Sarlat is a medieval city in the south-east of the Dordogne region, which leaves no visitor indifferent. The capital of the Périgord Noir region blends styles from different periods, from the Middle Ages to the 16th century.
For those of you who read us regularly, I’m originally from Périgueux, the capital of the Dordogne, about 1h15 from Sarlat, so I know this department (almost) by heart. I’ve always fallen in love with Sarlat and I still love wandering around there at any time of year.
Sarlat will certainly ring a bell, as it’s the third most filmed city in France . This city of exceptional charm is also classified as a City of Art and History, with 66 classified monuments.
Below, we’ve put together our top 10 must-sees and must-do’s in Sarlat, as well as our ideal walking itinerary, to help you plan your Sarlat stay! We hope you will enjoy Sarlat as much as we do!
- How to visit Sarlat ?
- What’s the difference between Sarlat-La-Caneda and Sarlat?
- What to do and see in Sarlat ? our top 10
- Our itinerary, in the medieval center, on foot [carte]
- Visit Sarlat with your family
- What are the specialties and what to bring back from Sarlat?
- Practical information (hotel, restaurants, parking…)
- What villages and sites to visit around Sarlat?
How to visit Sarlat ?
The best way is to park (we’ll explain everything below)outside the medieval and historiccenter, then wander the narrow streets of old Sarlat on foot.
What’s the difference between Sarlat-La-Caneda and Sarlat?
Ah, it’s the same town, Sarlat-la-Canéda is more commonly known as Sarlat, its little diminutive! In the Dordogne, we like to make life easier for ourselves and often call things two ways (like the Dordogne and the Périgord)!
What to do and see in Sarlat ? our top 10
- Sarlat from the air, in the bell tower of the former Eglise Sainte Marie
- Birthplace ofEtienne de la Boétie, a town of Stars
- Sarlat and its film sets
- The famous statute of the geese in bronze, the goose is the emblem of Sarlat.
- Gastronomic markets that will make you want to taste everything
- Summer evening entertainment to liven up the evenings
- Sarlat by night: as soon as night falls, thegaslights come on, and then the magic happens!
- Place de la liberté, the heart of Sarlat
- The unusual Lanterne des morts building
- The many events that will keep you coming back for more!
1. Sarlat seen from the sky
Take the height to admire Sarlat seen from the sky, embark on a glass elevator located in the bell tower of the old Church of St. Mary that will climb to about 40 meters high to have a 360 degree view of Sarlat.
This feat is the work of the architect Jean Nouvel who spent his childhood in Sarlat, a city of art, history and STARS!
2. Birthplace of Etienne de la Boétie
Discover the imposing house where Etienne de la Boétie was born, located in the middle of the medieval center, you can’t miss it!
3. Film sets
Stroll along the cobbled streets to rediscover the medieval settings used in many French films, such as “Les Visiteurs” and “Jeanne d’arc”…
4. A little “Selfoie
Take a selfie or a picture with the famous bronze geese, the emblems of Sarlat, located on the market square.
Meet local producers and try one of the many Périgord specialties at Sarlat’s outdoor and indoor markets.
Sarlat’s year-round market is held behind the large doors of the former Sainte-Marie church, and in winter the truffle and fat markets are held here.
This former church has been rehabilitated into a covered market, once again by Jean Nouvel. You won’t be able to miss its imposing and magnificent 15-meter high double door.
6. Summer evening entertainment
Take advantage of the summer evening entertainment– there’s no programme, just stroll through the old town of Sarlat and you’ll come face to face with street artists who really liven up the town, its streets and squares.
7. Sarlat by night
As soon as night falls, the gaslightscome on in the historic and medieval center, and the magic begins to happen. It’s time to rediscover Sarlat.
8. The Place de la liberté, the lively center of Sarlat
Have a drink at Place de la Liberté, located in the heart of the historic center, to observe local life.
9. The sumptuous Lantern of the Dead
Observe the Lantern of the Dead, an unusual 10-metre-high building located behind the cathedral.
10. The events to come back all year long
In the Dordogne, we love to party, there’s always something going on somewhere, and in Sarlat too, of course, the many cultural and gastronomic events set the town alight throughout the year:
- January: it’s the feast of the truffle, the black diamond of Périgord.
- March: Sarlat celebrates the goose, a weekend of festivities around the emblem of the Sarlat region: the goose
- May: local produce days
- July and August: street artists bring the town to life.
- September: Sarlat celebrates its gastronomy once again with the Taste and Gastronomy Days. As well as the Night of the Heritage, an evening during which all the streets of the city are illuminated with candles, in short an evening where the magic operates!
- November: the film festival.
- December: the sublime Christmas market in the heart of theold Sainte-Marie church.
Our itinerary, in the medieval center, on foot [carte]
This is the most interesting part of Sarlat. You’ll certainly get a sense of uniformity as you explore its historic center, as all the buildings are made of stone in golden hues and the sloping roofs are built with lauzes (limestone slabs). Come on, we’ll take you with us!
Start your exploration of the medieval center at the impressive Saint-Sacerdos cathedral (A), where you can visit the interior free of charge, then continue on to the Maison de la Boetie (B), almost opposite, and stroll along rue Montaigne to the circular building La lanterne des morts, (C) a sepulchral chapel of original architecture.
Then take Landry Street to the Presidial (D), the seat of royal justice from the 16th to the 18th century, then take rue Fénelon and stop at the passage Gérard de Barry (E), to admire the beautiful mansion and stop place de la liberté (F), the nerve center of Sarlat, to admire the town hall.
Enjoy the outdoor market and the covered market in theformer Sainte-Marie church (G). It’s time to take the elevator to see Sarlat from the sky.
