What to see in France

Sarlat, city of art and history

Cité médiévale de Sarlat
Cité médiévale de Sarlat

The town of Sarlat-la-Canéda, called Sarlat-la-Canéda, is a historic town in the Black Perigord, a commune in the south-west of France and in the New Aquitaine region. It is famous for its architecture, which dates mainly from the medieval and early Renaissance periods. It will evolve over the centuries to become a modern city rich in history. The town has preserved 100% of its ancient architecture and is now one of the most beautiful medieval ensembles in Europe.

What could be more pleasant than to stroll through the maze of winding streets, 15th and 16th century mansions and vaulted passageways where centuries of history are told before your eyes? The sculpted windows and the ochre stones, whose natural light changes according to the time of day or the season, leave no marble untouched.

The essentials

The medieval city can be visited with a guide all year round. There are also night visits (information at the tourist office). The tourist office also offers visits for children aged 8 to 12. One hour and a half during which the toddlers are most often captivated while having fun. These guided tours are offered two days a week in April, July and August.

And then what a pity to be in Sarlat without going to see the Maison de la Boétie, the Hôtel du Barry or the Saint-Sacerdos Cathedral which are among the must-sees of the medieval town.

Gastronomy of Sarlat

Depending on the season, you will find daily open-air markets in Sarlat, as well as the covered market set up by Jean Nouvel in the former Sainte-Marie church. It is here that you can easily find the best local products. The specialities of the south-west such as foie gras, confit or duck breast, but also and more precisely the specialities of Sarlat such as truffles (whose peak season is winter), figs and walnuts. A gastronomy which you can enjoy all year round!


The black Perigord truffle
The black Perigord truffle© Thinkstock

Unusual activities

Street performance is one of the less common and more original activities in Sarlat. The actors take over the squares and alleyways and the magic works with the twilight. Note that these events are spontaneous, which explains why there is no programming but adds to the charm and magic of Sarlat.

The Belvedere is also one of the unusual activities that are warmly recommended. Visit the interior of the Sainte Marie church, magnificently transformed into a market as mentioned above. It is from here that you can take the panoramic lift, all in glass and located in the bell tower. Once at the top, you can observe the city from an exceptional 360° angle, a breathtaking view!

Around the city

Classified as one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France, La Roque-Gageac, located 12 kilometres from Sarlat, is built on a cliffside between the rock and the river. One inevitably falls under the charm of this little jewel of the Périgord where history and nature mingle at the bend of each lane. From the river and on a "gabarre" (traditional boat) you can discover the village in a different way.

The villages of Beynac and Cazenac can be visited at the same time, as they are both located south-west of Sarlat and 5 kilometres from each other. Its 12th century castle dominates the village. It is also one of the best preserved in the region. Beynac and Cazenac is also one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France.

Just ten kilometres from Sarlat, the hanging gardens from Marqueyssac to Vezac are a real breath of fresh air. Gardens made up solely of 150,000 century-old box trees which will offer you 6 kilometres of walks as well as a magnificent panorama of the Dordogne valley. A family visit as there are activities on site for children and adults. You can also enjoy night-time visits in the summer. An exceptional listed site, which makes it the most visited garden in the Périgord.


Finally, when one decides to visit Sarlat and its surroundings, one also thinks of the caves and chasms. Around Sarlat, we advise you Lascaux of course, classified as a historical monument in Montignac (25 km from Sarlat), but also the Sorcerer's cave situated in St-Cirq de-Bugue (27 km from Sarlat) and the Proumeyssac abyss in Le Bugue at the same time, as they are less than 10 kilometres away from each other.


Even if the Sarlat campsites are not located in the town centre, you will find about fifteen campsites in the surrounding area which will make it easier for you to visit the medieval town while making children happy. You will discover that Sarlat also rhymes with family holidays!

The pleasure of bathing

In the region, swimming is possible in the Dordogne and even recommended when it is very hot in the summer! There are several beaches with free access, but beware of unsupervised beaches which can sometimes be dangerous with children.


The leisure base of Grolejac, only 15 kilometres from Sarlat is perfect with children. A magnificent 45-hectare wooded domain, it has a fine sandy beach where swimming is supervised, as well as a refreshment bar, sanitary facilities and a car park. You will be able to practise swimming, fishing and pedal boats. The Groléjac marsh is one of the five regional nature reserves of Aquitaine. You can discover this natural area by boat or on foot along a path of gratings placed on the surface of the water, and you can learn about the vital importance of the marshes for the environment thanks to information panels along the way. (2€ per person).


The Etang de Tamniès, located between Sarlat, Montignac and Les Eyzies, also offers supervised swimming and a 4500 m2 beach of fine sand. Just like the leisure centre of Groléjac, the Etang de Tamniès takes great care of nature, so it has the Blue Flag label which guarantees the quality of the bathing water but also the management of waste, water and natural resources. (2€ per person over 5 years old).

La Roque Gageac from the Dordogne River
La Roque Gageac from the Dordogne River© Thinkstock






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