The beautiful,well restored town of Sarlat, administratively twinned with nearby La Caneda,is the capitalof Perigord Noir. Established around a Benedictine abbey founded in the late 8th century, the town became prosperous in the Middle Ages, but was ravaged during the Hundred Years War (when it was on the border between French and English territory) and the Wars of Religion. These days, Sarlat’s medieval and Renaissance old town – much of it is built of tan sandstone in the 16th and 17th centuries – attracts large numbers of tourists, especially for the year – round Saturday market. You will need to book accommodation way ahead in the high season.
The main toirist office :
It opens 9 am to 7 pm Monday to Saturday (10 am to noon and 2 pm to 6 pm on Sunday) from April to October (9 am to noon and 2 pm to 7 pm Monday to Saturday, from November to April) Pick up it’s excellent free Guide Pratique, detailing a walking tour round the old town. From April to October the tourist office runs 90 minute guided walking tours of the old town at least twice daily. They are usually in French only and cost €3.80 / 2.30 adult / child.
There are several banks, including Credit Lyonnais on the rue de la Republique.
Post & Communication
The main post office on place du 14 Juillet has currency exchange and internet facillities. You can also connect to the internet at Cyber Espace on 13 ave Gambetta, for €1.50 per 15 minutes. A pay by card Internet facility is also available at Le Central Cafe on 19 rue de la Republique.
The Cathedrale St-Sacerdos once part of Sarlat’s Cluniac abbey, is a hotchpotch of styles. The wide, airy nave and it’s chapels date from the 17th century; the cruciform chevet is from the 14th century; and the western entrance and much of the belfry above it are 12th- century Romanesque. The organ dates from 1752. Behind the cathedral is the Jardin des Enfeus, Sarlats first cemetery, and the 12th century Lanterne des Mortis (Lantern of the Dead) which looks like the top of a missile. It may have been built to commemorate St Bernard, who visited Sarlat in 1147and whos relics were given to the abbey. Across the square from the front of the cathedral is the ornatefacade of the Renaissance Maison de la Boetie birthplace of the 16th century writer Etiennede la Boetie.
The biggest event on the cultural calender is the festival des Jeux du Theatre, with events in churches and on place de la Liberte over a fortnight at the end of July.
The festival du Cinema in early November at Le Rex cinema complex ave Thiers, features a week’s worth of good French movies
GETTING THERE AND AWAY
Sarlat has very poor bus and train links to the rest of the region.
There’s no bus station – departures are from the train station. The tourist office has timetables.
CFTA run services to Perigueux ( 1.5h) via Montignac ( 30min. ) the nearest town to Lascaux , twice daily. To Brive (1.5h via back roads ) check tourist office for times. A trans -Perigord bus runs from the train station to Souillac via the Dordogne Valley 3 to 4 times daily ( 50min. )
The train station ( 0553590021 ) is 1.3 km south of the old town. Sarlat is directly linked to Bordeaux 3 to 4 times daily ( 2.5 hours) via Bergerac ( 1.5 hours ) for more info contact the tourist office.
CAR & TAXI
Europcar (0553303040) has an office near the train station. Cheaper ADA LOCATIONS (0553299795, Fax. 0553302538 )is on the route de Brive. For a taxi call. 0553590243.
PLACES TO STAY
B&B Ferme de Tayac is just 15 drive from the center of Sarlat