North of Figeac, this was the seat of a baron from the 11th C. onwards. Founded by the Cardaillac family, one of the most powerful in Quercy (the old name for this area), the fortress dominated the surrounding countryside and protected the village that developed beside it. The Cardaillacs produced many military figures and influential ecclesiastics over the centuries, some members of the family combining both careers. The village now has two distinct parts; the "fort", and the old residential village itself. Within the "fort", three of the castle's defensive towers still stand: a round 15th C. tower and two 11th-12th C. square ones, interspersed with more recent houses. The other quarter has numerous attractive old village houses, plus a stone well and some vestiges of the ramparts that once sheltered the inhabitants. It has also conserved various elements typical of a past way of life: a clog maker's workshop, a plum-drying oven, a chestnut-dryer, etc.
Tucked away in the back lanes of Carennac stands an attractive little museum of distilling, associated with an "aromatheque". As you stroll around this village on the banks of the Dordogne, a delicate fragrance of distilled rose and lavender wafts around you. The houses cluster around the fortified priory which brought wealth and renown to the place. The church of St. Pierre is a gem, with its carved 12th century tympanum and part- Romanesque.