Sarlat, touristic heart of the Dordogne

If you have booked a holiday to the Dordogne – Lot region, then visiting Sarlat is a "must". Sarlat is seen as the pearl of the Perigord and that is not without reason.

History of Sarlat

Sarlat-la-Canéda, as the city is officially called, was created in the 9th century when a Benedictine monastery was built there. From the 13th century Sarlat gained its glory when it became an important trading city which lay on the route to Santiago de Compostela. After that, it led a dormant existence for centuries. There was no interest in modernizing or investing in this region. Thanks to this the Dordogne region remained in its authentic form. This is exactly what makes the region so attractive to tourists.

The old town of Sarlat

One of the most beautiful medieval towns in the Dordogne is Sarlat, a city with a lot of charm and grandeur. The restored city centre has over 250 Renaissance-style houses. Sarlat has  the most monuments per square meter in all of France. It is not for nothing that after Paris and Nice most films are shot here. The city centre is completely car-free, which contributes to the medieval atmosphere. You can walk through the narrow streets, will have to climb a flight of stairs occasionally and after every corner you’ll be greeted by a picturesque street. During the summer Sarlat is very busy. If you want to enjoy Sarlat quietly, it is best to go during the spring or autumn.

Place de la Liberté

The heart of Sarlat is the Place de la Liberté, a square with beautiful houses dating back to the 16th century. There are several restaurants, bistros and ice cream parlours with cosy terraces. Here you can enjoy a drink or French cuisine in a medieval style city. The shops and galleries sell artisanal products. On the edge of the square you’ll find the former church Église Sainte-Marie which has now been converted into a large market hall. Striking is the huge door which is open. With a glass elevator you can go up to the top where you are greeted with a beautiful view over Sarlat.

Place du Marché aux Oies

Place du Marché aux Oies is located on the other side of the market hall, a square with a famous statue of three bronze geese. The square used to be the home to the market for poultry. The square has beautiful houses with shops.

Manoir de Gisson

One of the most beautiful buildings in Sarlat, the Manoir de Gisson, was located on the Place du Marché aux Oies. These days it functions as a museum, but in the past, in the 13th century, a wealthy noble family lived there. The manoir consists of two houses connected to each other by a tower. The house is still almost entirely in its original state and is lovely to look around in. You will see the vaulted cellars and the rooms with the decoration from earlier times.

Laterne des Morts

The round tower behind the cathedral is known as the Lanterne des Morts. The story goes that this tower was built in memory of the death of St. Bernard. This St. Bernard was known to miraculously heal the sick.

Shopping in Sarlat

In addition to being a tourist attraction, Sarlat also functions as a shopping center for the entire region. All national supermarkets have an establishment here. But Sarlat also houses many cozy shops with local products, delicacies and antique shops. Lots of arts and crafts (artisanal) are sold on the streets.

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Cathédrale Saint-Sacerdos

The Cathédrale Saint-Sacerdos is located in the southern part of the old town. Seen as the church was built from the 14th to the 17th century, many different architectural styles are visible in the church. You’ll enter through the door in the bell tower which dates back to the 12th century. The paintings, sculptures and the overhanging organ in the church are from 1770.

Maison de la Boétie

Maison de la Boétie is named after the French philosopher and writer Étienne de la Boétie who was born there.  Boétie lived from 1530 to 1563. This beautiful house stands opposite the cathedral and is built in Italian Renaissance style with beautiful window styles and a tiled roof.

Festivals and markets

During July and August a theatre festival is held in Sarlat. Other festivals which vary from year to year are also held here. During the summer months it is very busy, especially on Saturdays when a market is held in the city. It's a lovely place to stock up on local produce, from truffles and dried sausages to porcini mushrooms and walnuts. Foie gras is also for sale. The stalls are colourful and there is a lively and cheerful atmosphere. The market in Sarlat is one of the most popular in the Dordogne region. The big crowds can be avoided by going out very early in the morning. The street next to the town hall offers access to an unadulterated farmers' market.


  • Truffles
  • Walnuts
  • Dried sausages
  • Porcini cep
  • Foie gras
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