Carennac, just a short drive from Rocamadour, sits on a rocky terrace overlooking the left bank of the Dordogne. There is a pleasing ensemble of tiled houses and turreted mansions focused on its old priory. It was once the home base of the writer François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénélon, a French Roman Catholic archbishop, theologian, poet and writer, better known simply as François Fénélon.
Many of the stone-built houses boast mullioned windows, and date from the 16th century, imbuing the village with Renaissance elegance and Quercy charm. A number of the houses have watchtowers or exterior staircases, and collectively display a patchwork of steeply sloping brown-tiled roofs. Much older than these, is the church of St-Pierre, a Romanesque structure with a fine tympanum that dates from the 12th century. This is a lovely place to explore, and a leaflet available from the tourist office located in the former apartments of the Deans gives a detailed survey of the village and its buildings of note.
Close by and also worth a visit are the villages of Loubressac and Autoire.
Dr Terry Marsh has written extensively for magazines and produced guidebooks for walkers to the French Pyrenees and the French Alps.