Exploring the medieval village of Sarlat out-appealed walking in the surrounding countryside, and gave us each an opportunity to occupy our time without being one wheel of a four-wheel drive vehicle. DM and I did shopping in the justly- famous Sarlat Saturday market, while DB walked the self-guided city tour and W did tai qi and sudoku in the park. We met for lunch at a quaint courtyard, then DB went back to the hotel to relax while the other three did the city tour. We all spent an hour or so doing email and post cards in the mid-afternoon and then the D’s invited us up to their roomier (set up for handicapped) suite for a pre-prandial cordial. So we are learning how to be apart as well as together – A good travel skill.
The Saturday market in Sarlat attracts vendors from all over the regions, with lots of opportunities to sampled the key products: olives and their oil, walnuts and their oil, and (less lavishly set out for tasting) duck and goose foie gras. The market fills several streets, the main public square, and the inside of an abandoned church whose entire back wall has been converted to a giant portal allowing free circulation of both air and people to the market stalls inside.
Having figured out the advantage of attracting tourists to their market on Saturday morning, the city fathers of Sarlat have lost no time in figuring out ways to keep those walking cash dispensers in town as long as possible. On the Saturday of our stay we were tempted back onto the streets long after the market closed with an evening sound-and-light presentation called “Un Patrimoine sous les Etoiles” [A Patrimony under the Stars] in the old city starting at 9pm.
W and DB begged off, but DM and I set out after dinner to find the streets and ramparts lined with votive candles , the public buildings and cathedral lit with patriotic blue, white, and red, an artist drawing calligraphy with a light torch in the public square, and a buxom artiste on a balcony reading patriotic excerpts from Sarlat’s leading literary light Etienne de La Boetie accompanied by a cello. The ostensible theme of the evening was something to do with the responsibilities of citizenship, but the real point was to see how different and how cool the old city looked with candle-lit paths and colored light effects.