viscounty’s rise in power.

After selling the viscounty in 1738, and after the French Revolution which caused the destruction of the priory buildings, the village regained a short-lasting prosperity at the beginning of the 19th century. Later on, its population slowly decreased and the village was transformed into a stone quarry.

In the beginning of the 20th century, some villagers created the association Les Amis de Collonges (The Friends of Collonges) and eventually obtained the classification of the entire village as a historical monument in 1942.


Collonges-la-Rouge is entirely built with red sandstone. Its existence is proven since the 8th century thanks to the donation of the count of Limoges of the parish to the monastery of Charroux.

The village is a member of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (The Most Beautiful Villages of France) association, and is actually where this association was created. Its one of the most visited sites in the Limousin.

Civil architecture

The marketplaces date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, and the covered passage is listed as a historical monument.


  • Maison de la Sirène, possesses a vaulted porch and dates back to the 16th century. It belonged to Henry de Jouvenel, one of famous french writer Colette’s husbands. It is listed as a historical monument. A 3 franc postage stamp representing the Maison de la Sirène was issued on July 3, 1982
  • A priory, built in the 16th century, has been a historical monument since July 4, 1951 for its facade with balcony and its roof
  • the ancient sisters’ house, built in the 16th century, has been a historical monument since July 4, 1951. Rue de la Barrière (Barrière Street)
  • 16th-century Bonyt house is a historical monument for its facade, roof and spiral staircase;
  • Boutang du Peyrat house, with parts from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, is a historical monument. The protected elements are a window with preservedLouis XIII woodwork, a 17th-century entrance door, a wooden chimney, its facade and roof
  • 16th-century Julliot house is a historical monument for its facade, roof and entrance stairs
  • Dey house is a historical monument
  • A 16th- and 18th-century house on the Place de la Halle is a historical monument for its facade, loggia, and roof
  • Poignet house has a 17th-century window listed as a historical monument.
  • Salvant et Vallat house is also a historical monument.

Official buildings[edit]

  • The ancient court of the Châtellerie (16th century) has been a historical monument since December 13, 1978
  • The ancient town hall (with parts from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries) has its facade, roof, and stone chimney listed as national monuments since January 4, 1951

Castles, hotels and noble houses

  • Manoir de Vassinhac (14th and 16th centuries), with elements of fortifications, is a historical monument
  • Château or hôtel du Friac or de Beaurival (hôtel de Beaurival), 15th century, is a historical monument since December 17, 1926
  • Château de Benge, with parts from the 16th and 18th centuries, was listed as a historical monument by the orders of September 23, 1953 and March 18, 1954
  • Castel Maussac, 15th and 16th centuries, has been a historical monument since December 17, 1926
  • Château du Breuil
  • Château du Martret, with parts from the 16th and 19th centuries, is a historical monument
  • Manoir de Beauvirie, 16th century, is a historical monument
  • Château de Beauregard, 15th century, has been a historical monument since December 17, 1926

Military architecture

The fortified wall dates back to the 14th century. The doors of the ancient priory and of the church are both listed as historical monuments.

Religious art

The Saint-Pierre church, dating from the 11th, 12th and 15th centuries, with its romance curved steeple (one of the oldest of the Limousin region), was fortified during the 16th-century French wars of religion. Its remarkable gates are decorated with a 12th-century tympanum carved in white stone (contrasting with the red stone of the rest of the village), representing the ascension of Christ dominating his mother and the 11apostles. It was hidden during the wars of religion and only replaced in 1923.

The main altar, painted in blue and gold, is composed of a 19th-century altar, a partly 17th-century tier, an 18th-century tabernacle, and an altarpiece reconstructed in the 19th century with elements two centuries older. It was listed as a national treasure and restored in 1984-1985.

The altar (wooden and painted in gold) of the southern chapel represents the Passion and dates back to the end of the 17th century. It is also listed as a historical monument.

The wooden fence of the chapel, with a central turnstile, dating back around the turn of the 18th century, is decorated with coquilles, volutes and sculpted acanthus leaves. It is listed.

The 16th-century wooden statue of Christ, was discovered in 1971. It is a historical monument, with two other statues of the Virgin Mary, from the 17th or 18th centuries.

A wooden Christ on the cross dates back to the 17th century, and is listed.

The whole church has been a historical monument since April 4, 1905.