Sarlat - Périgord noir



Sarlat has the highest concentration of medieval buildings in Europe and is one of the best preserved examples of a 14th century Renaissance town in the country. From its medieval beginnings around the Benedictine Abbey, it developed in the 15th century into an important geo- political hub and Renaissance architecture flourished with it. The entire town centre shows off the perfectly preserved roots of its medieval past. Untouched and homogenous, Sarlat is awash with honey-coloured limestone manors, medieval townhouses and a skyline of steep pitched lauze roofs and turrets.

TV and film production shoots occur regularly and the town has been turned into a film set on many occasions. Films such as ‘Chocolat’, with Juliette Binoche and ‘Ever After: A Cinderella Story’ starring Drew Barrymore to name just two, have made Sarlat the third most often used location in France. Some of the town’s architectural highlights include the Cathédrale Saint-Sacerdos and nearby Abbey, the 13th century Manoir de Gisson with its castle like features and the birthplace of renowned writer/philosopher Étienne de La Boétie - the Maison de la Boétie.

Glorious architecture and medieval cobbled streets are only part of the draw of this historic place though. It is also a hot spot for gastronomy and cultural events year round. Unquestionably Sarlat is synonymous with the food and wine and every other imaginable dish this region of culinary delights serves up. The largest market in the region sees the entire historic centre of Sarlat turned over to market stands on Saturdays throughout the year. Mouth-watering Foie Gras, delectable truffles, fresh magret duck breasts, a smorgasbord of food sellers, artisanal products and the shops of the town combine into the largest and most visited market in the entire Dordogne Valley.



Attracting over 200,000 visitors each year this yuletide treat is famous throughout the region. When the weather turns Christmassy the centre of Sarlat is trimmed and decorated into a Christmas village and market. Full of boutique Christmas gifts, mulled wine, local beer and great food it’s an excellent way to get enthused with the Christmas spirit. Each year sees the market adopt a different theme. In the year when England was given the honours, even Queen Elizabeth II turned up in a Mini Cooper to do a spot of last minute shopping.



The town is also vibrant and alive to a seemingly never ending series of events. The Sarlat truffle market in January, ‘Fest’Oie’ Foie Gras festival in March and the Christmas market are yearly staples. Marchés Gourmands occur regularly. A night food market with a twist, diners choose their dinner from food stalls that prepare it and then joining the other locals, sit down to eat it at long tables, with music and drinking. Throughout the summer the medieval town is alive with musicians, clowns and street artists. Free concerts are a regular feature of the nightlife in the town, as the warm summer nights draw partygoers from around the region and travellers for free music, dancing and good times. The November Sarlat Film Festival, live open air theatre and regular art events all make the cultural capital of the region a sensory overload of reasons to visit.



Located in the Vézère Valley, classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Terrasson is a major thoroughfare for travellers visiting the world renowned Lascaux caves, home to the most prized Palaeolithic cave paintings in the world. Gateway to the Périgord region, the town of Terrasson was founded in the 6th century with the establishment of the Saint Sour Abbey monastery. The bridge over the Vézère River cemented the growth of the historic medieval centre during the 15th and 16th centuries. Sometimes overlooked by travellers rushing to see Lascaux, the historic town of Terrasson is well worth a visit. A highlight is the magnificent Saint Sour Abbey with commanding views of the historic town. Take a stroll through the alleys of the old town and discover 16 creative arts workshops (knife maker, glass blower, potter...) where creations ‘made in Terrasson’ are produced on site. Also not to be missed are the renowned Jardins de l’Imaginaire. 13 magnificent contemporary garden designs, spread over six hectares, overlooking the town and Vézère River below. Nearby Terrasson, a must see is Château Hautefort, a luxurious residential castle with ornate classical French gardens to boot.



Located halfway between Sarlat and Les Eyzies, this architecturally unique ancient hamlet boasts mysteriously shaped stone roofed houses, formerly home to the 15th century Benedictine monks of Sarlat.