Sarlat, Capital of the Périgord Noir in the Dordogne region
Sarlat has some of the finest medieval buildings in Europe, as you’ll find out for yourself when you wander through its winding narrow streets and vaulted passageways. Stop to admire the lovely cathedral of Saint-Sacerdos and the pinnacles and mullioned windows of the Bishop’s Palace. Everywhere you go you’ll see any number of elegant buildings bearing witness to the importance and wealth of Sarlat in the 15th and 16th centuries. Every nook and cranny has a surprise waiting for you – west of the town centre, in the rue Jean Jacques Rousseau is the Chapelle des Pénitents with its baroque doorway, the imposing outline of the Abbaye Sainte-Claire, a former convent, and, a short distance away, the courtyard of the 16th century Hôtel de Cerval.
Guided tours of Sarlat
From Rue de la République, cross through the old town of Sarlat with its maze of narrow streets. Your guide will point out the many architectural gems of the town as the tour progresses: the splendid Gothic cathedral of Saint-Sacerdos, the attractive Place de Payrou, the Hôtel de la Boétie and the Lanterne des Morts (the lantern of the dead). Guided tours led by professionals in period dress will whisk you off to medieval times and take you on a journey back in time from the present-day to the 13th century. A local maiden (La Belle Sarladaise) will recount the key events of centuries past which have made Sarlat the incredible place that it is today.
The Sarlat market (Wednesdays and Saturdays)
On Saturday mornings, which is when the biggest market takes place, Sarlat is a bustling, noisy hive of activity. Wander from stall to stall and meet local farmers and growers offering their wares for sale – walnut oil, foie gras, dried sausage with mushrooms, fillet of duck breast, liqueurs, cabécous goats’ cheese and chestnut spread. In short, it’s a treat for the senses! On Saturdays in the summertime it’s not unusual to see crowds of tourists sitting at café terraces in the streets adjoining the marketplace, chatting as they sip their Bergerac wine and munch summer truffle toasts – it’s a way to see Sarlat in a different light, namely, through the prism of the finest culinary traditions and local produce that the Périgord region can offer.