Looking to visit one of the best medieval towns in France? This is your guide to visiting Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne Region. A picturesque, medieval town in the Périgord region cannot be missed for several reasons.
It was one of our favorite experiences while we lived in Bordeaux this summer. We booked ourselves a whole week in Sarlat to tour the town and the nearby area. Rich in cuisine, historic villages, and incredible sights, it had everything we wanted to experience.
When visiting the Dordogne Valley, this is a lovely spot to use as a home base. The fortified town itself has it all so you don’t have to leave if you choose not to. It’s an incredibly well-preserved medieval town that has markets, restaurants, and historic sights all inside. Then when you’re ready to explore the valley, you’re only 15-30 minutes to several things to see.
As an often overlooked region of France, you don’t want to miss it. After our time there, these are all my tips to help plan your visit to Sarlat.
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Ultimate Guide to Visiting Sarlat-la-Canéda, France
What to Know Before Visiting Sarlat-la-Canéda
When is the best time of year to visit Sarlat-la-Canéda?
While you can make a case for visiting Sarlat year-round, there are a few stand-out seasons. The late spring and early fall are favorites as the weather is still mild. Summer months in Sarlat are often very hot and overcrowded. I’d avoid peak summer months if possible and aim for the shoulder season of April, May, September, and October.
How many days to visit Sarlat-la-Canéda?
Sarlat the town itself can really be seen in one to two full days. But what makes this town so special is everything you can do nearby. I would recommend booking at least three to four nights to make the most of a visit to the Dordogne region.
Do I really need a car?
You don’t need a car for Sarlat specifically, but for the region yes. It’s advisable to have one so that you can explore nearby villages and sights.
When are the market days in Sarlat?
The Sarlat market is held twice a week on Wednesday morning and Saturday all day. It’s good to keep in mind that these days the traffic around the village gets really bad. If you need to leave, head out earlier than later for your day to avoid the traffic.
Where to Stay in Sarlat, France
Le Petit Manoir
Set in the historic center of Sarlat, this is the best choice for a boutique stay. Set inside an old manoir house, the elevated, Marie Antoinette-style rooms are luxurious. Don’t miss the pool in the backyard as well. FIND THE BEST RATES HERE
Hotel Plaza Madeleine À Sarlat
A very historic hotel in the heart of Sarlat, Hotel Plaza Madeleine is a central choice for a stay. The rooms are a bit older but maintain the 4-star luxury amenities. Each of the rooms is air-conditioned (a must for summer) and is sound-proofed. On the property, don’t miss the swimming pool and spa.
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Just outside the city center like the luxe Les Cordeliers. The suites are upscale, set with stand-alone tubs, air conditioning, and plush linens. For those who want a room with a terrace, there are a few options here. FIND THE BEST RATES HERE
The most modern choice for a luxury stay in Sarlat would be Hotel Montaigne. Elevated and chic rooms are available here. For those looking for family rooms, there are several options for groups of 4.
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Domaine de Rochebois
For an upscale, countryside retreat, Domaine de Rochebois is a perfect choice. It is outside of Sarlat but not too far away, giving you the best of both worlds. There is a golf course, spa, and wonderful pool to enjoy here during the warmer months. FIND THE BEST RATES HERE.
Where to Eat in Sarlat
La Petite Bistrot
An understated restaurant where you can normally get a last-minute table at. The food is very cozy
and laidback but delicious. Don’t miss the duck confit here!
Address: 7 Rue Tourny, 24200 Sarlat-la-Canéda, France
Maison Lizzajoux Boulangerie Pâtisserie
I cannot tell you how many times we came in here for pastries and coffee! It’s so delicious and they do other small plates for lunch too. Highly recommend popping in!
Address: 8 Av. du Général Leclerc, 24200 Sarlat-la-Canéda, France
Gueule & Gosier Restauant
A classic Sarlat-la-Canéda restaurant to dine at, be sure to reserve in advance. It’s very well known for its duck confit and baba rhum dessert. You’ll find a lot of traditional and regional dishes here.
Address: 1 Rue Salamandre, 24200 Sarlat-la-Canéda, France
Restaurant Aux 3 Sens
If you’re looking for very refined cuisine, book a table here. Their tasting menu will you take on a journey through local ingredients prepared in a very modern way.
