Sarlat-la-Canéda is a very attractive medieval city which is beloved by all. Whether it is the 17th time you have come on holidays here or the first you’ll like wandering in the streets, roaming in the steep alleyways and discovering them all!! But, what about a change of perspective? How do you feel about a higher point of view? It is the first time you are asked not to use the stairs...take a lift!
At 35 metres above our heads is an unusual lift, rather unique. It was imagined by the great French contemporary architect Jean Nouvel, as part of enhancing the Gothic style Church Sainte-Marie at the beginning of the millennium. The church occupies a central place in the medieval city and was listed as a Historic monument in 1905. After being transformed into various non-religious uses (bakery, coal storage, post office...), the building was taken over by the Town Hall which ordered a renovation project, leading to the creation of a covered market and a cultural area inside the church. The two entry doors, including the 15 metres high glassed one, are now in metal and the one at the alter end of the church weighs more than 2 tons! You cannot miss it if you come to Sarlat!
The tower bell of the Sainte-Marie Church. You can barely see the structure of the lift...
The over 2 tons monumental door and inside the church: the covered market
And all of this, just under the nose of the famous geese!
It is on the other side of this monumental door that the entrance of the panoramic lift is located, it was designed by the office of the famous architect Jean Nouvel and is a bespoke design after a lot of issues...
We understand the topography of the town, which is built on levels (this is the reason why you need to come with comfortable shoes)
The Cuze, a stream which crosses the town centre just below the church, has been diverted to allow the installation of technical and safety equipment. The centre of Sarlat, being both ancient and listed, made it impossible to install a visible or fixed deck at the top of the bell tower... The structure of the lift is therefore totally concealed by the building and the large observation window at the top, is mobile.
A bespoke lift and perfectly adapted to the constrictions of the listed town.
The cabin can take up to a maximum of 8 people at a time plus a guide. The visit lasts 12 minutes, including 1 minute to go up and 1 minute to go down. The guide is invaluable, as from up there, all the buildings look different and the guide will help you to locate the symbolic buildings of the town.
Fortunately, the guide was here to show me all the important buildings!
The lift carries up to 25,000 visitors per year, it is open in high season, but also during the inter-season, depending on weather and especially humidity... Because there is no roof, it does not work when it is raining or too windy. Contact the Tourist Office on the day of your visit (if you are not sure about the weather) to check if it is working.
A very large panorama at 180 degrees!
Tickets can be purchased directly at the lift (by Credit Card only) or at the Tourist Office. During the high season, you can book up to 4 days in advance and I recommend you do it, get your tickets as soon as possible and be punctual for the departure.
You can perfectly see the ancient fortifications of the medieval city
For Perigord lovers, it is a real plus. Discover the roofs of the town and understand the topography, it is fun to recognised the places you have already visited. The view on the countryside is beautiful too! Do not miss the chance to take this lift, even if it is a bit grey outside as the light is very beautiful. By the way, do not forget your sunglasses;)
Opening times and information on Sarlat Tourist Office website
Information on the lift of Sarlat, Guide du Périgord