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Sarlat-la-Canéda impressions

A friend and I will be traveling in this part of France in October 2019, and would like to hear other travelers' impressions of Sarlat-la-Canéda. We would like to spend a few days here. Was it very touristy? What did you enjoy doing while you were here? Where did you stay / eat? All input appreciated!!


Posted by
7674 posts

It did not feel anymore touristy than the other places that you hear people rave about; it is not undiscovered, It is an attractive town architecturally in a beautiful area of France known as the Dordogne. It is a good base to explore other towns and castles along the Dordogne River (which flows all the way to the Atlantic) by car like La Roque Gageac, Beynac and Ceynac, and the many pre historic caves in the area. Duck is on most of the menus, foie gras for example.
It is real popular destination with the English; a guide book or the official tourist site of the region will give you some ideas about what you might enjoy doing there.

Posted by
3961 posts

I would echo Jazz' description of Sarlat la Canéda and the surrounding region. We spent 3 nights there during the RS Loire to the South of France Tour. We enjoyed this pedestrian-friendly town. We were there for the Saturday market. It's at the top of the list of favorite markets in Europe. I believe they also have a Wednesday market. As mentioned, it was a good base to visit Oradur-sur-Glane, Rouffignac Cave, and Dordogne Canoe trip from Beynec to Ceynac. We stayed at Hotel La Couleuvrine. We thought it was an excellent location. We were pleased with the accommodation. We found the RS France Guidebook a great resource of the region.

Posted by
6323 posts

This current thread includes some impressions of Sarlat. It's a popular Dordogne destination, a good base for some purposes, bigger than the surrounding towns, with very good markets twice a week. I've never stayed there but I have visited and liked it.

"Touristy" is in the eye of the beholder. Sarlat is a lot less "touristy" than, say, Disneyland, but a lot more "touristy" than some place we've never heard of because, well, it has nothing to attract tourists.

Posted by
26395 posts

I took a day-trip to Sarlat in early June on a miserably rainy day. There were quite a lot of tourists there even then (it was Wednesday, a market day), but it was easy to see that it is ordinarily much more heavily visited, because nearly all the (many) restaurant tables were empty. As I said, it was a dreadful day, weather-wise, and anyone with a car would have found a more indoor-oriented destination for the day. So I'd class Sarlat as very touristy during peak season. How much better it will be in October I do not know. However, Sarlat seems to be the most popular base in the area, so you should not expect an unspoiled town.

But it is lovely, and it's large enough to offer a lot of options for dinner. I would rather stay there than in one of the tinier places. However, I depend on public transportation (making Sarlat not ideal as a base for me) and do not like to be pinned down in a small town in the evening. I especially would not like it in the Dordogne because I do not eat the local favorites (foie gras and confit de canard) and need multiple restaurants to choose from. For other travelers, having lots of restaurants and good public-transportation links would not be so critical. Those wanting a less touristy environment might be happier in one of the smaller villages, assuming they are traveling by car.

Even on an extremely rainy day, there were lots of market stalls set up in Sarlat on Wednesday. I'd recommend that market if your schedule doesn't allow you to be in Sarlat on Saturday.

Posted by
12154 posts

I liked Sarlat. It's a really pretty place. I was there June 2018 (not market day) and the crowds weren't bad. I'd expect in October it won't be at all crowded. Depending on the time of the month, it may be chilly.

I personally don't like market days. I'm not that much into shopping, they are more like swap meets than anything else and it's the day with the most crowds. For me they're more of an annoyance than attraction. For you they may be a highlight.

Posted by
27 posts

I really appreciate everyone's input and helpful suggestions! There's one question that I forgot to include in my initial post. We won't have a car, so will be relying on public transportation to get to Sarlat from Toulouse, and also for any day trips we decide to make in the area. Is that going to be possible? Anyone else with experience traveling by bus / train in the region? (I do speak French, by the way, so language is not a problem.) Thanks again!

Posted by
26395 posts

There is one company running bus tours from Sarlat. I don't remember the name of it, but I think Google will find it for you. There was one tour going to multiple places (including Beynac). There was another--I think just a half-day--to Rocamadour. Those options aside, I would not consider Sarlat a suitable base for day-tripping if you don't have a car.

I suggest putting together a list of towns you want to see and posting it here. Our more experienced travelers to France can probably provide some guidance. I ended up staying in a bunch of different places in the area in order to have access to reasonably efficient bus service to my targets. It wouldn't have been practical to reach them from any single origin. And even so, St-Cirq-Lapopie and (especially) Rocamadour required substantial walking from the nearest bus stop.

The Dordogne is lovely, but seeing it without a car will require some significant compromises.

Posted by
1189 posts

Hi from Wisconsin,
Sarlat is a real cutesy town, and it knows it. Much like a spoiled child. Most of the real residents have been driven out of the town, so it felt more like a really good Disney recreation. With Shops to buy trinkets.
There are many other towns to visit in the area. The region is quite beautiful. Not so far away is the river Lot, a small river sprinkled with cute stone villages. And even a more remote river that has neat little villages is the Cele River. The Dorgone river has the wide road and the tourist busses. The Lot and even more so the Cele is more a private tour.

Wayne iNWI

Posted by
7674 posts

We won't have a car, so will be relying on public transportation to get to Sarlat from Toulouse, and also for any day trips we decide to make in the area. Is that going to be possible?

Yes this is possible. The Tourist Information Center in Sarlat has day tours covering the area
There are regional buses also.

We took one to Lascaux and back. It depends on where you want to go
The area around La Roque Gageac there is no public transportation so you would need a tour.
Or do what we did we had our hotel hire us a taxi for 50 euros roundtrip. And you just agree on a time to be picked back up where you were dropped off.

You just have to really research it