Sarlat-la-Canéda, Dordogne, France
Sarlat is probably the Dordogne’s best known town. It is a delightful medieval town which developed around the Benedictine Abbey and the impressive cathedral. The Jewel of the region know as Périgord Noir, Sarlat attracts a multitude of visitors each year.
The History Of Sarlat
Sarlat is a Medieval Town which grew around the Benedictine Abbey which was initially founded in the 9th Century. Through Medieval times Sarlat became an extremely important market town and many of the impressive buildings and houses we see now were constructed by wealthy merchants during this period.
Following the French Revolution Sarlat, like the rest of France, took on a more secular feel and lost its Bishop. The town, although remaining an important market town locally, never gained national notoriety due to the distance from major trading routes. This is what undoubtedly means the many impressive buildings remained un-touched and manage to maintain their original beauty.
Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful old French town, jam-packed with nonsensical planning, maze-like streets and amazingly pretty old stone buildings. This is Sarlat.
The old town of Sarlat is a tourist’s dream, largely bereft of cars and a splendid hotch potch of cobbled streets and old stone houses. You will find yourself stumbling upon such delights as the last remaining ramparts, the Cathedral and the Jardin des Enfeus.
No day trip is complete without a lazy coffee in the mid-morning sunshine or lunch on the terrace of one of the town’s stylish cafés or restaurants.
Food In Sarlat – Le Gastronomie
The town of Sarlat, like many in SW France, is particularly renowned for truffles (les truffes) and foie-gras. Should you happen to visit in January then be sure to look out for the Fête de la Truffe, and February is when you may be lucky enough to stumble upon the Fest’Oie which celebrates the goose.
Sarlat Markets – Les Marchés
Sarlat grew as a commercial focal point, and so markets have played an important part in the town’s development since medieval times. This tradition continues today with a vibrancy rarely replicated. There is a blend of markets on most days in the town.
Saturday is the traditional Market Day, with a large market in the town centre all day long and a food market in place at the Place de la Liberté from early morning until lunchtime. Wednesday morning also sees a smaller food market welcomed to the Place de la Liberté.
Sarlat’s indoor market is housed in the former church of Sainte Marie and is open every day throughout the year (except Thursdays in the winter months). Generally open (and thriving) in the mornings, you can also shop throughout the day on Fridays in the summer season.
At specific times of year you will also find seasonal markets such as the truffle and foie-gras markets in winter or the organic food market in the summer.
As with all of the information, the local tourist office is very helpful.
The Village Of Rocamadour
Rocamadour, one of France’s most visited villages, clings to the cliff of the Alzou canyon. Famed for its stunning location and historic monuments the village is set within a gorge high above a tributary of the Dordogne River.
This stunning village is just one of many wonderful places to visit in the Dordogne.
Pilgrimages To Rocamadour
Rocamadour is classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and forms part of the Chemin St Jaques or Santiago De Compostella.
As with many pilgrim sites, the origins of the miracles and legends are somewhat blurred. One thing we do know, however, is that following war and the French Revolution the village became practically deserted. Rocamadour became revived in the mid nineteenth century and thrives on a staple diet of year-round tourism nowadays.
Rocamadour is home to its own cheese. A goat’s cheese which is generally eaten young, one particularly delicious way to enjoy is warm on fresh bread or toast with a fresh green salad to accompany!
Aged Rocamadour cheeses, which become harder and more intense, are perfect with a local red wine.