If I fancied a view of my tax disc for a couple of hours this morning I’d head to Sarlat-la-Canéda. It’s market day in the town today and the roads leading to it will be exceptionally busy.
It takes a while to get up into the town on an ordinary day, let alone on a Saturday – and it’s not hard to see why. Known simply as Sarlat for short, the town is one of Périgord’s treasures.
With its winding streets and golden sandstone buildings, the town rarely fails to charm visitors. Built originally in the eighth century, it prospered after the end of the Hundred Years War between England and France. Today, its medieval architecture has been beautifully maintained.
But that hasn’t always been the case. By the early 1960s, the town was poor and run down.
Its transformation is all thanks to former French culture minister André Malraux who, in 1962, made it a pilot for a national regeneration project. Cleaned and restored, the town attracts thousands of visitors every week. The cathedral, the Place du Marché aux Oies and the Lanterne des Morts are among its most popular attractions.
Sarlat is now on a list of towns the French government is considering putting forward as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
From which it’s reasonable to conclude that the wait to get into Sarlat is worth it.
I wish I were sat in a queue of traffic on my way into the town today. Instead, I’m beginning my journey home.