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Better known simply as Sarlat, Sarlat la Caneda—a medieval town and the capital of the former Périgord Noir region in the Dordogne department of southwestern France—is situated in a sublime place of ancient towns and lazy rivers. Noted for foie gras and its cathedral, the town itself is thoroughly attractive and easy on the eye, while nearby are cliff-hugging villages and big caves, ornate chateaux and castles, and the lush vineyards of Bordeaux.
Who to Book With
Many visitors fly to Bordeaux and drive to Sarlat la Caneda. There is a closer alternative, however, Bergerac Airport, which is just over an hour away by road. Car hire companies represented here include Avis, Europcar and Hertz, along with Enterprise and Buggs. Rather than go through these agencies separately, it’s best to save time and use a comparator website to get the best value for your money.
Best Time to Go
Sarlat la Caneda has a good climate, with warm to hot summers and mild weather the rest of the year. It rains hardest in late spring and autumn, though rainy days are fairly uniform throughout the year. Most visitors come in July and August, but the roads are best driven in the spring when booking rates and tourist numbers are lower.
Need to Know Essentials
The following documents are needed when collecting car rental:
- A United Kingdom driver’s licence
- A passport or other identification with photograph
- The confirmed reservation printed out
- The credit card that was used for the booking
For more info, read our FAQs.
France has some of the best maintained roads in the world and the Dordogne department in particular is a pleasure to explore by car. There are many winding country roads in this region, so special attention is needed and speed should be moderate. Even the drive from Bergerac Airport is pleasant, going by way of small towns and villages, and crossing rivers and streams. Parking within Sarlat can be a hassle.
Our Guide to France contains more detailed driving information.
Sarlat la Caneda is not very big and is therefore doable on foot. Trains come in from nearby towns and buses mostly serve residential areas, while taxis are on hand for those who want to see all city attractions and save their feet. Buses run to all areas but you can’t beat the freedom of exploring the vineyards and ancient villages that a car brings.
SNCF trains terminate at Sarlat train station from Bordeaux in the west, while those coming in from the capital will have to rake a bus from Souillac. Pick-ups can be organised here, but better rates are available when picking up a hire car at one of the airports. Sarlat train station is a few hundred metres from the centre of Sarlat.
Though a small town, Sarlat la Caneda has its own local bus network, the Sarlat Bus. It runs from north to south, and vice versa, taking in the train station and the centre of the town along Rue de la République. Trans-Périgord connects the town with several other towns in the Dordogne region.
There is no real need to take a taxi, unless perhaps it’s raining or you want to cover all the sights quickly. Taxi companies operating in the area of Sarlat la Caneda include Taxi Cy and Taxi Faugére. Local taxi drivers are typically well attired and polite, and usually able to speak English and offer information on the area.
There is so much to see in this region of southwest France by car that you will need to plan ahead. It’s easy to head off in any direction and be wowed, but stick to a few towns and perhaps head for the Bordeaux area to the popular wineries. The coast is a little bit further, while even Toulouse is within reach.
Périgueux – The drive to Périgueux in itself is very nice and, like Sarlat, the majority of the sights here can be covered on foot. Be sure to see the Roman arena, the Odyssey Theatre and the Vesunna Museum, and then perhaps stop off at the Marco Polo Sur Son Vélo tea bar for a breather. Ribérac, with its excellent Friday market, is a little farther.
Bergerac – Located an hour or so west of Sarlat by car, below Périgueux, is one of the favourite daytrip destinations of the Dordogne. Bergerac has a fine setting on the Dordogne River and pleasant ambling along cobbled alleys and around chateaux and courtyards. Stop-off en-route at Beynac-et-Cazenac for its medieval castle.
Monpazier – This intriguing, medieval bastide town (a fortified new town) is southwest of Sarlat. It came about under Edward I and is the most stunning of its type in this region. Arcades surround the central square with its church and the town retains the air of yesteryear marvellously.
Montignac – Head north for a look at this old town on the Vézère River, most of which is pedestrianised. It’s famed for its bridge and Chateau de Reignac and for its canoe tours on the river, which are especially nice in the spring. Be sure to take in the footpaths under bridge. Montignac could be visited on a combined trip with Périgueux.
Bordeaux – One of the main towns in this region of France is just a couple of hours’ drive by car rental. Most come to Bordeaux to take in the famous vineyards to the north of town in the Medoc region, a scenic area of wineries and estates. The historic town core is also attractive, while on the way is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Saint Emilion.