The city of Sarlat is located in the south east of the Dordogne or Périgord, nestled between the Vézère valley to the north and the Dordogne valley to the south. This is the Black Perigord, the sites to visit are numerous in this part of the Dordogne.
The Vézère valley, also called“Man’s valley“, will certainly remind you of something, it gathers 25 major prehistoric sites, among which the very famous Lascaux cave and beautiful villages on the cliff side.
The valley of the Dordogne, less steep, ideal to explore by canoe or gabarre, offers incredible panoramas on the“Most Beautiful Villages of France“, the Roque Gaugeac and Beynac and on the medieval castles planted at the top of the villages, vestiges of the wars of former days.
For those of you who don’t miss any of our articles, I grew up in Périgueux, the capital of the Dordogne, located about 1h15 from Sarlat. I have been walking and discovering the many sites of the department since I was a child, and I always take as much pleasure in making Matthieu or my friends (not from Périgord) discover them!
In short, we can tell you that there is no shortage of things to see and do in Sarlat and its surroundings. We have prepared a 3-day itinerary below so you won’t miss anything!
- Where is Sarlat located?
- Visiting Sarlat and its surroundings : what to see and what to do ?
- Details of our 3-day itinerary [carte]
- Day 1: Sarlat and Lascaux, the must-sees
- Day 2: Dordogne Valley and its treasures
- Day 3 Les Eyzies and the wealth of its caves
- Where to sleep (hotel + camping) ?
- How to come to Sarlat ?
Where is Sarlat located?
Sarlat is located in the south east of the Dordogne, it is the capital of the Périgord Noir. The department is divided into 4 colored areas, white, red, green and black, each with its own particularities.
Visiting Sarlat and its surroundings : what to see and what to do ?
There is no shortage of things to see and do in Sarlat and its surroundings. We advise you to visit Sarlat and its surroundings in 3 days in order to take the time to explore the (very) numerous sites located at less than 30 minutes from Sarlat .
We have selected the villages, castles and caves that we believe are essential to understand the history of this incredible region and to fully enjoy the beauty of its landscapes.
During the spring school vacations and in July and August, we advise you to book your accommodation and activities in advance.
Details of our 3-day itinerary [carte]
- Day 1 (pink dots on the map) : Sarlat and Lascaux, the must-sees – Hôtel Montaigne in Sarlat
- Morning: Lascaux in Montignac: the origins of man
- Afternoon: Sarlat or how to fall in love with the Dordogne
- Day 2 (orange dots on the map) : Dordogne Valley and its treasures – Hotel Montaigne in Sarlat
- Morning : The Dordogne along the water
- Afternoon: Discovering the “Most Beautiful Villages in France” and its castles
- Day 3 (green dots on the map) : Les Eyzies and its surroundings
- Morning: Les Eyzies, the origins of man
- Afternoon: Go down into the largest equipped cave in the Périgord
Day 1: Sarlat and Lascaux, the must-sees
Lodging : Hotel Montaigne in Sarlat
Morning: Lascaux in Montignac: the origins of man
It is in Montignac, north of Sarlat, that the cave of Lascaux was discovered in 1940. After about fifteen years of intensive exploitation and visits, small green algae started to develop. To compensate for this deterioration, a replica as accurate as possible, Lascaux II, was made at 200 meters from the original cave, you can see the entrance in the photo below.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit this extraordinary replica several times, it was a school or family outing quite common when you grow up in the Dordogne as you can give yourself! My memories are quite precise, the illusion was total, the temperature, the atmosphere… everything let us believe that it was the original and the visit was damn incredible.
How to visit Lascaux today?
Today, you have two options:
- Lascaux II, always visited in small groups, from April to September (beware there are really few places)
- The International Center of Cave Art, also called Lascaux IV, can be visited all year round, with the cave reproduced in its entirety and a museum, located away from the original site.
This visit is more complete and interactive with many animations on screen proposed. A site that will please young and old alike, you can book your tickets with audio guide in advance online (especially in high season). Entrance fee 6€ per adult – Allow 2-3 hours for the visit.
For those who follow, we have gone from Lascaux II to Lascaux IV, so for the more mathematically inclined among us, you are probably wondering “What is Lascaux III? So it was a travelling exhibition, which was installed for three months at Cap Sciences, in Bordeaux before being exported around the world.
How to prepare your visit?
If you have time beforehand, we advise you to watch the documentary “C’est pas sorcier au sujet des hommes Préhistoriques”, as always very complete and simple to understand, thank you Jamie!
At the end of your visit, don’t forget to visit Montignac, a charming little village along the Vézère river.
➡️Si you want greenery and freshness, the Gardens of Eyrignac are subtly worked, you will leave zen as ever, located 20 minutes northeast of Sarlat, a site to integrate between Lascaux and Sarlat.
Afternoon: Sarlat or how to fall in love with the Dordogne
Clearly Sarlat is the little jewel of the Dordogne and the Périgord. Its medieval center will impress you with its uniformity and beauty. The old Sarlat marries the styles of different periods going from the Middle Ages to the XVIth century with all the same 66 classified monuments.
In short, this is a city that we love to walk around, explore and show off!
We won’t go into detail here, as we have devoted a complete article to Sarlat, with our top 10 must-see and must-do items, as well as our ideal walking itinerary and, of course, all our practical advice (where to eat? where to sleep?)
Day 2: Dordogne Valley and its treasures
Lodging : Hotel Montaigne in Sarlat
Morning : The Dordogne along the water
Explore Dordogne by canoe, in a few strokes of the paddle you will feel immediately elsewhere and this walk will offer you beautiful views of castles and perched villages.
Thanks to our friend Kevin, our canoeing expert in the Dordogne, who has been practicing canoeing in a club for many years and who recommended this canoeing trip to us. According to him, it is the easiest and most beautiful trip in the Dordogne (he has explored all the routes)!
