Sarlat's vieille ville is incredibly well-preserved and restored. We spent a two days here, exploring the narrow lanes, relaxing in the squares, and soaking up the charm and atmosphere, before deciding to move on to our next stop in Perigord. All the architectural detail that exists in the town ~ you need to keep your eyes moving constantly (up to rooves, ceilings, higher windows) to take it all in.
As well, sitting in Place de la Liberte with an espresso, then a glass of wine. . .then a second. . .and soaking up the sun and sweetness of the old town.
Cathedrale St. Sacerdos
This church was originally part of a 12th century Benedictine abbey, but was rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries. The interior is not really worth any time ~ nothing exceptional or striking ~ but be sure to check out the area to the back of the church.
Both the Laterne des Morts and the Jardin des Enfeux are located behind the cathedral. As well, the architecture of the rear of the church is frankly more interesting than the front.
Great Medieval Village and Market
"Blue Roads, Red Wine, and Quack Quack”"
Many people consider this untouched region of France to have the most picturesque villages and towns in all of France. We won’t disagree. We picked up a rental car at the Bordeaux airport and drove the 3 hours to a little village called Carlucet. Eric and Helen’s (Brits) country manor is set on rolling hills about 15 minutes from the largest town in the area Sarlat de la Caneda. Sarlat has a world famous Saturday Market Day, not to be missed.
Their place is a fully restored old stone manor with several buildings and a wonderful swimming pool. We arrived hungry and Eric directed us to walk up the hill to the “Black Duck”. Since this is Perigord, home of Fois Gras and everything else duck; the place serves 6 items, with 5 being some sort of duck. Black is because they serve black Guinness on tap. Thus we were introduced into the region where every menu is full of duck (canard): duck breast, duck confit, duck magret, duck pate, duck Fois Gras, duck neck sausage, pressed duck leg, duck gizzards, and walnuts. We actually found it exciting and ate some form of duck by choice several days in a row. The region is very proud of their heritage and local cultures. Someone told us that you can always tell the Brits and the Americans, they are ones with a backpack full of everything they own, carrying water bottles.
We spent a day at the Saturday Market in Sarlat and we had so much fun that we went back that evening for dinner and entertainment. The streets were full of street musicians and entertainers, the most street artists we have ever seen at one place. We were glad we stayed out in the country, since the busyness of the city was constant.
On Eric’s advice, we rented our canoes starting out in Vitrac, canoeing on the Dordogne River to La Roque Gageac, then to Beynac. Beynac is the village where the movie “Chocolate” was filmed. We stopped along the way and explored villages and rested. It took us over 3 ½ hours. Then we got a free shuttle bus ride back to the starting point. Along the way were the caves of prehistoric cliff dwellers, chateaus, and swimming in the shallow river.
Since most of the villages are only about 10-30 minutes apart, we spent our eight days there discovering several of the villages. We learned that if a town ends in “nac” or “ac” that means it is on water.