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Sarlat in the Dordogne: 11 Best Things to do

One of France’s most picturesque cities, Sarlat is encircled by the lush Dordogne Valley, which features sandstone cliffs, woodlands, and a flowing river. Discover the Dordogne River by kayak or boat, along with picturesque chateaus and medieval villages. In addition, Sarlat is a gourmet mecca known for its wine, walnuts, and truffles. Savor all the best activities available in Sarlat la Caneda, France!

1. Discover Sarlat la Caneda

Located in the center of the Dordogne Valley, the stunning town of Sarlat is a must-see here! It is well-known for its gorgeous stone medieval structures, which give the impression that they are from a motion picture. It boasts more historic buildings per square foot than any other place in France.

Explore the town and make stops at the lively markets to sample the specialties of Sarlat, like truffles, walnuts, and Bergerac wine. Known for its twice-weekly Wednesday and Saturday market, Sarlat attracts food producers who come to offer their delectable creations. On Saturdays, additional treasures and curiosities are also on sale. It makes sense that Sarlat is regarded as a culinary center!

Tip: Don’t forget to explore the medieval Sainte Marie Church and its secret glass elevator. This will lead you to the summit of the bell tower, where you can see sweeping views of the town and the surrounding landscape.

Sarlat by Night – Evening Gaslit Streets

Sarlat is amazing during the day but much more impressive at night! The old gaslit lamps fill the streets with a cozy glow that gives the impression that you have traveled back in time. When visiting the Dordogne region of France, nothing compares to dining al fresco on one of the many café patios surrounded by romantic lighting.

2. Marqueyssac Gardens 

The most beautiful garden in the neighborhood is the Italian-inspired Marqueyssac. With winding paths around the stunning Chateau and whirling box hedges, everything is exquisitely planned. The best part is that the gardens offer some of the most breathtaking views across the Dordogne Valley since they are perched atop a high rocky spur.

In high season (spring, summer, and fall), admission is 10.90 EUR. 9.90 EUR during the winter.

3. Canoe or Kayak on the Dordogne River

The best way to view the region and the unique wildlife that makes it so remarkable is to go canoeing on the Dordogne River. The enormous river meanders across the Dordogne valley, passing by coastal medieval settlements and limestone cliffs. Since summer brings relatively low water levels, it’s easy to get out of the kayak and explore the area upstream.

Ours was hired through Canoës Butterfly. They recommend 4 to 25 kilometer courses that take 1 to 5 hours to complete down the river.

4. Eco Quad, Sarlat la Caneda

Using an eco-quad to explore the verdant Dordogne Valley is undoubtedly one of Sarlat, France’s most unusual experiences! The eco quads are powered solely by electricity and feature four wheels. Operating a quad differs significantly from a standard quad because it can only travel at 25 km/h and maintain its horizontal position on any surface. In this manner, you can explore the Dordogne Valley’s most breathtaking off-road locations.

The best part is that it is quiet and serene and doesn’t hurt the environment. Whether it’s sand or snow, the quad can handle any terrain!

5. Visit Chateau des Milandes and its Gardens

The French noble Caumont family lived in the stunning Renaissance fortress, Chateau des Milandes, constructed in 1489. Nevertheless, it gained international recognition once Josephine Baker—a legendary figure from the Roaring Twenties—purchased it.

The stunning grounds, dotted with tulips and old oak trees, are now accessible to the public, as is the castle. There is a bird show as well, but animal acts intended for the enjoyment of tourists should be avoided. Go here to find out more about eco-friendly travel.

Summer opening hours are from 9 AM to 8 PM. Other seasons have different opening times.
Entrance charge: €12.50. This includes an audio guide and allows you entrance to the castle and gardens.

6. The Beautiful Village of Beynac, Dordogne

It should come as no surprise that Beynac, one of France’s most picturesque villages, is the backdrop for numerous well-known movies, including Chocolat! Situated southwest of Sarlat, the stunning yellow stone settlement and its magnificent castle extends uphill from the riverbanks to the clifftops.

Chateau de Beynac

The magnificent Beynac Castle towers over the community from its perch on a rock. Beautiful frescoes, historic kitchens, and even a dungeon with stunning views over the roofs can be found inside the Chateau. However, the breathtaking views of the river 200 meters below and the Dordogne Valley from the castle gardens are the best part of all.

9.50 EUR entry charge
Hours of operation: 10 AM to 7 PM, seven days a week.

Note: the hike to the castle is 20 minutes uphill from the village. Alternatively, you can park the car about a minute away at the top of the hill.

