Market Guide: Dordogne – Sarlat-la-Canéda

As one of France’s 100 Most Beautiful Villages, Sarlat is picture-postcard perfection personified.

The region is one of the best you’ll find in France gastronomically, architecturally and culturally. It’s full of foie gras, chock-a-block with chocolate, bursting with wild boar and topped up with truffles. And when it comes to running a market, the result seems to be as effortlessly splendid as a gregarious household throwing a party.

With its unusual setting at the bottom of a valley, it’s no surprise that this gem of a town was fought over for centuries between the English and the French. The intra-muros population of 10,000 or so peaks to about 120,000 in the summer and many of those peak days will fall on a Saturday, when a massive market takes over virtually every single street in the town.

Even if you come along on a Wednesday, however, you’ll not be disappointed by a food-dominated market that is simply enormous by any normal standards. The quality and range of food on offer is truly outstanding. The converted church of Place Boissarie (just off the Place de la Liberté) is the central covered market of the town and it’s worth taking time off browsing the stalls to take a lift that brings you up and slightly beyond the former bell-tower (Willy Wonka style) for great views of the whole town.

Taking place every Saturday all year long since mediaeval times Sarlat food market is open for business from 08:30 to 13:00 on Place de la Liberté (officially, but radiating out all over the place in summer). Stalls for all other produce are there on Saturdays from 08:30 to 18:00. On Wednesday, the food market is also running from 08:30 to 13:00, while the covered market at the former Eglise Sainte Marie runs every day except Thursday from 08:30 to 13:00, with an extension to 14:00 during high season and the altered opening hours on Friday from 09:30 to 20:00.

Short Video of Sarlat Wednesday Morning Market in July 2013
(With music from Georges Brassens)

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