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Mar 26, 2011 07:11 PM

Searching for food experiences in and around Sarlat and Dordogne

I will be spending 6 days in Sarlat with my family in June. We will have a car and will be exploring the Dordogne. I would appreciate any and all recommendations, from food shops to the best restaurants. We will probably eat one or two high end meals but really prefer to experience the local mom and pop shop type of places.

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  1. I recommended several ferme-auberges in the following thread, and others gave very interesting recommendations too.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      This is excellent information. Exactly what we were looking for. Thanks so much!

      1. re: Parigi

        Salut Parigi! I laughed out loud when I clicked on your linked thread and found that it was my old one. Time flies when you are having fun.

        Where are YOU planning to eat this summer? Pray tell!

        1. re: Aleta

          Just ate myself silly on the Basque coast.
          Am going to Provence in June, the Dordogne-Lot in September. -- Font de Gaume and Pech Merle are two places where we go back to always, and they give us the same sense of overwhelm each time. Lascaux is really not bad; for us it is a well executed museum.Seeing it once is enough; we have no desire to see it again.
          And, like a heat-seeking missile in winter, going back to Nice in Christmas-New Year...
          And where are you eating? Where is your son eating? :-)

          1. re: Parigi

            About to eat myself silly in the Perigord this week. Tomorrow La Gabarre, already discussed, then somewhere in Bergerac on Tuesday when picking up roses from a local grower, then the Vieux Logis in Tremolat, one of our all time favourites, Thursday. And last week Chez Alphonse in Limoges, really good. Beginning to think it would be good for all our generous friends who want to take us out to go back to Toronto/Hawaii/Australia so that we can go back to a slower pace. And perhaps have some hope of losing weight!

            1. re: carlux

              kudos to you, carlux -- I couldn't do it! La Gabarre, Vieux Logis, etc., in the same week? It's OK for my guests, when they're only here for a few days, to eat out every day or night, but for those of us who live here for extended periods of time, it's not sustainable, as you know. At least not for me anymore. I'm sitting down to a late lunch right now...just a small slice of rabbit terrine, some fresh radishes, a few cornichon, a piece of cheese, and bread. Tonight, a market dinner of roti chicken from a favorite vendor at the Belvès market, baby turnips (also from the market this morning), and a sampling of three kinds of cherry tomatoes, including "coeurs de pigeon." It ain't the Vieux Logis, but it'll do. Oh, and wine with dinner. Not with lunch anymore. Just can't do it.
              Where are you going to eat in Bergerac? Do you like L'Imparfait?
              Bon ap!

              1. re: perigord lover

                We rarely go to Bergerac, and so don't have favourites. However, I think there are votes for La Table du Marche. But we really would appreciate this more if it were spread out over several months. However, we're having a busy month, and everyone wants to thank us by taking us out. South African friends at the end of the week. Sometimes we do 'just say no' but probably not often enough.

              2. re: carlux

                Will you be lunching for tapas or dinner at Vieux Logis on Thursday ?

                1. re: condor

                  Always for tapas - we really like the change from bigger, heavier meals, and besides it's an hour's drive home, so better done when we are a little fresher.

                  1. re: carlux

                    .. I'm due to go for tapas too ! ... on Thursday May 5 ...

                    1. re: carlux

                      "we really like the change from bigger, heavier meals"

                      You can say that again. Every time after a week down in the Dordogne-Lot, I start dreaming of a pho.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        We find (now that the years are passing!) that trading off the French way with the Anglo -Saxon works well. If you have a choice (sometimes invitations/social obligations eliminate that), have your heavier meal (say meeting friends or a special meal out) at lunchtime, like the French, then have a very small snack (or even nothing) in the evening. The next day you can reverse the process - a very light luch - and you're ready for a more adventurous meal in the evening. And so on. Eventually, you'll only want light lunch, light dinner for a another change!!

                2. re: Parigi

                  @ Parigi,

                  "Heat-seaking missile in winter", ha ha, that's funny! At least your missile doesn't have to fly far, like mine!

                  Spanish bookings are almost all done (Etxebarri, Arzak and a mountain of pintxos and tapas, please!) I'm sure my son will run wild on that side of the border. La Taulado reservation was confirmed yesterday! Still working on Ferme Auberge Calvel.