Address: 15 Rue Fénelon, 24200 Sarlat-la-Canéda, France
For those wanting to sit at a wine bar, this spot is always packed with people. You can order charcuterie plates, and local cheese — don’t miss the escargot here.
Address: 1 Rue de la Paix, 24200 Sarlat-la-Canéda, France
Sometimes you may need a break from French food, so head here for classic pizzas done well. We took takeaway one night and it was such a lovely treat while in Sarlat.
Address: 3 Côte de Toulouse, 24200 Sarlat-la-Canéda, France
Other Restaurants to Consider:
Chez le Gaulois
Restaurant Le Grand Bleu
Le Bistrot Sarlat
The Best Things to Do in Sarlat-la-Canéda
Discover the old town of Sarlat by day and night
The old medieval town of Sarlat-la-Canéda has much to discover. Go for a stroll during the day to visit several sights. Take in the view from the Old Church of St. Mary, visit the Saint-Sacerdos Cathedral, and do pop into the market hidden inside the old Saint Marie Church. Just strolling through the town, you’ll find so much!
Come nighttime, the gaslit lanterns turn on and the entire town looks like a fairytale. It will be busy but so worth it to experience the old-world charm!
Visit Les Jardins de Marqueyssac
This is one of the best things to do near Sarlat-la-Canéda, I’d highly recommend booking this in advance. The Marqueyssac Gardens are one of the most beautiful, manicured gardens to stroll through atop a hill. It’s truly a sight to see, as you walk through the box hedges. It is open year-round, with several hours to choose from.
If you’re visiting in the summer months, the most unique experience they offer is to do the “Candlelight Evenings” offered every Thursday from dusk till midnight during the months of July and August. You must book a ticket in advance but plan to be there before sunset. The entire garden is set with candles and comes alive as the sun sets.
Entry fee for Les Jardins de Marqueyssac: 11,90€ for adults
Hours: year-around, hours varies
Experience the famous Sarlat-la-Canéda farmer’s market
One event draws in visitors from all over France and it’s the farmer’s market of Sarlat-la-Canéda. It’s held every Wednesday morning and all day Saturday. You’ll find several specialty items from foie gras, local truffles, walnut products, and regional produce. It’s a very special experience and well worth timing your trip to see it.
The market is held just through and next to the medieval old town. It’s a one-of-a-kind market in France, so be prepared to have tons of crowds. The earlier you can arrive the better!
Hours for Le Marche de Sarlat-la-Canéda: Wednesday mornings and Saturday all-day
Go visit the Château de Beynac and its village
If you take a drive to the Dordogne Valley, you’ll see the towering Château de Beynac atop a hill. It’s a wonderful visit and the town itself can’t be missed. You can tour inside, and see the historic rooms and artifacts. Afterward, stroll down to the gardens where you will get unparalleled views.
From there, make your way down to the village of Château de Beynac-et-Cazenac which is built up into the Périgord hillside. There are the most wonderful little streets to go to for a picturesque walk. You could start here and work your way up to the castle if you wanted to.
Entry fee for Château de Beynac: 9.50 € for adults
Hours: year-around, 10 am to 7 pm
Kayak the Dordogne River
This region is famous for the outdoor activities to be had, one being kayaking the Dordogne River! If you’re looking for a very scenic way to see the area, rent a kayak for the morning. One of the most scenic parts to go kayaking is near La Rogue Gageac, the small village built into the limestone cliffs.
Tour Chateau des Milandes and gardens
Our favorite experience in the Dordogne region was a morning spent exploring Chateau des Milandes and its grounds. It’s one of the most beautifully preserved castles in the Périgord region. Once owned by iconic Josephine Baker, the castle is now open to public visit.
I would recommend showing up at open to have it more empty before the crowds. First, go tour the castle and see the history and work of Josephine Baker. Afterward, go for a stroll through the expansive gardens. You’ll even find birds of prey from the region to see and other farm animals.
Entry fee for Château Milandes: 12.50 € for adults
Hours: 9 am – 8 pm for high season
Visit one of the many “Plus Beaux Villages de France” Nearby
The entire Périgord region and Dordogne Valley are home to several famous villages. There are many in the classification of “Plus Beaux Villages de France” which means they are the prettiest in France. The favorites we visited were Domme, Beynac-et-Cazenac, and La Rogue-Gageac.
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