St-Etienne Cathedral and St Martial Bridge
The capital of porcelain and enamels industries, Limoges goes back to Gallo-Roman times as Augustoritum.
The porcelain industry started at the end of the 18th century when kaolin, the clay with which porcelain is made, was discovered in the surroundings in 1768.  Nowadays, more than 50% of all the porcelain made in France comes from Limoges.

Porcelain manufacturing is done in a total of 30 different operations .   First, the kaolin is reduced to a liquid and homogeneous paste called barbotine.  It is cast to a larger than the final shape, due to the shrinkage that happens during the preliminary firing at a temperature of  900 C      (1, 650 F).  The ware is then glazed, and submitted to a complete firing at 1, 400 C (2,550 F) in special kilns.  Hand-decorations are then applied, often in gold, but also in platinum, after which case a final firing at 800 C (1, 470 F) is done to fix the decoration.

The painter Auguste Renoir was a native son of Limoges.

Old-fashioned kiln

Early 20th Century Kiln

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Christine Guyonneau
This page last updated on January 2001