Sunday, June 30, 2013

France Part 6: Sarlat

The Medieval town of Sarlat-la-Caneda was larger than most of the villages we had been visiting.  It had a lively shopping scene mixed in with beautiful architecture.  We strolled around here for a long time picking up souvenirs, checking out the landmarks, eating crepes, and people-watching.

Of course Sarlat has a nice old church from the Middle Ages.  Every town does.

Sarlat goes a step further, though, and has this cool tower built in the mid 1100's.  These kinds of towers are sometimes referred to as lanternes des morts which can mean lantern of the dead or lantern of the Moors.  It's a bit of a controversy as to which definition is most likely.  When I visit such old landmarks I am flooded with thoughts about their history and overwhelmed with interest in all the people throughout the centuries who have walked and worked and lived and died in these places.

Here's a shot looking back at the outside of the church.

And here I am with the famous geese statue.  It really is famous.  Really.  An icon of Sarlat.

We got a couple of special items in the shops of Sarlat.  One of my favorite souvenirs is a block of 6 steak knives by the maker Laguiole.  We used knives like these in a couple of restaurants and were pleased with the quality.  I was so glad to pick up a set to bring home.

What I really love about these knives (besides how easily they cut food) is the cute little bee symbol. 
They are instantly recognizable and it's just an unique thing to put on a knife.

Sarlat has a huge street market twice a week, and we caught the tail end of it as we arrived around noon.  People sell food and goods, much of it home grown and home made.  Almost every town in the area, even tiny Tremolat has at least a weekly outdoor market.  The Tremolat market consisted of about 2 booths in a small parking lot.  The Sarlat market spanned several streets and alleys filling the city.  A few cities even have evening markets with live music and tables set up for dining.  All of these markets, and most of the restaurants and attractions we visited are only available from about May-September.  Options are severely limited other times of year.

However, the third thing this region is known for (after walnuts and foie gras) is truffles, and prime truffle hunting season is November-January.  Visiting during truffle season would be tricky considering half the town is completely shut down, but it would be fascinating to witness that aspect of the Dordogne.

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