The town of Sarlat lies in a hollow between hills a few miles north of the Dordogne River, and it possesses the highest concentration of medieval, Renaissance and 17th century façades of any town in France. The town originally developed around a large Benedictine abbey in the 8th century. After the Hundred Years' War Sarlat suffered considerable damage, yet it was granted a privileged status in return for the loyalty it had shown to the French Crown.
Sarlat was quickly restored and rebuilt, and re-emerged with the beautiful buildings it has retained to this day. Much of Sarlat's oldest architecture can be found in the lanes at the back of the cathedral. Here, a number of pretty courtyards - such as Cour des Fontaines and Cour des Chanoines - can be found, as can some of the town's original fortifications. All in all, more than 1,000 years of architecture can be seen here: from the 19th century buildings on the Rue de la République to the medieval houses of the Old Town, or Vieille Ville. All have been beautifully maintained or restored.