Sarlat Tourist Attractions
Sarlat Tourist Attractions
The alluring medieval city of Sarlat, situated in France’s Dordogne region, is a popular destination for both local and international visitors. Approximately 200 kilometers east of Bordeaux, in the rolling landscapes of Perigord Noir, lies this historical gem. The well-maintained golden sandstone buildings give the city charm and have endowed it with the status of being among the most remarkable medieval settlements not only in France, but also throughout Europe.
Tracing its origins back to 820 AD, the first settlers of Sarlat are said to be the monks of Calabre Abbey, who established a Benedictine Monastery at this location. Over several centuries, Sarlat underwent significant development, growing into a bustling and wealthy town. This prosperity is mirrored in the grand edifices and buildings that still stand today, exuding an undeniable historic charm.
However, Sarlat’s journey has not been without adversity. The town was severely impacted by numerous historic events, including the Hundred Years War, the French Revolution, the War of Religion, and a catastrophic plague in the early 1500s. Yet, Sarlat preserved, especially following the implementation of the Malraux Law in 1962. Andre Malraux, the architect of this law, led a significant restoration effort that saved numerous structures from demolition.
Today, Sarlat’s character is underpinned by its labyrinthine lanes and alleyways that unhesitatingly beckon visitors to wander, discover, and explore. It’s an incredible holiday destination filled with noteworthy tourist attractions.
Tourist Attractions in Sarlat
The most prominent among these attractions is the St. Sacerdos Cathedral. This astonishing structure stands tall in the southeastern corner of the old town. It was erected on the grounds of a 12th-century Benedictine Abbey and has had major additions during the 14th, 16th, and 17th centuries.
Near the cathedral, various other attractions vie for visitors’ attention, including the Fountain Courtyard, the Romanesque-style St Benoit Chapel, and the Jardin des Enfeus. The latter is adorned with tombstones and sarcophagi that date back to the 14th and 16th centuries.
Moreover, the La Lanterne des Morts monument offers another fascinating insight into Sarlat’s past. Once overseeing the cemetery, it now captivates many visitors with its intriguing history.
North of the cathedral lies Sarlat’s vibrant Town Square, known as the Place de la Liberté. Encircled by houses from the 16th and 17th centuries, the square is also home to the town hall and the St. Mary’s Church, Sarlat’s parish church during the 14th and 15th centuries. Badly damaged during the revolution and subsequently sold in 1815, the church now hosts a popular marketplace frequented by locals and tourists alike.
Beyond these attractions, Place de la Liberté provides a relaxed setting where visitors can sit, dine, and soak in Sarlat’s unique atmosphere from several outdoor dining options.
Other significant attractions include the La Boétie Residence – the birthplace of Etienne de La Boétie and a striking piece of architecture with its Italian Renaissance-style façade.
The Le Presidial, Sarlat’s seat of justice during the 16th century, offers an appealing loggia. Hotel De Gérard boasts a splendid renaissance gallery and often organizes art exhibitions.
Lastly, the Plamon House or Consuls’ House is another remarkable structure in Sarlat, attracting visitors with its unique architecture and history.
To truly experience the local ethos, a visit to Sarlat’s popular market is highly recommended. This bustling farmers’ market is held twice weekly, offering fresh local produce and food. On Wednesday mornings, you can browse various food stalls. However, Saturdays offer an extended market experience that runs all day, with food stalls open until 1 PM. The market is an integral part of Sarlat and offers a wonderful opportunity to experience the local culture firsthand.