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Janine Marsh visits the pickled in the past town of Sarlat in the Dordogne, the perfect weekend destination. Photo: Patricia Bruce
in Sarlat You just can’t help but fall in love when you visit the ancient town of Sarlat. The medieval buildings, fabulous market and gourmet food shops are so enticing. The cobbled streets lure you on to discover winding alleyways, steep stairways and their treasures. It's a town where restaurants serve the most delicious of local dishes with pride and flair. You can easily spend a weekend or much longer here enjoying the ambiance, the food and the sights. And you’ll always yearn to return… Time warp town Visiting Sarlat is like stepping into the past. You’ll discover a friendly town that’s full of surprises and intoxicatingly pretty. It has the look of a gorgeous film set but this is a living, working town that just happens to be incredibly ancient and quite extraordinarily pretty. Of course all this is bound to have mass appeal and Sarlat gets very busy in the summer months. Go outside of July and August though and it’s much quieter and life goes on pretty much as it has done for centuries here in the heart of Dordogne. It’s a town that has a long and colourful history. For ten years from 1360 it was an English garrison town and even before that it was well known thanks to a monk who became Bishop of Sarlat and was made a Saint after it was said he could cure lepers and raised his father from the dead. St Sarcedos died in AD250 and the Cathedral in Sarlat is dedicated to him. He’s not the only one to have performed miracles here. In 1147 Saint Bernard passed through Sarlat and cured the sick with loaves he’d blessed. The event is commemorated by the 12th century tower of Saint-Bernard, known as the Lanterne des Morts (lantern of the dead). You’ll see this dark and peculiar building behind the cathedral. Much of the architecture is from the 15th to the 17th century and the Renaissance influence is strong. That it is so unchanged is due to the fact that for some time, the town was cut off.