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Pubdate 2022-06-02 in tourism
Périgord noir
Eglise Sainte-Marie


The small village of Sarlat-la-Canéda is just short of nine thousand inhabitants but is considered one of Europe's foremost cultural heritage cities and annually overlooks a massive influx of tourists. The main reason is the fantastic medieval town center from the 13th to the 16th century that has been carefully preserved and restored over the years; many of the buildings here are considered to be of great historical interest and in 1964 as many as 65 buildings and monuments were listed and classified. An extensive conservation program ensures that the centuries-old buildings are regularly inspected and renovated with traditional materials and methods, and the Malraux Law prohibits the modernization of the city center.
Sarlat-la-Canéda is the capital of the province of Périgord noir, a historic district that largely corresponds with the current department of Dordogne. The village is, in addition to its special position as an historical diorama, a veritable epicenter when it comes to gastronomie Périgourdine; placing you right in the middle of the area's terroir, with a fantastic selection of truffles, mushrooms, fois gras, confit de canard and local sweets among much else. Twice a week there is a market set up: every Wednesday and Saturday the whole village comes alive from early morning when local producers come to show off their high quality goods. The hustle, the bustle and the merry mood make the markets a reason in themselves to visit Sarlat!
Foto Sarlat-la-Caneda av Gilbert Bochenek  CC
For the dedicated fan of truffles and fois gras, the first and last months of the year are the most important, as from November to March there is a truffle market in the city every Sunday. This culminates in the festivities at the end of January, honoring the truffle and the fois gras!
Foto Sarlat-la-Caneda av MOSSOT
A former church, Ancienne Eglise Sainte-Marie, has been converted into a covered market and is a must for those interested in food. Here you can also take the opportunity to ride the elevator up the bell tower for an incomparable 360-degree view of the entire medieval city. The architect behind the glass elevator, Jean Nouvel, has worked on projects across large parts of the world, and in 2008 was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize for his contribution to the development of modern architecture; perhaps a somewhat ironic choice of architect for a village forbidden modernization? Right next to Sainte-Marie is the Manoir Gisson, one of the few medieval buildings open to the public. The house, which dates from the 13th century, consists of two architecturally separate parts that are joined by a hexagonal staircase. Today it is a museum, with well-preserved furnishings from the 17th century, and provides a unique insight into the life of a French upper-class family.
Foto Eglise Sainte-Marie av Manfred Heyde  CC
Among all of Sarlat's well-preserved medieval treasures, of special importance is the Cathédrale Saint Sacerdos de Sarlat, which was elevated from an abbey church to cathedral in connection with the founding of the bishopric of Sarlat in 1317. The forces of the French crown had suppressed the Cathar uprising, and Pope John XXII appointed the abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Saint Sacerdos as bishop of the new diocese. The old monastery with Romanesque origins thus became a cathedral and underwent a number of modifications through the centuries that followed. Today, the style is predominantly Gothic, but you will find architectural artifacts from many eras here.
Foto Sarlat-la-Caneda av Irina Crick
Sarlat's city center is teeming with small cozy bistros and brasseries, and to satisfy your hunger and give your feet a welcome rest, we can warmly recommend settling down at one of the many cozy outdoor cafes, flanked by medieval stone walls and strolling tourists. For a genuine local experience, try Chez Mourroux, l'Entrepôte or Gueule & Gosier, which all serve local, classic specialties; proper gastronomie Périgourdine. But it should be mentioned that the quality of restaurants on offer is consistently very high, you do not have to walk far to find first-class catering!
Foto Château de Beynac av Jean-Christophe_BENOIST  CC
If you venture outside the village itself, Périgord noir has many more adventures on offer! For example, the Château de Beynac in nearby Beynac-et-Cazenac, which we wrote about last week. The incomparable "Crystal Cathedral", Gouffre de Proumeyssac; an enormous, closed, crystal-adorned chasm that has given rise to many local myths and legends. There is also an abundance of caves in the area with relics from prehistoric times; with names like Lascaux, Rouffignac and Cro Magnon, there are cave paintings and excavations here that showcase the evolution of mankind towards our era; a destination in itself, well worth the trip!
Video - Sarlat-la-Canéda
Bruno Ohlzon
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