                  Le Vieux Logis looks VERY delicious and I could probably sit for hours in that dining room. However, our first priority in the Dordogne is to stare like fools at the spectacular natural and man-made scenery and give our digestive systems a little break from Madrid, San Sebastian and Barcelona (Is it even possible -- or prudent -- to give a digestive system 'a break' in the land of foie? I doubt it. )

                  I shall have to re-read all related posts and see if anyone mentioned a possible good lunch in Le Bugue. Our timed tickets for Font de Gaume place us close to Le Buge at lunchtime.

                  1. re: Aleta

                    One amazing aspect of the Vieux Logis is the outdoor terrace with magnificent views of the topiary manicured garden. In the heat of summer, the outdoor terrace is perfectly shaded as the tables are under a spectacular array of trees that grow specifically to give shade.

                    The other amazing aspect of the weekday lunches is the 'pure theatre' in which tapas style servings ensure a wide array of tastes without feeling too heavy.

                    I don't think Le Bugue has anywhere worth eating. Perhaps Monique's which is a wine bar, or La Renaissance at a push.

                    The most gorgeous setting for a cafe where food is served is near Le Bugue, in a small village called Limeuil. Terrace(s) over look where the Vezere & Dordogne rivers meet & in height of summer, the area will be full of people.

                    In the 'higher par't of Limeuil is a very small new restaurant called Garden Party. I've not eaten there but it only has a choice of 3 or 4 starters, mains and desserts. Also the well established Au Bon Acceuil which serves typical perigourdine food.

                    Slightly further than Limeuil is Paunat. Julien serves typical perigourdine food & is located next to the restored Abbey. Sitting outside is just stunningly beautiful & very quiet. Food mediocre, Julien himself very personable.

                    1. re: condor

                      Condor, many thanks for all this excellent intel. Limeuil sounds beautiful, as does the pure theatre of Le Vieux Logis. Time to pull out my maps again and do some re-routing.

            2. If you feel like seeing a part of the Dordogne which is quite different in character to the area around Sarlat and the eponymous river, make a day trip to Brantome, northwest of Sarlat, the "Venice of the Perigord" (since it is transformed into an island surrounded by the Dronne River). This is the "Perigord Vert" - with green valleys and deep forests - as opposed to the "Perigord Noir", all chalkland and open views. Brantome is a charming small town (around 3,000 inhabitants), with both medieval and 18th century architecture. The drive should take about 2 hours. On the way there or back , you can stop at St Jean-de-Cole (a picture postcard "Plus Beau Village de France"), see the Grotte de Villars (a smaller and less crowded prehistoric cave than the more publicized sites near Les Eyzies and Montignac, but just as old - and with cyrstalline formations you don't usually find in painted caves), and the chateau de Puyguilhem (a Loire-style fairy-tale castle).
              Your reward in Brantome is a meal at Les Freres Charbonnel on the river (book ahead, or be there by 12:30 pm). It has been in the Michelin for over 100 years, and is now in the hands of the fourth generation. It gets no stars (the Moulin d'Abbaye in town has one Michelin star, but gets no local custom - it's all tourists), but has excellent bourgeois cooking. There are several menus, but if you wish to go a la carte, they do not mind customers splitting dishes. The foie gras poele is superb and offered in two versions (as well as with ris de veau). This is the area to sample this delicacy: you are in the heart of the production area, and the prices are less punishing than in Paris and even Sarlat.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Piggyinthemiddle

                Near Brantôme I enjoyed visiting the Château de Bourdeilles and dining at the Moulin du Roc at Champagnac-de-Belair. Puyguilhem I found a bit run-down and sparsely furnished.

                  1. re: Piggyinthemiddle

                    We will put this day on the itinerary. It sounds wonderful! Thanks so much!

                  2. Second the Ferme-Auberge idea, a very unique experience, and a bevy of them in the Sarlat area. All food comes from the farm, by law.

                    There are also a lot of restaurants in Sarlat le Caneda, a charming town, especially in the medieval back streets, (no cars) just stay off the main road. The top 3 restos in Sarlat are:

                    Le Grand Bleu
                    Chez Le Gaulois
                    Le Bistro de L'Octroi.

                    Re: Brantome-- this is quite a haul from Sarlat. You will spend at least a half day driving back and forth. There is so much to do in the Perigord Noir (Sarlat area ) that it's best to save the Brantome area (Perigord Vert) for another trip. The Noir area has the fantastic cave drawings. The best caves are the Grotte de Font de Gaume and the Grotte de Combarelles. Both are in nearby Les Eyzies. You MUST make a reservation to get into these caves, there is a limited # of visitors per day. But they are sure to make a lifetime memory, the cave drawings are fantastic!

                    I would skip the highly-touted Lascaux II, it is a fake, the real cave is closed to the public.

