Sarlat, or Sarlat La Canéda as its officially known, is a beautiful medieval style city located in Perigord Noir, south west France. The town developed around a Benedictine Abbey and evolved over the centuries into the bustling market town it is today. It is steeped in history and this is evident in its buildings. The oldest part of the town was restored in the sixties after receiving financial aid and is now a tourist hot spot famous for its love of all things duck and goose. Market days are Saturday and Wednesday, I visited the town on Monday and whilst it was still busy, full of people and life, it wasn’t crazy busy. I have heard that market days are super super busy.
My first impression of Sarlat was that it was like many of the French towns in the Dordogne region, the buildings were honey coloured with shutters on the windows and green trees were dotted around the pavement. Sam and I followed the rest of our family, who were leading the way and it felt like all of a sudden we turned a corner and were transported to a completely different place. The old town is full of windy streets, windows adorned with boxes of colourful flowers, the buildings were Disney-esque with turrets and wooden beams.
The two photos above are from the outskirts of the town, the streets are wide with cars parked alongside. Only a few more steps from here and I was met with the view in the photo on the left. This is the older part of the town and has this medieval vibe with a hint of French renaissance about it. Every single building was different and the whole place kinda looked like it had just been added to and added to over the centuries using whatever the latest building technique was at the time. This made for some very interesting features wherever you looked.
I remember looking up and just seeing a bronze statue sat on top of the wall, round another corner and down a few steps, there was some kind of old Christian relic with a statue of virgin Mary and a pool of water. I’ve looked online to find out more about this but so far haven’t found any information. I wonder if its part of the original abbey that Sarlat was built around. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any decent photos of it but you can see Sam and I investigating it and making a wish in my vlog.
Everywhere I looked there were cafes, people, shops selling foie gras and truffles. It really was a feast for the eyes. It was noisy with a constant stream of people talking but not in a overly loud way, it was just a city full of people and life.
Sarlat’s love of all things duck and goose is evident in Place du Marché aux Trois Oies where you will find a bronzey coloured statue of three inquisitive looking geese. My littlest nephew Austin, was immediately sitting on the back of one of them, befriending a little French boy playing nearby. I love that about kids, how they are just so open and not afraid of making friends. It was certainly cute to watch!
The pretty building in the two photos above with white shutters on the windows is the Manoir De Gisson. The building is made up of two parts joined by the hexagonal turret. I didn’t get a chance to see the inside but I hear the furniture dates from the middle ages right up to the 17th century and the basement is full of curiosities brought back from adventures. Rumour has it, there are shrunken heads, a unicorn horn and even a jackalope located in the vaulted basement.
Just around the corner from the three geese and Manoir de Gisson is a beautiful central square lined with cafes and even more windy streets. The Lewis family clan is bottom left – Tom, Katie and Lucia with Dan a little ahead of them with Austin sat on his shoulders.
We carried on walking away from the town square, turned another corner which led down a street with more shops selling foie gras, chocolates and other touristy bits and was met with the view of this amazing Cathedral, which you can see in the picture on the right.
Sam and I couldn’t resist an explore of inside it. We ventured in and I was amazed by how large it was on the inside. Sam and I have a little ritual that we always do when we enter religious places like Churches and Cathedrals, we always light a candle for our loved ones who are no longer with us. Its just a little way of paying respect to family members who have passed away and acknowledging that we still love them, miss them and think of them often. Neither Sam or I are particularly religious, but its just something both of us like to do.
After all this walking around we started to feel a little hungry. It was just after lunch time so the restaurants weren’t crazy busy but they were still pretty lively. I didn’t get any sense of there being a ‘lunch’ or ‘dinner’ time in France, it was kind of just whenever you felt you needed nourishment. I also had no idea what time shops opened and closed and we often found in the smaller villages that shops would be shut after lunch.We found a lovely little cafe with outdoor seating near the town square. The menu was varied with everything from burgers and chips to steak sandwiches and salads. I chose a niçoise salad as I was suddenly craving the saltiness of anchovies and olives. It was delicious and exactly what I needed. After lunch I had two scoops of ice cream which was a nice hit of cool sweetness on a hot afternoon.
When we’d finished eating we couldn’t remember how to ask for the bill in French. I checked out google translate (which is wrong btw) and the waiter laughed at us when we showed him! It was really funny but at least now we know how to ask for it properly. Its “L’addision s’il vous plait” if you wanted to know 😉
Lucia and Babs
Tom and Sam.
Sam and I grabbing a quick photo together. 🙂
After lunch we had a little wander around a few more streets. Lucia wanted to buy a magnet so we stopped off at a touristy shop so she could pick one up. Sam really wanted a hat so we stopped by another shop for him to get one of those. We also brought some lovely red wine from one of the local wine shops to take back to the villa with us.
Sarlat is a really lovely place to visit if you are ever in this region of France. I absolutely recommend it, if not just for the gastronomic delights available, the history of the town is evident wherever you look. I didn’t get to explore all of Sarlat but I imagine there are many more medieval features and things like that lurking around the windy streets.