Enjoy a short break in Sarlat-la-Canéda

Sarlat-la-Caneda in Dordogne © -lvinst- / ThinkstockPhotos

Sarlat-la-Caneda in Dordogne © -lvinst- / ThinkstockPhotos - Credit: Getty Images

The Dordogne town of Sarlat-la-Canéda is a haven for history lovers and foodies and perfect for a short break

The Dordogne area has long been a popular destination for the British, and Sarlat-la-Canéda is one of its most beautiful towns. Lying just north of the River Dordogne, Sarlat has clusters of well-preserved, honey-coloured buildings and picture-postcard squares that have attracted film-makers as well as tourists.

Strolling through the maze of narrow streets, you will be surrounded by striking medieval architecture; examples include the 11th-century Cathédrale Saint-Sacerdos, which is a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles. Just behind the cathedral stands the ‘lanterne des morts’, a giant conical monument honouring Saint Bernard, a leading figure in the Cistercian order.

Time your visit for a Saturday to experience the bustling food market, which takes over the streets surrounding the cathedral, with stalls selling local delicacies including mushrooms, truffles and foie gras.

If you are not in town on a Saturday, an indoor market is held daily in the converted former church of Sainte-Marie on Place de la Liberté. Here you’ll find everything from spicy saucisson to Saint-Nectaire cheese, said to have been a favourite of Louis XIV. Before you leave, take the new glass lift to the top of the old tower, where there are panoramic views of Sarlat and beyond.

Continue your visit on the winding Rue des Consuls, which boasts a number of impressive mansion houses dating as far back as the 14th century. For an insight into how the bourgeoisie lived in the 17th century, visit the furnished apartments in the Manoir de Gisson in the heart of the old town. This remarkable building also contains displays charting the history of crime and punishment from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution, and a cabinet of curiosities that will keep children entertained.

Be sure not to miss Place des Oies, home to exceptional architecture and a life-size bronze statue of three geese. It is here where live geese are still sold during the Fête de l’Oie, held every year in the first week of March.

The surrounding area is full of interest, too. The Plus Beaux Villages of Beynac-et-Cazenac and La Roque-Gageac are within a 20-minute drive, as are the hilltop gardens of Marqueyssac.

Alternatively, head north into the Vézère valley and visit Lascaux II, a replica of the nearby caves where dazzling prehistoric wall paintings were discovered in 1940.

For more information on what to see and details of hotels and restaurants, visit www.sarlat-tourisme.com

Book early and get the best fares. Visit www.eurotunnel.com or call 0870 850 8133 to book your crossing.

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