Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sarlat-La-Canéda - a mind-blowing town in South West of France

I left Blois early in the morning after having a breakfast in hotel. Talking about the breakfast in France, to save time, I often grabbed some of my favourite sandwich-baguette with either an Evian or a mini-bottle of fruit juice at the train station, it cost me around 5 or 6 Euro. Later I realised if I pay 2 or 3 Euro extra I could have a whole breakfast buffet in the hotel with a lot of choices (in France most hotels didn't include the breakfast in their rate).

                   Place du Peyrou - Centre of Sarlat at night.

           Most popular sandwich-baguette with different fillings, perfect bread but the filling- depends!  

From Blois to Sarlat La Canéda was a long way, it took me more than 6 hours due to the 2-hour transit at St-Pierre-des-Corps. As I said earlier there is no taxi at many train stations, just a taxi phone number, and if we need, call them! The agent with whom I booked the hotel, has managed a taxi waiting for me, so I reached my "special place" just in 10'.

Why I called my hotel room a "special place" as it was located on the 4th floor, under the roof, like a penthouse, no elevator, of course, in the building that survived more than 5 centuries. And for the first time in my life, to rent this place, though for only 2 nights, I had to sign a contract to make sure nothing will be damaged during my stay!

                    The entrance to my "penthouse" on 4th floor, right under the roof! 

                     My unique penthouse - right under the roof with those small roof windows...

               and here the full-equiped kitchen but I just boiled the water for some hot drink. 

Sarlat-La-Canéda (or simply Sarlat) is an amazing old medieval town in south-west of France. When I first saw it on the internet, I thought "yeah, looks nice! Let's go!" but when I arrived and witnessed the beauty of this town, right in front of me, I was very impressed. I'd love to name it "The Golden Pearl" due to the unique colour of the old sandstone houses in this town.

                     The main door of the old house below...

The town was first born probably in 8th century and prosperous for several centuries, witnessed a lot of severe historic changes, suffering even from the war times in 14th century, but many amazing monuments dated back to 13th centuries still standing and awaiting for our visit, especially those numerous town houses, chapels...

                      It was one of my favourite houses in Sarlat...

                 The grey balcony in the photo was right behind the last row of the small open-door theatre.

                 If you notice the colour of the roofs, it changed from grey in North to red in South...  

               The unique building"Lantern of the Death" from 14th century served as a funeral chapel. 

                      from my place to the center - only 5' walk along this street 
              but if follow another side - I found the restaurant with a nice garden behind the closed gates.

                    and here like the downtown of Sarlat - Place de Peyrou 

                      with a lot of shops, restaurants and street performers

               Crossing Place du Peyrou, the cathedral on the left and the hotel de LaBoetie on the right.

              The hotel surely was named after Étienne Laboetie, who was born in this house in 1550.  

I kept wandering for hours in this old town, carrying my camera bag, if in normal day I might not feel it heavy, but after hours and hours on my legs, the bag, the camera and lenses really challenged my endurance. I tried not to give up, after 15' break, I continued my walk along these small winding cobbled alleys that seemed endless. You never get lost in the maze of this medieval town. Sarlat is a small town, wherever you go, sooner or later you'll find the light and your old path.

              Just follow these cobbled streets, it always leads you to another discovery...

                I was here during weekend, many shops were closed  with emptied streets.

            the restaurant with a notice - wine is served only during lunch (!?) also closed. 

            Always found some cozy dining places in some corner of these winding alleys, here or...

                 or here, opposite some "mechanic" showroom

                     or here in some courtyard 

                       and here - another terrace with dining tables in small corner. 

Talking about gastronomy in Sarlat, I should share with you the specialities from this land : the foie gras and the truffle. Many shops selling the foie gras with big discount. I would love to buy some but Sarlat was only one of first destinations in my journey around France, I really didn't want to carry those things along the trip, especially when I traveled by train.

                     One of the shop dislay - the famous foie gras - liver from fattened geese or duck.

                    These geese were so famous even to have their own statue in Place du Marché des Oies.

                     You notice a black man sitting at the other end? 

                 Here - it's HIM, a statue of the unknown-man-to-me, but love the way it's displayed. 

                   all small alleys here like the parts of a big maze, turn right, turn left...

                             another street appeared in front of me, I kept going...

              and here another alley, the first door on the right was the entrance to my "penthouse"

                      more people were coming out for dinner or drink at night 

                      the quiet old town seemed to be revived with the music from street artists...

                          or another artist with his smart dog...

The night lights, the noises from the crowds could make the town more lively but many corners of the old Sarlat still reserved the right to keep its silence as they already did over hundreds years. There was not much things to entertain in this medieval place at night, so to have a good diner, a good drink, and to immerse yourself in the relaxing atmosphere surrounding you would be the best.

In France we might find the old towns everywhere but this one, Sarlat-la-Canéda, definitely unusual. I got the feelings that I stepped into a fairy tale's world when I just arrived. I kept wondering how people were able to maintain those sandstones houses, lovely corners, quiet alleys. I saw how people wandering around the town, admiring the beauty of the survived buildings, listening their stories...
I still have one more night in Sarlat, tomorrow morning I'll visit one of the most beautiful villages in France - La Roque Gageac.  

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