Have you ever visited the city of Sarlat-la-Caneda? A city, settled in Dordogne, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, literally reborn from its arches… Known as the capital of the so-called Perigord Noir, this territory of gastronomy is notably renowned for its lifestyle and the quality of its local products, since Sarlat-la-Caneda is a true paradise for the discovery several gastronomic specialities.
Among them, we could for sure count on black truffles, porcini mushrooms, such as chanterelles and morels, foie gras, confits, pâtés, chestnuts, strawberries, fine country charcuterie, walnuts… A territory made to stimulate all kind of senses, unless you take the time to explore them! By AP
Therefore, Sarlat-la-Caneda is unquestionably one of the most authentic towns in France. Preserved in a protected area, this charming city is even listed in the Record Book for hosting the highest density of listedbuildings, in its territory. Indeed, by the time you cross its more or less cobbled streets, you would collide such a rich selection of 66 listed monuments, just within an 11-hectare perimeter (photo credits: AP).
This was made possible thanks to the respected Malraux law that Sarlat-la-Caneda was the first French city to apply, after its approbation in 1962. A revolution for the rehabilitation of historical centers, just after the huge damages from the WWII.
Such a logical decision for this millennial city, which developed around an important Benedictine abbey, allowing the emergence of a cast of consuls, nobles and merchants, became that of the jurists and clerics who surrounded the random bishops.
Furthermore, following your future strolls through its winding streets, its vaulted passages, its cathedral, its 15th and 16th century mansions, you would be surely seduced by the magic of this medieval ensemble. The least we can say is that the visiting options are very wide… From the glass elevator, with a capacity of 8 persons, imagined by the illustrious Sarlat native architect Jean Nouvel, who wished to offer to visitors a new point of view of his beloved city, from a height of 33mn, and its countryside landscapes.
This dizzy project was initiated as part of the enhancement of the gothic styled Sainte-Marie church, which was then converted into a covered market and a cultural space inside this religious edifice. Therefore, you couldn’t miss its two gigantic, formerly glazed, entrance gates of 15 meters high, which are now made of metal, weighing more than 2 tons.
For your information, a fire in the 18th century caused the opening of the site which contains the deconsecrated church, whose two doors by Jean Nouvel complete the artwork, each weighing 3.5 tons. Not far from a Gérard Auliac sculpture, representing Le Badaud, and nearby a 12th century Roman fountain, based on an underground stream.
On top of that, Sarlat-la-Caneda is also listed as a city of Arts and History, as part of an European reference network contributing to its worldwide reputation. That’s why is also held every November, the worldwide acclaimed Sarlat Film Festival. Thus, this cinemafestival welcomes many comedians and movie stars, along new talents. Another festival stands in summer with the Festival des Jeux du Théâtre de Sarlat, as the leading theater festival in Aquitaine and even one of the most renowned in France.
But it’s a good occasion to celebrate quality truffles in Sarlat-la-Caneda, where their reputation has been established for several centuries.
Here, you could enjoy a gastronomic heritage of Sarlat-la-Caneda which highlights local producers to sell their truffle products, from December to February, without missing the Truffle Festival and the culinary Jean Rougié Trophy, standing in January, and honoring the truffle from the Périgord Noir and of course foie gras.
Thereafter, in March, let’s celebrate the Sarlat Fest’Oie allowing many visitors to discover local gooses from Perigord, but in Easter weekends, children are as well invited to look for eggs in the streets of Sarlat-la-Caneda and may be rewarded with some typical chocolate artisans from Sarlat-la-Caneda. We pursue our planning in May with the Local Days which aim to honor most of the products from Sarlat-la-Caneda.
Last but not least, don’t miss in September, the celebration around potatoes and pastoral lamb from Sarlat-la-Caneda, which are to be tasted directly at the heart of a gourmet market. Apart from this, the legendary black truffle from Perigord offers a real flavor from the region. Who haven’t employed this mysterious and olfactory mushroom in its kitchen? Therefore, a few slices of Tuber Melanosporum (its scientific name) and its characteristic and powerful fragrance delicately invades the dishes it accompanies.
In Sarlat-la-Caneda, this jewel is so much worshiped that it is celebrated every year in January, in high season of harvest, because this so-called black diamond is mostly mature from December to February.
By the way, you have to know that even if this black truffle from Perigord is the most famous of all the specimen, we can also frequently find in Perigord Noir, as blue truffles (also known as Tuber Brumale), another winter truffles, and also summer truffles (also known as Tuber Aestivum) which can be tasted fresh and raw.
