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The pretty village of Carennac in the Dordogne

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.

The site was occupied in the Gallo-Roman period and throughout the early Middle Ages. However, it was the abbey of Cluny, which founded a priory here in 1047, that sealed the destiny of the place.

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.

Causse de Grammat, Quercy

Dr Terry Marsh has written extensively for magazines and produced guidebooks for walkers to the French Pyrenees and the French Alps. 

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