7. Electric Bike on the Green Lane

By renting electric bikes, you can discover 50 km of bike trails on formerly train tracks. Encircled by ancient trees, you can ride a bicycle through the soft light and enjoy the breathtaking French countryside! Since it’s a bike path, there isn’t much traffic, and you can take breaks to picnic or swim.

8. Water Gardens

Visit the Water Gardens while cycling; it’s a stunning aquatic park with lotus and water lily blossoms worldwide. Enjoy the 500 meters of paths along the banks of the Dordogne River as you stroll through the gardens and pass Japanese bridges.

How to get there: It takes less than 20 minutes to drive from Sarlat to the park if you’re not a fan of bicycling.
Admission: €8.50
It should be noted that the gardens are only open from 10 AM to 7 PM (11 AM to 6 PM) in the summer, from May to September.

9. Tropical Plant Village: La Roque Gageac

With its tropical vegetation covering the entire village, La Roque Gageac must rank among France’s most picturesque and distinctive places! You can easily visit it through the Dordogne Valley because it’s only 12 kilometers from Sarlat. This is where you’ll find stone cottages with roofing covered in brown tiles nestled between the Dordogne River and a massive cliff wall. This is the ideal site in ancient history because time has stayed still.

Tropical Gardens

Situated on the outskirts of the town, the magnificent church from the 14th century is among the oldest structures. This church is unique because lush tropical gardens with palm trees, cacti, bananas, and bamboo encircle it! The gardens thrive because of La Roque Gageac’s microclimate, aided by the cliffs shielding the plants from inclement weather.

Tip: Locate the stairway carved out of the cliff wall. Ascending the hill will reveal an old fort with breathtaking views of the Dordogne Valley!

10. Try Truffle and Walnuts

Sarlat is well-known for its walnuts and truffles! It is especially famous for the elusive “Perigord’s Black Diamond truffle,” which chefs with five stars worldwide adore. Visit Sarlat’s renowned truffle market to sample and purchase truffles.

The walnut museum is a great place to learn about the entire process, from harvesting to pressing.

11. Visit the Dordogne River by Boat

Not a big kayaker? Take a ride on a classic boat and enjoy the riverside views of the Dordogne Valley’s magnificence! The 6.5 km stretch of “the valley of the castles” is covered in 50 minutes. You will pass Castle Beynac, Castlenaud, Fayrac, and Marqueyssac along the way. It’s a beautiful way to take in the scenery, and audio guides are available. The trips are priced at 10.90 EUR per person and run from April 3 to October 31.

Sarlat is 20 minutes away by car from La Roque Gageac, where the boat excursion begins. You can take the number 14 bus from Sarlat if you don’t have a car. This costs 2 EUR and takes 55 minutes.

Getting to Sarlat, France

Because Sarlat is off the usual path, which makes it so unique, public transportation can be considerably slower there.

By train: With a stopover in Bordeaux, the trip to Sarlat from Paris typically takes five hours. (Here are some train alternatives.)

By air: Numerous domestic and international flights into Bordeaux, the municipal airport. You may travel to Sarlat in 2.5 hours by train from here.

Getting Around Sarlat

Once in Sarlat, exploring the town on foot is quite simple. Having a car will allow you the most freedom when visiting other locations in the Dordogne Valley. On the other hand, some of the well-known towns are connected by public transportation.

Where to Stay

There are many lovely lodging options in the Dordogne Valley. Sarlat boasts a terrific mix of luxury boutique hotels and mid-range guesthouses, making it an ideal base to explore all the other things in the vicinity.

There are many campsites along the river in the Dordogne Valley, which is a terrific place to camp if you’re prepared for an adventure. In the heart of Sarlat, we stayed at Le Lys Dort.

Where to Eat

Sarlat has a great variety of cafes and restaurants to enjoy lunch or dinner. If you are vegetarian, there are some good options listed below too.

  • Le Bouchon (vegetarian options)
  • La Couleuvrine (French, vegetarian options)
  • La Romane (Italian)

Costs of Traveling in Sarlat

Take a low-cost weekly trip to Sarlat for $440 − USD 830, a mid-range trip for $900 − USD 1670, or a high-end trip for $1590 − USD 2230. On the other hand, expenses vary depending on activities, lodging, and transportation. Flights were not included.

Best time to visit Sarlat

The late spring, early summer, or early fall are the ideal seasons to visit Sarlat and the Dordogne Valley. With all summer and springtime, flowers, biking, walking, and taking in the scenery are highly recommended due to the lovely temperate weather. In the summer, the Dordogne River is warm enough for wild swimming!

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