For your general knowledge, you have to know that caveurs indicate the presence of truffles thanks to the absence of vegetation around the truffle trees, also called brûlis. Those experts are often lead to dig the ground in places where truffles arise, by laying its eggs above… Most of the time, those trufflepickers are accompanied by a dog who is trained to detect the scent from truffles, buried 5 to 30 cm below the surface.
If you want to acquire one piece of this blackmiracles from nature, we invite you to navigate through the Sarlat-la-Caneda market, on Saturday mornings from December to February, located near the City Hall. For your information, you may be guaranteed to buy there homologated truffles, since this Sarlat-la-Caneda market is controlled and supervised so that even debutants can be sure to get quality products at the right price.
If you are a professional, your day would be Wednesdays from 2.30pm, where you could benefit from the first wholesale truffle market in Aquitaine and the only one referenced in the region by the Société Nationale des Marchés.
Dedicated to all truffleaficionados, the Truffle Festival is an annual rendez-vous where countless animations are organized all around the center of Sarlat-la-Caneda, naturally with the support of truffle pickers. During this Festival, often happening on 2 days, it would be a good occasion to participate into various conferences around truffle topic, bug also identification workshops, along digging demonstrations.
In the meantime, why don’t you also get introduced to oenology with the regional wines from Bergerac and Duras appellation? When it comes to fine food such as truffles and foie gras, it’s unmissable to learn more about the potential wine tasting and wine pairings basics.
Cherry on the cake, apart from having the privilege to discover endless ways of appreciating truffle in the dedicated menus of the local restaurants. It would be also interesting to taste the local speciality of croustous, available everyday on Place de la Liberté, from 11:30am and served during 4 hours approximately. Based on a traditional recipe and luckily prepared by the chefs coming from the surrounding Perigord Noir, about 25,000 of those Perigordtapas composed of truffles and foie gras, are appreciated each year.
For more information, about Sarlat‘s news and festivities, we highly invite you to have a regular look at the sarlatadugout.fr, which is the main online platform for the promotion of gastronomic events, organized throughout the year in the region.
This website has been designed for Sarladais and more globally its international visitors, around 5 flagship events highlighting the richness of so wide local gastronomy, which are the Truffle Festival, the Fest’Oie, the Easter Egg Hunt, Regional Days, plus the Taste and Food Days. Moreover, another section highlights the Sarlat markets throughout truffle markets, such as the covered market inside and outside the Sainte-Marie Church, standing on Wednesdays and Saturdays for food markets.
For the 13th edition of the PrixJean Rougié, the eight culinary students and performers for a day, either coming from France and Spain, had to take up a dual gastronomic challenge.
Therefore, they had to cook a cold recipe and a hot recipe with foie gras and truffles as set figures. Under the gaze of a prestigious jury, made up of great chefs of Frenchgastronomy, and chaired by Christophe Bacquié, which is renowned as a 3-starred chef in the Michelin Guide at the Hotel & Spa restaurant in Le Castellet, as well as being a Meilleur Ouvrier de France apart from being a 5 Toques from the Gault & Millau guide.
Starting with competitions initiated in the early morning in the Centre Culturel of Sarlat-la-Canéda, the 8 competitors had to lead their cooking project, separated in different equipped boxes. Under the supervision of Jean-Luc Danjou, a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, who directs this competition animated by a duet between a student and his teacher.
As far as we know, the young chef Yassine Tahri (from the École Ferrandi of Bordeaux) won this 13th Jean Rougié trophy in Sarlat, organized by different entities embodied by the City of Sarlat, the Maison Rougié and truffle houses by Pebeyre. Accompanied by his teacher Damien Thurin, their gustatory complicity was highlighted until the highest steps from the podium.
At the second place, Louis Abba went honored with his teacher Juliette Marchand, both from the hospitality school in La Rochelle. At the third place, we could count on Matéo Lucquet and his teacher Rémi Bauchet, from another hospitality school based in Le Touquet. Otherwise, we couldn’t miss the alternative special prizes, registered as the Prize for the Best Cold Dish, who is Titouan Dorval and his teacher Jean-Benoît Pelletier, from the Lycée hôtelier de l’Orléanais in Olivet.
Adding to this, the Prize for the Best Hot Dish has been attributed to Ethan Fragnaud and his teacher Matthieu Bardy, both coming from CCI Charente Formation in Ecully. At last, the favorite Prize of the Kitchen jury going to Nicolas Kuppers Johansson and his teacher Julen Urtasun Marinelarena, straight from the Hofmann School in Barcelona.
In case you wish to stay overnight in Sarlat-la-Caneda, we can recommend you the lovely Grand Hotel de Sarlat. For instance, this charming hotel, located in the city center, would offer you a comfortable accommodation, proposed in two styles of pavilions.
