The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur
May 12 - Sarlat and Elsewhere

While we are definitely in a resting cycle, we still have to see SOME of the area. So at the crack of noon we saddled up for a ride to Sarlat, about 30 miles east of us along the Dordogne. I understand that when the summer tourist season hits, the roads can get jammed but we are still weeks ahead of the early surge and traffic was light.

Sarlat is set amid forested hills and, at least from a visitors perspective, is attractive for its well-preserved medieval old town blissfully free of cars. Wednesday was a market day although due to our late start, we arrived just as the vendors were packing up. Market days are a big deal throughout France. They have been a central focus of life in rural areas since the Middle Ages. Some markets are narrowly focused (for example, on antiques), but most offer a wide array of fresh produce, tastings of wine and other local beverage and a smattering of items like knives kitchen goods and cheap clothing. Margene always searches for vendors selling table linens. There are some photos of a market in my earlier report from Versailles.

The markets are as much a social event as a commercial one, creating a sort of community gathering to exchange gossip and generally stay in touch. There is a market somewhere in the area most every day and vendors work a circuit, the same one they and their families have followed year after year. As a result, the vendors are as much a part of the towns they sell in as the people who live there. We really have nothing in the U.S. that quite compares to a French market day.

After lunch at a Sarlat creperie, we just drove around the area, taking in the sights. It is truly a lovely and relaxing part of the country. Ever the party animals, we returned to the house, scavenged dinner out of the fridge and watched an excellent BBC video on wines. Maybe tomorrow we will get more productive ... but probably not!

Wandering through Sarlat

Around the Dordogne

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