Sarlat la Caneda

Sarlat, one of the most beautiful towns in southwestern France

Often called just Sarlat, the town is actually called Sarlat la Caneda. The town is in a region known in France as the Perigord Noir (the Black Périgord). Sarlat is a medieval town that developed around a large Benedictine abbey of Carolingian origin and has remained well preserved and is one of the towns most representative of 14th century France. Sarlat can be visited both on our independent walking holiday Delights of Dordogne and our self guided cycling tour Classic Dordogne Cycling

In 1962 Sarlat became the trial town of a new law called the 'loi Malraux' which set out to protect the patrimony of French towns. Money was provided to restore Sarlat's fine buildings and it now has the highest density of 'Historic Monuments' and 'Classified Monuments' of any town in France. Resistance fighter and politician Andre Malraux, as Minister of Culture (1960–1969), restored the town and many other sites of historic significance throughout France.

The pedestrianised Rue de la Republique runs the length of the old town, with mazes of narrow streets either side. The cathedral, in the south-east of the town, was originally the church of Sarlat Abbey. It has been added to over the centuries and is now a mixture of styles, including Roman and Gothic. The Cour du Cloitre, Cour des Fontaines and the Cour des Chanoines were all originally part of the abbey and the Jardin des Enfeus is the ancient abbey cemetery and there are several sarcophaguses and tombs built into the church wall.

The Rue des Consuls is one of the highlights of Sarlat and contains a number of very impressive mansions. There is the 14th century Hotel Plamon with its three arched windows, the Hotel de Vassal built in the 15th century with its double turret and the Manoir de Gisson made up of two buildings of different styles linked together by a hexagonal tower. The building dates back to the 13th century and is open to the public. You can visit the vaulted cellars and rooms which exhibit items on the history of Justice from the Middle Ages to the Revolution as well as the apartments showing home life for the Sarlat nobility. The furniture dates from the Middle Ages to the 17th century and you can see the spiral staircase which goes up the hexagonal tower.

Outside the Manoir de Gisson is the Place du Marché des Oies, the goose market with a statue of some geese in the centre. The region is well known for its production of foie gras.

The town's main square, the Place de la Liberté is paved and pedestrianised and surrounded by some magnificent buildings and has views towards the bell tower of the cathedral. This is a good place to take a break from your town exploration as many of the buildings are restaurants.

On Day 3 of our independent walking holiday Delights of Historical Dordogne you have the opportunity to walk into Sarlat to explore its winding medieval streets and beautiful architecture.

On Day 3 of our self guided cycling holiday Classic Dordogne Cycling you will cycle from Rocamadour following the Dordogne valley westwards to Sarlat. You can then explore the streets and relax as you will be staying the night in a hotel in this wonderful medieval town.

More on the Dordogne

See other French independent walking holidays destinations


cycling holiday dordogne sarlat France


main square, Sarlat

Sarlat, Dordogne