First of all, the Pavillon Selves, proposing a set of renovated rooms (from 2020), all settled in a warm atmosphere and a contemporary decoration. Benefiting from a direct access to the covered swimming pool, you may also enjoy the spa and wellness area (open every day from 7am until 11pm), including a jacuzzi, sauna, along a selection of beauty treatments and massages.
In another hand, you could undoubtedly be tempted by the Clos la Böétie, nested in a sumptuous 19th century residence, displaying a certain romantic atmosphere in its 11 luxurious rooms. A good occasion to live a piece from the lavish lifestyle of Sarlat-la-Caneda.
Icing on the cake, don’t forget that all around these two fancy pavilions, you could benefit from the large and delightful park, enriched with vast terraces and a well furnished bar counter, in order to guarantee you a quiet environment and a memorable journey in Perigord.
Au Grand Hôtel de Sarlat, 93 Avenue de Selves, 24200 Sarlat-la-Canéda (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)5 53 31 50 00. More information on their official website.
If you wanna go further into the Sarlat surroundings, we invite you to visit the numerous truffle exploitations, where this rare black diamond can be extracted. For instance, the Domaine de Vielcroze is a must-see domain, to visit through a two-hour guided tour. A good way to unlock the fascinating history of truffles, where you would learn about the interaction of this fungus with its precious hosting oak tree.
A real pedagogical experience where the farmers would tell you more, and with passion, about the growth and micorization of those unpredictable truffle trees… Apart from this, you could attend a life-size demonstration of cavage (as truffle hunting) with Noxo, their charming Australian Shepherd dog. At the end of the visit, you would get offered a tasting of those unmistakable Croustous, before another truffle adoption.
You would notably learn that the domain forbids itself to collect truffles until the end of January and this period is even increasingly delayed with global warming. Although, most of truffle growers own an Italian dog, called Lagotto, who is very adept at spotting and digging up truffles.
In the Dordogne, the usual productions are around 4 to 6 hectares, versus several hundred hectares in Spain. A difference is as well made with these Iberian and Eastern European products, which are imported sometimes with aromatic supplements.
A visit of this truffle domain, only by reservation:
• In July and August: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3.30pm – Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am.
• In April, May, June, September, October and school holidays: Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30 pm.
Domaine de Vielcroze, 24250 Castelnaud-la-Chapelle (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)5 53 59 69 63. More information on their official website.
Not far from there, the visit of the Château de Beynac, sitting in the eponym village, is nearly mandatory to get inside. Beneath its high volumes, you couldn’t believe your eyes to admire those pretty crenellated towers, from where a breathtaking panorama can be admired, above the whole valley, starring many other castles.
Indeed, this panoramic valley counts no less than 5 visible castles, from the top of the dungeon‘s rooftop, embracing this incredible plunging view. It’s not a mystery that those 5 sites are strategically positioned around the Dordogne river.
This river has ever been holding an historical importance as a multi-purposing route, mainly formerly boosted with these fishingrights, mostly levied about the transfer of wood dedicated to maritime construction in Bordeaux.
Nonetheless, directly built on the rock, at an average altitude of 150 meters, the Château de Beynac has ever included several means of defence, including several enclosures, a drawbridge, along numerous portcullises… Initially, there was only the square donjon, dating back from 1115, adorned with typical medieval reliefs, facing the actual reception hall, called la Holà as well as a lower courtyard.
More recently, after the acquisition of the castle in 1961 by Lucien Grosso, after being a property of the Beaumont family since the 18th century, this monument underwent many transformations. Indeed, during five decades, the Grosso spouses paid many efforts to restore their edifice, so as to regain as much as possible, the original defensive aspect of the site. Nowadays, those restoration efforts continue to allow an unforgettable journey into the core of the Middle Ages spirit.
Throughout your tour, you would easily contemplate, from the south-east facades, the several renovating campaigns which were carried out between 1944 until today. Those were namely concentrated around cleaning and consolidation of the surrounding walls, but also recovery of its roofs and openings.
In 2017, the vaulted ceiling of the Salle des États(State Room), dating back to the 14th century, including the impermeability of the room, was restored. Among them, the ceiling was cleaned and strengthened, starring the filling of cracks and splits.
The Statesof Périgord room is the centerpiece of the castle attached to the original keep. Here more than elsewhere, the architecture wants to underline the power of the lords of Beynac. Thus, the Salle des États takes its name from the meetings held there by the four barons of Perigord in the 15th century, namely those of Beynac, Biron, Bourdeilles and Mareuil. This room brought together the different regional lords, either for governance and for banquets, since each naturally claims the title of first Baron of Perigord.
Château de Beynac, Route du château, 24220 Beynac-et-Cazenac (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)5 53 29 50 40. More information on their official website.