We awoke today to find the Saturday market in Sarlat in full swing. With the benefit of double glazed windows, we had not heard a thing, yet right below our window was a man selling flowers and across the road another man was selling paella that he was cooking in five enormous pans. We knew that the market was happening today as we had seen signs restricting parking in the street, but we had at least expected too hear some sounds from it being set up.
The whole town turns into a market on Saturdays (with a smaller on on Wednesdays). The market stretched about one kilometre from the road to the left of our hotel to all the way to the other side of the old town. The square by the church and the little streets in the old town were chock-a-block with food stalls. You could by anything from local delicacies to jewellery. This was the full blown French market experience. One man was even selling pencil cases with aboriginal motifs ( A good opportunity for a copyright lawyer if ever I saw one!).
Stall holders handed out small samples of their wares and we tried everything from local wine to duck sausage. This is not a good place to be if you are a duck or a goose. Your life, although rich with food, will be short and in no time you will have lost your head and be turned into pate, fois gras or sausage. Walnuts are clearly another local product. This stall even sold walnut flavoured duck sausage!
Food is very interesting in the way that it changes in nature, and names, in different parts of the world. As we know, in Australia we buy potato chips – just as people do in England. Americans call the same things French Fries and ironically, one of the lunch spots that we visited the other day sold (you guessed it) sold American Fries. We had to laugh!
We had a fascinating time wandering around the market. I ended up being talked into buying a felt hat that will not crush so I have something to wear on my bald head as a memento of this place. After lots of walking, our feet were sore so we stopped at a couple of little cafes for a coffee. We found a small, but busy restaurant down an alleyway and had the plat de jour for lunch.
As the roads by the market were all closed, we had a little trouble finding our way out of town to visit the Jardins de Marqyeyssac. These were in the little village of Vezac, about 9 kilometres from here. The garden area is around an old castle and made of a multitude of trimmed box hedges.At first glance, they looked as though they are part of a giant human brain. They are all trimmed by hand twice each year.
The gardens extended along the cliff top over the Dordogne River and gave a splendid view over the places that we had visited yesterday. It would have been a walk of perhaps a kilometre to the highest lookout, or Belvedere, where the view was stunning. Just as we were about to leave to return to our hotel, we were blessed with a stunning view of some hot air balloons rising above the valley. This really is a delightful place.