Tranquille Vienne Gites

quick reference site in French & English:

Village Destroyed

This village was destroyed in 1944 and is now open for visitors.  Situated in Oradour sur Glane.  If you are into history, this is well worth a visit.

Twenty-five kilometres northwest of Limoges and a few kilometres north of the N141 road to Angoulême, the village of ORADOUR-SUR-GLANE stands just as the soldiers of the SS left it on June 10, 1944, after killing 642 of the inhabitants in reprisal for attacks by French maquisards. The village has been preserved both as a shrine and a chilling reminder of human brutality.

Before entering the village, the Centre de la Mémoire, immediately southeast of Oradour on the Limoges road (daily: Feb, March & Nov to mid-Dec 9am–5pm; April to mid-May & mid-Sept to Oct 9am–6pm; mid-May to mid-Sept 9am–7pm; entry to village free, exhibition €6), sets the historical context and attempts to answer some of the questions. From here an underground passage leads into the village itself, where a sign admonishes, Souviens-toi ("Remember"), and the main street leads past roofless houses gutted by fire. Telephone poles, iron bedsteads and gutters are fixed in tormented attitudes where the fire's heat left them; prewar cars rust in the garages; cooking pots hang over empty grates; last year's grapes hang wizened on a vine whose trellis has long rotted away.

To the north of the village a dolmen-like slab on a shallow plinth covers a crypt containing relics of the dead, and the awful list of names, while to the southeast, by the stream, stands the church where the women and children – five hundred of them – were burnt to death.

The modern village of Oradour has been constructed beside the old, with a 1950s concrete church that tries to be impressive but struggles with the task of commemorating what happened here.

There are buses from Limoges to Oradour, although it might be more convenient to take the train to St-Junien and then bus back to Oradour. The Relais de Comodoliac, 22 av Sadi-Carnot (tel, fax; €40–55), about 1km northwest of the train station, with a garden and a good restaurant (menus from €18), makes a decent place to stay in St-Junien. There's also a hostel, 13 rue de St-Amand (tel & fax, in an old abbey 500m further west along avenue Sadi-Carnot.