10. Carnac

 Carnac is located at marker 10 on the map of Brittany below.

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FR BRITTANY MORBIHAN carnac monoliths

Carnac (pop 4,600) nestles between Vannes and Quiberon, offering exactly what its location has- history up north and sandy beaches down south. The town is home to numerous megaliths, (large prehistoric stone monuments) that are rivalled only by the Stonehenge in Britain and a 3km continuous stretch of beaches.

Layout
The ancient stone village is Carnac-Ville (northern) while the seaside resort is Carnac-Plage (southern). You can arrive via bus at rue St-Cornély or Ave des Druides.

 
 

 


FR BRITTANY MORBIHAN carnac monoliths

Nobody knows for certain how or why they were created, but no conversation on Carnac goes on without a mention of their giant megaliths. They are various forms of megaliths and a number of them can be found right here in Carnac.

One such variation are the menhirs (huge stone that stands upright) which line the rectangular land masses at Alignements du Ménec (the largest menhir field with about 1099 stones), Alignements de Kermaro and Alignements de Kerlescan; each more or less a kilometre apart.  Dating back to the Neolithic period, theorists believe that these stones served a religious purpose in a worship ritual. You can walk or cycle between these stones (Ménec and Kerlescan), which are lined like an imposing stone-slab army, stretching as far as the eye can see.

Just opposite the Ménec alignments, lies the Maison des Megaliths [rte des Alignements   +33 297522981 ad/ch Free], which offers visitors guided tours, basic information and a rooftop terrace of the surrounding stone ruins.

Another variation of the megalithic structures is the tumulus (stones mounted over graves). You can find the Tumulus St-Michel [rue du Tumulus] dating back to 5000 BC and the Tumulus de Kercado dating back to 3800 BC, between Alignements Kermaro and Kerlescan. Tumulus de Kercado was also once an ancient chieftain burial ground and a place of refuge for Breton royalists during the French Revolution.

If you head further down, you will find more menhirs at the Quadrilatére (a minimenhir cluster) and the Gaént du Manio (the highest menhir in the complex).

More of these features are located close to Locmariaquer (southeast of Carnac-Ville), where you can find the biggest menhir in the region, at Grand Menhir Brisé, which sits amidst dolmens (portal tombs comprising of two more stones slabs). The most notable ones are Table des Marchands (30 m long) and Dolmen des Pierres Plates (24m long).

If you find this entire megalith scouting experience rather confusing, then visit to the Musée de Prehistorie [10 Place de la Chapelle,   +33 297522204  www.museedecarnac.com ad/ch €5/2.50] for some back ground information regarding the Neo/Palaeolithic era around Carnac.

The town also has good beaches at its southern end to help you unwind. Plage du Beaumer and Plage du Men dû are the most frequented beaches, especially by kite surfers.

 


CARNAC MAP:   1.  Tourist office (Carnac Plage)  2. Standing Stones  3. Musée de Prehistorie  4.  Plage du Beaumer 

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