Afternoon: Discovering the “Most Beautiful Villages in France” and its castles
We recommend eating at La Roque Gageac and then exploring several sites in the vicinity, all of which are classified as“Les Plus Beaux Villages de France“, Domme and Beynac, and then finishing with the village (also classified) and the castle of Castelnaud
Cette excursion d’une demi-journée organisée dans la vallée de la Dordogne, au départ de Sarlat pourrait vous intéresser. Elle inclut les villages de Domme, La Roque Gageac et Beynac ainsi que le château de Beynac
La Roque Gageac
This village, embedded between the Dordogne river and the cliff, with its houses clinging to the cliffs, is of an incredible beauty.
We advise you to take the small (and unique) path, which goes up in the village, to enjoy a green vegetation and beautiful views on the village and the river. 10km from Sarlat
Large parking lot located at the level of the docks.
Domme, located 10 minutes from La Roque Gageac, is a village still surrounded by ramparts, built on the heights of a cliff its belvedere which dominates the meanders of the Dordogne river offers a breathtaking view of the valley. 12km south of Sarlat
We advise you to park your car in the outside parking lot located below
Castelnaud La Chapelle
It is the castle to visit in Dordogne, dating from the XIIth century, it was restored during several years, and it offers an exceptional panorama on the castle of Beynac, the gardens of Marqueyssac and the village of La Roque-Gageac – 9km south of Sarlat
Price high season visit 11,9€ per adult and low season 10,90€ per adult, think to book in July and August – -20% with the PassVisitPérigord
Its medieval village is also classified in “Les Plus beaux villages de France”.
Beynac and Cazenac
Beynac and celebrates its castle, a setting that served as a backdrop for the film “Les Visiteurs“. Once again this medieval village is also classified in “Les Plus beaux villages de France”, we can find there the houses in white stones and the roofs in lauze which make the fame of the Périgourdins villages. – At 11km from Sarlat
Day 3 Les Eyzies and the wealth of its caves
Morning: Les Eyzies, the origins of man
Les Eyzies de Tayac is a village nestled in the cliffs, a high place of the Périgord and considered as the“small world capital of prehistory“, since many shelters in the surrounding cliffs were used as dwellings by the first men. 20 km east of Sarlat. Entrance fee 6€ per adult free on the 1st Sunday of the month
We advise you to visit the museum of the prehistory which gathers the various elements (tools, jewels, bones, pottery…) found in the caves in the surroundings of which that of Lascaux I. This museum will allow you to learn more about the origins of man in a playful and chronological way. It’s an ideal outing to do with the family
There is not only Lascaux to visit in Dordogne, many caves a few kilometers from Sarlat are open to the public. We recommend the Combarelles cave, which contains more than 800 engravings (Horses, Reindeers, Wolves, Bisons…). Entrance fee 11€ per adult free on the 1st Sunday of the month
During your stay, it will allow you to see an ornate cave (Lascaux) and a cave with engravings (Combarelles)!
Afternoon: Go down into the largest equipped cave in the Périgord
This abyss will impress you by its depth and its geological wealth. You can go down on foot in a tunnel or in a gondola as in the time of its discovery – At 28km from Sarlat
For families, Santa Claus visits the children in the abyss by descending through the gondola, magic guaranteed, our daughter loved it.
Price of the visit 11€ per adult 45 minutes of commented visit – -20% with the PassVisitPérigord
Where to sleep (hotel + camping) ?
We recommend you to sleep in Sarlat to be able to enjoy the numerous animations and restaurants in the evening. You can also opt for a campsite in the vicinity of Sarlat to be able to radiate and park easily.
We recommend you to stay at theHotel Montaigne very well located, 1 minute walk from the medieval center of Sarlat, you can visit the whole city on foot.
Les chambres sont spacieuses et très propres, le matelas était hyper confortable. There is air-conditioning, which was very appreciated during the hot summer days. Free parking in low season. In short, an excellent quality/price ratio!
We advise you to book your accommodation in advance, during the school vacations and in high season, the hotels are quickly full, because Sarlat is a very popular small town in summer!
You will find your happiness by consulting the different campsites in Dordogne here, you can sort according to the type of accommodation and facilities offered (swimming pools, parking …)
The residence “Les Coteaux de Sarlat ” is ideally located at only 2km from the center of Sarlat.
We had a lot of fun sharing all this information about these places in the Dordogne that we love. If you have a little more time, don’t hesitate to stop in Périgueux, the capital of the Dordogne, known for its historical center, its Gallo-Roman museum and its Saint Front cathedral with its Byzantine-inspired domes that proudly dominate the city.
How to come to Sarlat ?
- By car: Most parking spaces in the city center are subject to a fee. Nevertheless, we were pleasantly surprised that, for once, the town hall has devoted a detailed and very clear page to the different parking zones around Sarlat, indicating precisely which periods are paid and which are free.
- By train: the train station is located a few minutes walk from the city center. The B bus line connects the station to the city center. The train ride from Paris is quite long, about 4 hours, with a connection in Limoges or a connection in Bordeaux. The train from Bordeaux is direct (1h15 minutes).
- By plane: this is a faster option. From Paris, Air France’s Hop company connects Orly airport to Brive airport in 1 hour for very attractive rates.
When arriving in Brive, renting a car is the best option to reach Sarlat in a short hour and you can explore the area.
We had a lot of fun writing this article about this region that we know (almost) by heart. We would like to thank our families and friends who have given us valuable advice. We also update this article regularly since we come to the Dordogne several times a year.
Feel free to drop us a line below to let us know if you’re planning this trip, to drop 5 stars, to ask any questions you may have here or on our Instagram we’ll get back to you with great pleasure!