An extraordinary site
Rochechouart is situated in the middle of an extraordinary and almost unique site in Europe.
200 million years ago one of the biggest meteorite ever to fall on Earth, hit the ground within 5 kilometres of Rochechouart, and 2 kilometres from Babaudus. its weight was estimated at 6 billion
tons and its diameter at 1.5 kilometers. It landed at a speed of 20 km per second and created a huge burst of energy equivalent to 14 million Hiroshima bombs. This formed a crater of about 20 kilometres wide and the heat melted the surrounding rocks for a distance of about 40 km.
This resulted in a unique blend of rock, impossible to find elsewhere: the impactites. More information can be found here: French Wikipédia
In Rochechouart there is a museum dedicated to the astrobleme: www.espacemeteorite.com
Legends and Battles
The earliest mention of Rochechouart was in the year 965. The nearby village of Chassenon (Cassinomagus) has its origins in the Roman period and was on the Agrippian Way.
Local legend has it that, before their defeat at the battle of Poitiers in 732, the Moors of North Africa were camped at Babaudus and that this unusual name is in fact a translation into Occitan of the Arabic for "The city gates" ; some people even say that traces of their place of burial were visible at the edge of the village. Unfortunately there is no evidence to support this thesis.
Rochechouart was one of the many castles and country estates reclaimed by Richard the Lion heart when regaining his Kingdom of Aquitaine after returning from the Crusades, and is a short drive from Chalus, where he was mortally wounded. See more on the road to Richard here: http://www.routerichardcoeurdelion.com
Nowadays the city is a subprefecture, with a town hall and a post office. You can visit the Church which has a twisted spire, and the departmental Museum of Contemporary Art in the Castle.
The commune of Rochechouart maintains a number of attractions for locals and tourists, and the city is well served by several businesses.
The hamlet of Videix with a beach at the lake is located 10 minutes by car. In the summer season you can swim and rent pedalos, canoes and surfboards. There is an equestrian center in Pressignac 10 minutes from Babaudus.
At Saint-Junien (20 minute drive), there is a cinema; and indoor and outdoor swimming pool and a golf course. St Junien was an area favoured by the famous painter Corot and a river walk tourist site is dedicated to him. There are still several porcelain and leather work craft businesses between Rochechouart and Limoges, some with shops and tours.
The martyrs' village of Oradour-sur-Glane is only 40 minutes' drive away in the direction of Limoges. This was the scene of a massacre by an SS detachment in June 1944, just four days after D-Day, when the entire population of the village was killed. The site has been preserved as a memorial, with a recently-built exhibition and study centre on the them of genocide alongside.