7 Interesting Facts about Carnac in France

Home to the largest megalithic site in the world, Carnac in France is also famous for its beautiful beaches, making it a hotspot for visitors who like sun, sand, history and mystery. Curious to know more about this town with its puzzling archaeological artefacts? Here are some of the most interesting facts about Carnac in France.

7 Interesting Facts about Carnac in France

1. Carnac is a commune in Brittany

Carnac is a town on the south coast of Brittany, in northwest France. More precisely, it is located beside the Gulf of Morbihan in the Morbihan department. It is situated on a peninsula that is halfway between the medieval town of Vannes and the seaside resort of Quiberon. Carnac is divided into two centres: Carnac-Ville and Carnac-Plage. The beachfront is Carnac-Plage.

2. Carnac has five beaches

Carnac has five beaches; Ty Bihan, Légenèse, Beaumer, la Grande Plage, and Plage Men Dû. The beaches at Carnac offer a range of activities for holidaymakers, for instance, swimming, fishing, walking, water sports, or simply sunbathing. The wind and waves of the region attract day and cruise sailors, as well as water sports enthusiasts. The five beaches of Carnac are sheltered and sunny with fine, soft sand, and gentle slopes to the clean and clear seawater.

3. Carnac is famous for the Carnac stones

Carnac is famous for the Carnac stones, which are one of the most important centres of European prehistory. These are a collection of Neolithic menhir – one of the most extensive collections in the world. The megalithic sites consist of rows of stone alignments, stone tombs called dolmens, tumuli burial mounds and single menhirs (standing stones). There are more than 3,000 standing stones.

4. The Carnac Stones are 7,000 years old

The pre-Celtic people of Brittany hewn these menhirs from local granite and erected them across the different sites. Experts believe that they erected the stones at some stage during the Neolithic period. The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age covering the years 10,000–4,500 BC. The stones were probably erected around 3,300 BCE, but some of the stones may date to as early as 4,500 BCE. This means the world-famous standing stones are some 7,000 years old. 

5. Megaliths really are mega

The megaliths vary in size from 1-metre to a massive 6.5 metres tall. They weigh several hundred tons. For example, St. Michael’s Barrow is the largest burial mound at the site. It measures 125 x 60 metres and is 12 metres high. The Er Mané Barrow has an unusual oval form and measures 35 x 23 metres. The Le Manio Barrow measures 37 x 10 metres and is topped by a massive 6.5-metre menhir known as the Manio Giant. The Crucuno Dolmen has a classic arrangement of a circle of stones topped by a huge 40-ton stone slab. The dolmen’s burial chamber measures 3.5 metres across and is 1.8 metres high.

6. The Carnac Stones are puzeling

The Carnac Stones are a puzzling archaeological artefact. Basically, experts say that the stones should not have existed in the period in which they were constructed. One theory of the stones’ function is to map out territories that the builder considered their own. However, other theories put forward include that they have the same purpose as the Pyramids of Egypt in that they are burial sites. Others believe that they are for religious gatherings or used for astronomical purposes.

7. Legends surround the Carnac Stones

One of the local legends around the Carnac Stones is that when the Roman legion marched on the grounds, the wizard Merlin turned them into stone. And when you see the stones, they do indeed look like a granite army.

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

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