Forgès is a small village in the Correze about 10 miles south of the "county town" of Tulle. The Correze, administratively part of the Limousin, is bordered by the departments of the Haute Vienne and Creuse, the Puy-de-Dome and Cantal and the Lot and Dordogne.
In some respects, the Correze reflects the wide diversity of our neighbours. To the south and west of the department, we have both limestone plateaux and fertile low lying alluvial valleys. On the plateaux, herds of goats and vines compete above limestone caves, used by earliest man in prehistorical times.
The Gouffre de Padirac and Rocamadour lie only some 40 miles to the south-west of us in the Lot. The Northeastern Correze is home to the great granite plateau of Millevaches and also the Monédières hills. The name Millevaches doesn't refer to cattle, but comes from a dialect word for "spring" and the name refers to the peat bogland which is found there. In fact the Plateau is one of the most important European wetland conservation areas. At around 2500 ft (750m) the region leads the traveller up towards the (extinct) volcanoes of the Auvergne, and are a riot of wild flowers in spring and early summer. Lovers of peace and quiet will appreciate that at 2 persons per square km, it has one of the lowest population densities in Europe.
Slightly to the south of Millevaches, some of France's greatest dams generate electricity for the region from the melt water of the Cantal captured in the Dordogne river, before it tumbles down to Argentat and calms down to become the artery of this whole area of France. One of these, the dam of Bort-les-Orgues, has created a great lake, and the spectacular Chateau de Val is in the middle of it. Nearby, the Orgues, strange hexagonal rocky outcroppings, are reminiscent of the Giant´s causeway and Fingals cave. The area, with the gorges of the Dordogne, make a very agreeable and easy day trip by car from here.
To the south-east, the roads lead through the area known as the Xaintrie, and this again can be considered as something of a preamble to Aurillac and the skiable terrain of the Plomb du Cantal. High (2000 feet or so) and granitic, the gray stone villages can appear a little daunting at first, but a little effort reveals a charming countryside and it is there, in the heart of the Xaintrie that we hide a real delight, the Tours de Merle.
This wide diversity of terrains - from limestone plateaux, via river alluvium to granite mountains, means that we have an enormously wide diversity of flora and fauna - not to mention the mushrooms for which the Correze is justly famed. The Souvigne is a trout stream - and the Dordogne itself is one of the best rivers for fishing both trout and grayling amongst others.
All in all, this is one of the few remaining unspoilt regions of western Europe. However, economic pressures are forcing change to farming methods, and it is by no means clear that the pleasant land that we know now will resist indefinitely. The great danger facing almost the whole of the Limousin is that of what the French call - somewhat barbarically "desertification" - the urban drift towards jobs, and away from the countryside. If we don´t have many small farmers left because small farms can´t compete in world markets, then we´ll have no-one to tend the land, which will revert to scrub and wilderness. The land simply isn't suitable to be adapted to the sort of large scale agribusiness that has so disfigured large tracts of Europe, so at least we´ll be spared that.