Don’t forget to take a selfie or a photo of Sarlat’s emblem, the goose, in front of the bronze statute (H). The Manoir de Gisson is located on this same square, then take the Rue des Consuls to thestaircase (I) which belonged to the ramparts that protected the town.
Finally, relax and enjoy local specialities in one of the many restaurants in the town center (our recommendation below).
TheTourist Office is located right in the historic center, 3 rue de Tourny, next to the huge Saint-Sacerdos Cathedral.
It takes about 2 hours to complete the 1.5km course!
Visit Sarlat with your family
To explore the medieval center with your family, you can download thefree mobile geocaching app: Terra aventure. The Le Périgord route is simply brilliant, with or without children!
How does Terra Aventura work? the application proposes routes in different places in New Aquitaine, players visualize their position on the map and must answer the riddles to advance from stage to stage. We love the principle of this application, because we are guided to explore the cities and we learn a lot about history, architecture, gastronomy… All this in a fun way, for young and old alike!
Our daughter is still a little small to fully enjoy it, we have tested it withother children and they love it every time!
Allow 2h30 to complete the entire route, which takes in the most emblematic sites of old Sarlat, and to find the treasure!
What are the specialties and what to bring back from Sarlat?
The culinary specialties in Dordogne Perigord are numerous and delicious, it is clearly not the time to start a diet!
- Black truffles offer an intense taste, and are tried and tested when grated into omelettes or butter.
- Geese and ducks, the star products of the Périgord, in confit, magret or foie gras, are always a delight in moderation!
- The Sarlatan potatoes that go wonderfully well with all meats
- Porcini mush rooms enhance Sarlat-style potatoes or omelettes
- Walnuts andwalnut oil that will season all your appetizers
- And of course, don’t forget to accompany all these delicious dishes with local wines.
Practical information (hotel, restaurants, parking…)
Where to park in Sarlat ?
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.
Here is the map you can find on the page, the blue zones offer free parking all year long. The other areas are Free parking between 12:00 and 2:00 pm (except on rue de la République) and the first hour of parking is free all year long.
Where to eat?
For those of you who follow us, you know that we love coming back to the Dordogne to eat. We’re lucky to have such a great offer, with so many chefs who know how to sublimate the products of our beloved terroir!
- Coin coin: it is a must during your stay in Sarlat, which proposes refined tapas, carefully prepared with local products: croquettes of duck confit, croque with truffle… an address not to be missed in Sarlat.
- La Galerie: a snack bar that offers a menu with two nice kebabs, a bowl of fries and a bowl of salad (in the evening 16€). An original address, with quality products, without breaking the bank.
- Maison Lissajoux : for breakfast or brunch in an incredible, tastefully-decorated venue, offering quality products and incredibly good, beautiful pastries. In short, look no further than this must-try bakery and patisserie during your stay.
- Le Comptoir Authentique: a store offering a wide range of local products, foie gras, terrines, walnut cake, walnut beer… and gourmet sandwiches to eat in or take away before exploring the Sarlat area!
Where to sleep?
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, excellent value for money!
We advise you to book your accommodation in advance, as hotels fill up quickly during the school vacations and high season, as Sarlat is a very popular small town in summer!
What villages and sites to visit around Sarlat?
The Périgord Noir is packed with sites, from villages classified as “France’s most beautiful villages“, to ornate caves, chasms, gardens, castles, water sports and sporting activities, you’ll soon realize that one stay isn’t enough to discover it all! We recommend that you spend 3 days in and around Sarlat!
The unmissable, full replica of the Lascaux cave, the new site offers an immersive and interactive experience, the museum will appeal to young and old, 30 minutes north of Sarlat
Les Eyzies de Tayac is a village nestled in the cliffs, a mecca of the Périgord, with a prehistory museum and numerous decorated caves in the area, 30 minutes east of Sarlat.
Beynac is famous for its castle, the backdrop for the film “Les Visiteurs“.
Don’t miss the castle of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle with its impressive fortified castle founded in the 12th century. They were rivals during the conflicts of the Middle Ages – 20 minutes south of Sarlat.
La Roque-Gageac and Domme
Two beautiful villages, La Roque Gageaca village nestled between the cliff and the river, then head for Domme10 minutes away, a village built on the heights of a cliff overlooking the Dordogne river, with a beautiful view over the Dordogne valley. These 2 villages are classified as “villages of the Dordogne”.France’s most beautiful villages“20 minutes south of Sarlat.
La Roque Gageac is the third most visited site in France after Mont-Saint-Michel and Rocamadour.
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
This chasm will impress you with its depth and geological riches – 30 minutes west of Sarlat.
For the families Santa Claus visits the children in the chasm, descending by gondola – magic guaranteed, our daughter loved it.
Gardens of Eyrignac
The Gardens of Eyrignac are subtly worked, you will come out of it as zen as ever! 20 minutes north-east
Explore the Dordogne by canoe or Gabarre, 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.
Périgueux, the pearl of the Dordogne
Périgueux is a must-see during your stay in the Dordogne. A native of Périgueux, I love my city as much as I love showing it off, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Saint-Front Cathedral, with its Byzantine-inspired domes proudly dominating the capital of Périgord, is a monument to be seen at least once in your life!
A little anecdote: the restoration of Saint-Front cathedral was carried out by Paul Abadie, the architect who went on to design the Sacré-Coeur basilica in Paris, so you’re sure to see a few similarities!
Take advantage of your visit to try the local specialties in one of the many restaurants of Périgueux located in the historical center!
We really enjoyed writing this article about a city and region we know (almost) by heart. If you liked this article, feel free to drop 5 stars below. 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 note below to let us know if you are planning this trip, ask any questions or share on social media(our Instagram) we will be more than happy to respond!