                    There are also boat (gabarre) rides on the Dordogne in nearby Le Roque-Gageac, the scenery is dreamy. Also there are several "Bastide" towns (leftover from the Hundred Years War-- 14th Century) like Domme, also near Sarlat. A great medieval castle in Beynac.


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: menton1

                      may i ask a very basic question? we would like to have a sat. meal in july at Le Bistro de L'Octroi. i am now thinking a late lunch because we are staying in montignac and i am the only driver (my husband doesn't drive stick shift) and i'd rather not do super windy-dark roads if i don't have to (and, i'm a cheap date...1 glass of wine is plenty for me...lots of food tho!). what are considered lunch hours and should/can i make a lunch reservation?


                      1. re: redgirl

                        Lunch in this area usually starts around 12-12.30, and goes on for several hours, depending on the place. However, usually restaurants don't accept people after 2 - and sometimes earlier - unless it's a quick bistro type place like in the square in Sarlat, where you can get an omelette and a glass of wine all afternoon. Unlike restaurants in North America, most here have specific lunch hours, and then close until dinner.

                        I would suggest a reservation, especially in July. You might not need it, but if you are coming down from Montignac, why risk not being able to get in? 05 53 30 83 40

                        1. re: redgirl

                          We just had a wonderful dinner at Bistro de L'Octroi two nights ago. The terrace was delightful and the food was very good. The duck confit was delicious as was a terrine of oxtail and foie gras. It is very busy here now so I would recommend a reservation as well. Also, it is light until after 10:00 pm so unless you have a very late dinner driving shouldn't be a problem in the pitch black dark of night in July.

                      2. Two very recent recommendations:
                        La Gabarre, St Julien de Lampon - about 15 km.east of Sarlat.
                        We were there last night (and several times last year) and it is really excellent. The chef worked at Le Grand Bleu in Sarlat, with the team that obtained a Michelin Star. His wife does front of house, and is charming. Two course menus at lunch, 2-3 at dinner.

                        I had foie gras with rhubarb confit, spring lamb 'two ways', one being with very interesting spicing, from somewhere in the Middle East. Then a strawberry tart beautifully presented, with basil ice cream. Great food, inventive cooking, great location, above the Dordogne. Highly recommended. (Sorry, I dont take photos - usually too busy appreciating the food.)

                        Monpazier, Bistrot 2.
                        Earlier in the week we were in Monpazier, buying fabric at Karine B, lots of Provencal type fabric, and even better as they were getting rid of ends of line, at 50% off. Just across the square (Forail) is the Bistrot 2. Again an excellent meal, as we sat under the wisteria, had white asparagus with lemon cream dressing, large and very tender pork chop with oven roasted potatoes, strawberries with almond cream, for 19.75 Euros.

                        4 Replies
                          1. re: carlux

                            Carlux - chef at La Gabarre is from Le Grand Bleu? Is it the fellow that opened the restaurant with Maxime, the one who had worked at Le Centenaire with him? I hadn't heard long has he been at La Gabarre? We'll have to run down and try it. Ate there a few times, years ago, beautiful spot, but at that time we weren't all that impressed with the food, although they were "trying." Sounds much better now.

                            And we love the Bistrot 2 when in Monpazier -- there's a Brocante Fair there on the weekend of June 11-12, so if the OP reads this and thinks going to the Brocante would be fun, I suggest you make reservations for lunch that day at Bistrot 2.

                            1. re: perigord lover

                              From a review in the Sud-Ouest June 2010:
                              'Après un Baccalauréat professionnel à l’école hôtelière du Touquet, Ludovic a fait son apprentissage dans un restaurant étoilé au Michelin et a travaillé dans des restaurants parisiens réputés. Après une expérience au Mexique de dix mois avec Valentine, il a été son propre chef dans un établissement du Val d’Isère avant de devenir second au Grand Bleu où il a contribué à décrocher l’étoile au Michelin .'

                              1. re: perigord lover

                                We will be arriving in Sarlat on the 13th, so we'll miss the Fair, unfortunately. Thanks for the recommendation of Bistrot 2 in Monpazier.

                            2. Keep an eye out for Trappe Echourgnac, a local cheese marinated in walnut liqueur. I bought the best creme fraiche ever at the Marche Couvert in Sarlat. Try salade de gesiers d'oie (salad with goose gizzards, walnuts, and walnut oil).

                              Report on my 2007 trip:


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Great information here and on the 2007 thread.
                                Thanks so much!