La Maison de Pan de Bois was built towards the end of the 15th century, and was once one of the main shops in the ancient village of Carennac, as shown by its large arched window on the ground floor. Today, it is a finely restored three-storey townhouse with exposed stone walls, high ceilings and wooden beams, surrounded by other medieval properties.
The house is thoughtfully furnished and decorated with antiques and paintings, giving it a good balance of elegance and relaxation. Three bedrooms – two doubles and a single – mean that the house can sleep up to five, but it is ideal for a couple, or two couples.
The house is located in the heart of the village of Carennac, and is less than 200 metres from the Dordogne river. Officially, the house is one of the dozen most significant houses in Carennac, and is noted for its rare corbelled middle floor, which projects out over the street. Beside the house is a private walled terrace with a barbecue, which is a perfect place to dine outdoors, with a shaded wooden dining table and seating for six. As a new service for guests, chefs who once ran a renowned English restaurant can visit to cook and serve a meal for up to eight to the highest standard.
Arched stone-framed doors lead into a large kitchen-dining area which occupies the whole ground floor. The modern kitchen is fully equipped with all new appliances, including a cooker, a fridge/freezer, a microwave and a dishwasher, with a washing machine in the utility room. Everything is provided that visitors might need. The wood-panelled dining area can easily seat six or more and stays cool through hot summer days.
Stairs lead upstairs to the living room on the middle floor, where a sofa and armchairs surround the original fireplace. Wood is supplied, and a fan system warms the upstairs bedrooms, keeping the house very cosy in the cooler months. Medieval stone seats are built into the nook of the casement window, overlooking the street outside. Modern features include a combined TV and DVD player, and a new stereo system with CD and MP3 player. At the top of the stairs, the medieval toilet is still in place – a stone cubicle with a round hole over the gutter outside. Thankfully, it’s kept just for show! The first of the double bedrooms is also on this floor, and has a modern ensuite bathroom with a shower, basin, and toilet. An external stone staircase also leads up to this floor from outside the house.
From the living room, open wooden steps go to the top floor, where there are two more bedrooms under the eaves. One has a double bed, and the other has a single bed. These bedrooms share a new bathroom with a bath, basin and toilet. The owners live only 20 minutes away and offer services such as leaving breakfast prepared for the first day, or bringing in basic supplies to await guests.
Carennac is an excellent place for a holiday: the village is officially classified as one of the most beautiful in France, and it has earned its designation. Dating back to Roman times, the streets are wide enough for a horse and cart, and its tightly packed houses offer an endless variation on medieval architecture ranging from typical to the unique and extraordinary. Carennac’s château rises high above the Dordogne, and the priory features some magnificent 12th century stone carvings. Annual summer exhibitions attract some of the region's finest sculptors and artists, while the village itself is an inspiration to many amateur artists.
The region is renowned for its distinctive rich food, from foie gras to cassoulet. Carennac is amply served by restaurants and bars, from excellent formal dining at the Hotel Fenelon to the relaxed feel of the Bodega, a Columbian tapis bar, or the crêperie and bar next door. The 200-metre stroll from the house to the Dordogne river passes both, as well as the medieval boulangerie where the bread is still baked as it was in the middle ages. A village shop supplies all the essentials, and the market every Tuesday evening features the excellent regional produce.
Carennac is within easy reach of some of the major attractions of the Dordogne valley, such as the medieval pilgrimage town of Rocamadour, where penitents including Henry II have climbed the hundreds of steps to the summit on their knees. The magnificently preserved medieval town of Sarlat is around an hour to the west, while the smaller medieval town of Martel is closer at hand. Also well worth a visit are the town of Curement and Collonges-la-Rouge, where all the buildings are constructed of red stone. The high hilltop village of Turenne dominates the countryside for miles around, and the village’s medieval lords once ruled the region. The Souillac/Brive airport is now open at Cressensac, only a 30 minutesdrive away.
The area abounds in ancient history, with the world famous cave paintings at Lascaux and the huge cavern at Padirac where tourist boats cross the underground lakes. The Hundred Years War also left its mark on the region, and the fortresses at Castelnaud and Beynac offer exhibitions of their past. Among the outdoor activities, canoes are available to hire at many points on the river, and for cyclists willing to take on some steep climbs, the roads are a treat. Marked walking trails wind throughout the region. There is an excellent water park just a few kilometres from the house; the Dordogne itself is also safe for a swim, and a large lake nearby offers sailing and rowing. The region is famous for its weekly markets and summer fêtes, so there is always something going on in the surrounding towns and villages.
“We have had a wonderful week in this delightful quaint house in a stunning village. On all our travels we have not come across a place as pretty as Carrenac. ”
K.L. - Cheshire, UK
“Christmas week; Can’t think of a better way to spend a cold winters evening than relaxing by a roaring log fire enjoying a glass or two of the local wine. Carennac is an amazing village and a delight to explore.”
Susan and Bill B. - Coventry, UK
“We feel fortunate to have come across your home on the gite website. We had the opportunity to explore a different region in France and always felt comfortable when returning to your home at the end of the day.”
Guy H. - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
“This wonderful trip has been a succession of fabulous meals interrupted by sight seeing not to believed. Almost every where you go, there is something new, different, and interesting to see. Carennac appears to be the ultimate base camp for exploring the southern part of France. ”
Mary Ann S. - Maryland, USA
“We had a delightful week in your comfortable house. We felt right at home as soon as we arrived. We fell in love with the area and would someday like to return for a more permanent stay. ”
Steven H. - Naples, Italy
“Congratulations on a beautiful restoration. We loved the intrigue of this medieval place and the beauty of the area. We can recommend canoeing from Roque Gageac (no effort and the best view of the chateaux), the musée prehistoire at Les Eyzies, Sarlat and the butcher of Bretenoux! Many thanks for your hospitality and warm welcome.”
Lesley S. - Lynton, Australia
“Thank you for this lovely spot - surely the prettiest in the region. We loved every minute, for things like the winding road under the cliffs at Gluges, the hike along the river to Mezels, the crepes at the corner cafe here in Carennac and the pain anciene just up the street. We cant wait to come back. ”
Penny J. - San Francisco, California, USA
“What a wonderful two weeks in Carennac. We adored the medieval townhouse - three levels of luxury. You have thought of all the things which make a stay so comfortable and easy. The interior design is superb - very French and true to the history of the home but with all the modern conveniences which we have come to expect!”
Fiona M. - Australia