Souillac is a town in the north of the Lot department in Occitania, on the border of the departments of Corrèze and Dordogne.
The city with nearly 4,000 inhabitants is located 65 km north of Cahors, 35 km south of Brive and 26 km east of Sarlat, the emblematic city of Périgord.
Souillac has developed thanks to its privileged location in the heart of a fertile region in the north of the former province of Quercy, contrasting with the causses, to the east, and as a crossroads of roads, Axis Paris-Toulouse and the Dordogne river which joins the Atlantic coast.
From the seventeenth century on, the gabares that go up the stream can unload salt, fish and wines...
Until then, the prosperity of Souillac was the result of a priory established in the tenth and then a vast Romanesque abbey built in the 12th century, surrounded by an enclosure. After the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion, during which the city paid a heavy price, the city and its abbey were rebuilt.
In addition to its small and medium-sized fabric and its commercial areas, Souillac, which is still a crossroads in terms of transport and logistics (river, motorway, airport), is also a tourist town appreciated for its built heritage, environment and gastronomy (foie gras, Quercy...).
We will start a stage or a stay in Souillac by the discovery of its historical center and its picturesque lanes.
The emblematic Abbey of Sainte-Marie, which owes its origin to the Benedictine monks of Saint-Pierre d'Aurillac, deserves special attention. The buildings were rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the 12th-century church, topped with Byzantine-style cupolas, features a rich set of sculptures among which there is a rare representation of the prophet Isaiah. Several paintings are kept inside, where one has to linger before the organ classed, dating from 1845.
Also worth seeing is the old Saint-Martin church (16th century) with an astonishing belfry tower.
Still in the city center, but more recent, one can admire a hall built in 1832.
The city is renowned for its numerous bridges and viaducts, including the Louis Vicat bridge, the first of its kind in artificial cement and the viaduct of Borrèze (19th century), which is part of the complementary inventory of historic monuments. The most recent (1998), on the A20, more than 300 m long, offers a unique panorama of the town and the loops of the Dordogne.
Souillac is also famous for its automaton museum, unique in Europe. There is a surprising collection of automatons and mechanical toys of the 19th and 20th centuries (more than 300 in total), mostly from the Roullet-Decamps workshops, created in 1865. The ensemble is governed by a "brain electronic". Adults and children are thus transported into a magical universe in an atmosphere of sound and light. Presentation in addition to temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Paid entry. Information on 05 65 37 07.
In a different way, the museum of the Old Prune, which adjoins a distillery, makes it possible to apprehend the process of secular elaboration of these exceptional products. Information on +33 5 65 32 78 16.
Souillac, crossed by the GR 6 which connects Sarlat to Rocamadour by taking an old way of Saint-Jacques, is obviously conducive to many walks on foot or by bicycle. Many routes include the most remarkable sites of the city and its surroundings, such as the banks of the Dordogne. Brochures and information on +33 5 65 33 22 00.
To cool off, you will choose the municipal swimming pool (entrance fee, contact on +33 5 65 37 82 47) or the Quercyland leisure center, which offers several pools for swimming or fun, slides, but also go-karting and tree climbing. Paid entry. Join 0565 32 72.
To combine sport and discover the landscapes in a singular setting, the practice of canoeing on the Dordogne can also be a good choice. Contact the base of Souillac at +33 6 80 01 78 63 or +33 5 65 32 72 61.
During the 3rd week of July, the jazz festival of Souillac is a program of internationally renowned artists in unique locations (outdoors, squares or gardens, not to mention concerts off the streets). Information on the telephone number +33 5 65 37 04 93.
From mid-July to mid-August, the Heure d'Orgue festival is held, with most of the dozens of concerts taking place at the abbey church.
Finally, to appreciate local products and local handicrafts, the colorful and fragrant market of Souillac takes place all the year on Wednesdays and Fridays from 8h to 13h, doubled in summer of a local market on Wednesday.