La Courtine


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La Courtine isn’t just a military camp; this magnificent family hike will convince you.
A tour for the whole family! Although it will take a bit of courage to climb the first kilometre zigzagging through fir and deciduous forests. You will pass in front of the hundred-year-old beech tree that protects the Mariette cross and then begin the descent towards the village of St-Denis and its ancient church. A circuit of the Etang du Grattadour makes an extremely agreeable finish to this walk.

8 points of interest

  • History

    La Courtine

    La Courtine has seen its physiognomy changed with the establishment of a military training camp of the highest order: it is today ranked the 1st national camp for its capacity (4,000 men) and the 5th for its size. Even though military activity no longer generates as much life in the market town as it used to, in 2016, it was still hosting an average of 1,200 men per day.
    Another economic activity, the Alsapan factory, specialising in the manufacture of kit furniture, employs 150 people.

  • History

    The Museum of Remembrance

    At the foot of the steps, you will notice a DAF military truck, the symbol of the Dutch army. Between 1959 and 1964, the military camp was reserved six months a year for the training of Dutch troops who took advantage of the vast area for their manoeuvres. France’s withdrawal from NATO marked the end of this auspicious period for the region. A museum retraces this episode and presents the history of the camp. Run by a volunteer, it is open by appointment (M. Achard - +33 (0) 674 516749)
  • History

    The creation of the camp

    Agreed upon at the very beginning of the 20th century, the creation of a camp intended for the practical training of officers, non-commissioned officers and troops saw the Corrèze and Creuse regions compete for its establishment. In the end, the latter department was chosen, especially as this sparsely inhabited area had not been subject to many expropriations. Moreover, it met all the health and safety conditions necessary for the well-being of the men who would be staying there and provided a suitable ground for manoeuvres and firing training.
  • History

    La Croix de la Mariette

    As you go up to the exit of the wood, when you reach the level of a meadow, you will notice a magnificent beech tree. Don’t hesitate to go around it and see the Mariette Cross at its foot.
    Mariette Roudeix, from the village of Cro Charpeau, who was rich, very pious and widowed, had lost her son. So she had this stele built (being very Catholic) which moreover delimited her agricultural land. This cross is located near the old château of St Denis of which no trace remains.

  • History

    L’Arbre de l’Empie

    The Bardet tree was one of the four points that marked the territory of the Châtelain of La Courtine (château close to the church destroyed by order of Richelieu).
    The tree died and the owner of the land, Emile Combas, wanted to replace it but did not do so before his death.
    His son Christian, known as the Empie, made this wish come true with the mayor, a priest and the people around, over a simple meal. Later, this new tree was destroyed; the party was repeated for a few years but takes place.

  • Heritage site

    Church of Saint-Denis

    The parish of St-Denis was first dominant, then changed its status during the Revolution, becoming a village of La Courtine.
    Although the date of construction of the church is not known, it was closed in 1898 for security reasons. Nature took over the place and the building collapsed in 1941-1942.
    Since 2003, the Association of the Friends of St-Denis has been working to improve the site, making it possible to maintain the celebration of mass on the 1st Sunday of October in honour of the village saint.

  • River


     The Liege has its source at about 815 metres above sea level at the Massoubre pass and flows into the Diège. This 25 km long river offers magnificent fishing spots.
  • Pond

    L'étang du Grattadour

    The Plateau de Millevaches is known as France’s water tower because of the numerous rivers that have their sources there, but it also has a wealth of ponds and lakes. All artificial, they were created by humans, who most often dammed a stream at the end of a wetland. This is the case with the lake at Grattadour, which covers five hectares and offers relaxation, fishing and, formerly, swimming.


Departing from the camper van area. Go up towards the boulodrome, go through this it and go down the steps to find the D982.

  1. Take it on the right and then follow the first road on the left in the direction of Cros Charpeaud. Turn right after the railway lines.
  2. After the bridge over the Liege, take a trail on the right that climbs through the fir plantation. When you arrive at the hardwoods, this path is a little more marked and then becomes a track. Leave several paths on the right. After the several-hundred-year-old hardwood that protects the cross of the Mariette, continue to the road. Follow it to the right for 500 m.
  3. Fork right onto the track which descends through the undergrowth to the road.
  4. Follow it to the right. Pass the ruins of Saint-Denis, cross the Liege again and then the railway. Follow the RD 982 to the right. Entering La Courtine.
  5. At the former entrance to the military camp, turn left onto the D25 towards Beissat, then right onto the lane that leads towards the pond. Take the trail around the lake. Return to the starting point via Avenue Jules Tufféry.
  • Departure : Camper van area, La Courtine
  • Arrival : Camper van area, La Courtine
  • Towns crossed : La Courtine


Altimetric profile


Close to the military camp of La Courtine, shooting takes place regularly. Don’t worry; it only happens inside the military compound.
Topo fiche Illustrated map available at the start of the itinerary at the La Courtine camper van area.

Information desks

Place Voltaire, 19200 Ussel

05 19 60 00 30

Access and parking

La Courtine is on the RD 982, halfway between Felletin and Ussel.

Parking :

Camper van area, La Courtine

More information

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