Booking.com: best prices
The Manoir de Gisson is a beautiful building in the centre of the historic centre of Sarlat in the Dordogne.
It is located at the edge of the Place de la Liberty, opposite the large covered market.
Visit the Manoir de Gisson
Sarlat is full of fabulous medieval buildings and amongst the best of them is the Manoir de Gisson. It is a listed building and has recently been opened to the public.
Its entrance is on the Place du Marché aux Oies, goose market square, once an important trading area for geese and a charming statue of three geese now has pride of place in the centre of the square.
The manor house is two different constructions linked by a 13th century hexagonal tower which contains a stone staircase. Whilst outside take a look at the roof which is made of stone (lauze) and is incredibly heavy. Once very common these lauze roofs are becoming quite rare due to the sheer weight of the tiles.
Also noteworthy are the mullioned windows, the pretty colonnaded window, the first floor balcony with a wrought iron railing and the decorated door frames.
Cabinet of Curiosities
Inside you first of all enter the vaulted basement which is home to a collection of curiosities. These collections were very fashionable with the wealthy at the end of the Renaissance and the notables of the day were keen collectors of any curiosities brought back from travels by the adventurers of the time.
Interestingly even though huge numbers of new plants, animals, cultural artefacts etc were being discovered some less reputable voyagers still felt a need to fabricate marvels and a narwhal horn was passed off as a unicorn horn whilst there is something that looks like a hare with a squirrels tail and anchors stuck on!
The collection includes a number of shrunken human heads along with a recipe for making them!
These collections of curiosities are common in mansions of castles of the day and you can see a similar collection at the Chateau de Fenelon nearby.
The upper parts of the house offer a glimpse of life in the house of the Sarlat nobility and specifically the Gisson family. The Gisson family had various titles including: Consul, Royal Notary, Knight of the Order of St Louis and Captain of the Dragoons.
The rooms in the Manoir de Gisson contain furniture dating from the Middle Ages to the 17th century and also reflect the decorations of the time with tiled floors, panelled walls and oak or stone fireplaces amongst other features.
The 'Great Drawing Room' has featured in a number of films set in Sarlat. It includes some excellent wooden furniture.
The 'Boudoire de Madame' is one of the smaller rooms but this is where the mistress of the house would sit quietly sowing and receiving visitors.
Also to see are the kitchen, the smoking room, the office and the maids room.
Places to Visit Nearby
There is lots to see in Sarlat and you can easily spend a half day or day ambling through its medieval streets. The panoramic lift is well worth doing to get a view of Sarlat from above.
The Hôtel de Vienne is a beautiful 16th century building which you can enter for free to admire both the art exhibitions inside and the interior of the building.
Sarlat is at the heart of the Dordogne and surrounded by wonderful places to visit. If you have one day to visit look at our one day guide for advice on the best places to visit.
You can find more local travel ideas in the guide.