Sunday, April 5, 2015

Saturday, April 4, 2015 - Sarlat-le-Caneda

Sarlat la Caneda (don't pronounce the -t) is a well-preserved medieval city whose 14th  century town center is one of France's historic treasures and possible future nominee for a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town owes its current status to several happy circumstances. Decimated and depopulated by the 100 years war, they were rewarded for their loyalty to France by King Charles VII at the end of the war, enabling them to rebuild in a short period of time, thus creating a town with unified architecture. Then time passed Sarlat by and the town languished, ignored, which meant the medieval architecture was never modernized. Finally, in the 1960's, French Minister of Culture, Andre Malraux, took on the task of preserving France's heritage sites, among them Sarlat la Caneda. Thus was born the tourism industry of Sarlat which sustains the town's preserved

Sarlat is near our house, just a few miles northeast of us. Remember we start from Bezenac.

As usual, Sarlat, which is on our short list of places to visit, came to the top because there is a market on Saturdays and we need to get in food to cover us for the next few days since Sunday is Easter and the stores will be closed. You might be getting the idea that shopping is a passion for us, but in fact, while it is fun at the market, it's hard in the unfamiliar grocery stores. But the fact is, French refrigerators are small, food has no preservatives (at least the food we like to eat), and we will now be feeding 6 instead of just the 4 of us. 

So off we head to Sarlat, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Dordogne area, on a market Saturday just before Easter. Call us crazy.  Once more Sully got us directly to our parking lot right near the bottom of the market. We even found a space easily in a paid lot.  The weather is cool with a light rain so we donned our raincoats in preparation. 

We are doing a combined market and sightseeing tour of the old central city which is clogged with vendor stalls and people, including tourist groups. I can't imagine how crowded this place gets in the summer.  

First the market: Score for the day - we found Lucques olives at one of the stands. We were afraid we'd have to drive 4 hours to find them in the Languedoc region!  (If you want to know what we're talking about, Trader Joe's sells them. In France, they are unbrined olives and so tasty. The Trader Joe Lucques have to be pastuerized, but are almost as tasty.)

We bought 6 different dry sausages from this vendor for our aperos.

Vendors on multiple streets and crowds so thick in spots it was hard to get through.

Lynn, Janis, and Clark buying local cheeses.

Under the tent awnings were an enormous variety of  foods and local specialties.

vanilla beans

This area is known for its walnut production and products. Nutcracker, anyone?

We bought shrimp from Brazil from this seafood vendor who answered my stupid question "Are these really from Brazil?" with "Yes, madam, and these other shrimp are really from Madagascar. We tell no lies here." Duh!

Now the sightseeing part of our morning: 
St. Sacerdos Cathedral

St. Sacerdos Cathedral - back view

Yes, there are hills in this town, too, although built on the alluvial plain. 

This odd tower is called the Lantern of the Dead and its purpose is a mystery.  It's located behind the cathedral.

These stones are worn from hundreds of years of feet.
a cool Renaissance door
Renaissance house, now a restaurant, the Presidial.

Cool Renaissance window

A very cool sign for a restaurant

Statue in the middle of the place where the goose market used to be held. This was a pretty small square, even by medieval standards.

Getting out of the city confused GPS Sully as streets were closed off for the market and we had to go north to go south, but we managed to collaborate to get out of the city center and on to our next stop, the Casino (pronounced with the accent on the first syllable) grocery story to pick up meats and staples. 

Then home to lunch on our market purchases. 

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