Wish you were here!
We headed to the city of Sarlat la Canéda because it has a bit of a legendary status in France since it was chosen as the first city to renovate when the Malraux Law was created. Prior to 1964, when the law went into effect, most of France’s historic stone buildings had become black and grimy from years of age and accumulation of pollution from factories and car exhaust, making them rather dreary. We can thank the minister of culture in the 60s for recognizing the cultural importance and tourism potential and initiating this law which was essentially a national “preservation” campaign for the architectural patrimony. In order to convince the government to support his campaign the Minister of Culture chose Sarlat la Canéda as a test site. It was such a success that now most of France’s historic cities and villages have been restored to their former glory.
Would this city live up to our high expectations created by this fact? I, for one, anticipated a very charming place. Francis was counting on something very historic.
As we drove up to the historic city center we were not disappointed… we were enchanted. And, the seduction continued as we walked through the winding labyrinth of narrow alleyways and back streets, the vivacious commerce area…
Sarlat has one of the world’s largest concentrations of medieval buildings and one of France’s largest concentrations of historic and “classified” monuments. But, what is really magical is the experience of wandering through such a large area of architectural homogeneity –don’t get me wrong, the city grew up gradually throughout the long medieval period and there are even renaissance structures… still it feels more unified than other places where you’ve got a medieval wood-frame structure squeezed between an 18th century building and something even more contemporary like an art-nouveau structure. Strolling in Sarlat was magical!
We tasted the region’s “nut wine”, we shopped for fois gras, we browsed the truffle products… unfortunately we were a little too early for fig season (I really love figs). There are so many of Frances most luxurious food specialties here!!!
We agreed that Sarlat la Canéda would be a great stop for our guests. We’d like to set up a special lunch featuring the local products and then give our guests time to meander at their own pace -exploring the city, wandering down streets, doing a bit of shopping or wine tasting, etc.
I’m beginning to worry that we’ll find too many places that are fantastic for this tour and we won’t have space of them all!
-Lisa Gustavson (Sojourner Tours Owner)