Stone alignments Carnac megaliths menhirs brittany

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I know quite a bit about Brittany. I love the north coast around Perros Guirec, and I really enjoyed discovering the Emerald Coast, where I’ve been back several times, especially the medieval city of Saint Malo. But not Morbihan. Well, yes, it seems I went there with my family when I was 10, “don’t you remember?” asked my mother? Well, not really. That’s over 30 years ago, Mom.

I’m not going to lie to you, there were 2 reasons for going to Carnac. Firstly, it was the weekend of August 15, the most touristic of the year, and I got round to it at the very last minute (what a great idea to have your wedding anniversary on August 15!), so there was only one place to stay in Brittany, and that was there 😀 Secondly, what convinced me to go was to see the famous Carnac menhirs, thousands of megaliths all over the area, with no real meaning or explanation, and a bit of a mystique. But fortunately, Carnac is more than that, it’s a good base for exploring the surrounding area and the Morbihan in general. Because there really is a lot to see in the area! Let’s take a look

The megaliths of Carnac

Very concretely, that’s why we’re here. The Carnac alignments are thousands of megaliths of varying sizes, lined up in onion rows over several kilometers. The amazing thing is that they are between 4,000 and 6,500 years old, and there’s no certainty as to why they were built, what their purpose was or what rituals they might have performed.

It all starts at Carnac with the Ménec alignments, the main site. It then continues with the Toulchignan alignments, the Kermario alignments with a very large dolmen, and the Manio alignments. All of these can be visited along the same road, which is super convenient. And there are several ways to visit them:

  • by foot, but you can’t get into the main sites unless you take the guided tour of the tourist center at Le Ménec (which should be pretty interesting!)
  • but a visit from the outside, i.e. just on the other side of the little wooden barrier, is enough to get a good look at the menhirs. There’s just no explanation
  • otherwise you can take a tour bus, which we did to save time. It’s interesting, and has the advantage of doing the whole tour fairly quickly, with an audioguide and a good view. We rounded it off with a walking tour of Le Ménec.
  • Another option is a 1h30 Segway tour of the megalithic sites, with a guide providing information and legends.
  • Finally, by bike. The entire site is bordered by a pedestrian and cycle path, which is great fun if you’ve got a bit of time on your hands.
Stone alignments Carnac megaliths menhirs brittany
Stone alignments Carnac megaliths menhirs brittany

Other megalith sites

In addition to the megalithic alignments at Carnac (and beyond), there are several other interesting sites not far from the town:

  • Alignements de Kerzerho, on the road to Erdeven, is the second largest megalithic site in Brittany, and frankly, it’s very nice. Unlike Carnac, you can wander freely between the menhirs.
  • Mégalithes de Locmariaquer, we’ll look at this site in more detail below, but it’s really interesting because it’s totally different.
  • The tumulus site and the megaliths ofGavrinis island, which can only be visited on a guided tour from Lamor Baden, is nicknamed “the Sixtine Chapel of the Neolithic” for its engraved decorations.
  • The Petit Mont cairn in Arzon will remind you of a pyramid. Superbly well preserved, it was once home to engraved menhirs.
  • the Er Lannic cromlechs are located on a small islet and are unique in that they are half-sunken by the water.

And there’s so much more – they’re everywhere!

menhirs alignments megaliths kerzerho carnac
menhirs alignments megaliths kerzerho carnac

Enjoy the small town of Carnac

Frankly, I enjoyed the town of Carnac itself. Of course, we were there mainly to explore the surrounding area, but we were really pleasantly surprised by the town center, especially around the church. There’s a big contrast with the beachfront, which is Carnac’s other main district, where there may be less authenticity, but the area is top-notch. Yes, the beach is very big and pleasant, with big, beautiful houses. The seafront is really nice!

Above St Colomban beach, there’s a very pretty part of Carnac with the little chapel of St Colomban. We were a little sad not to have taken more advantage of the sea. It was the middle of August 15 and not too crowded. All right, the weather wasn’t exactly conducive to swimming either. Unfortunately, this summer has been particularly bad, but as the Bretons say, it’s sunny several times a day! So I’d say that with the little church, the town center and the beach, there’s plenty to keep you busy in Carnac, if you mix that with visits to the surrounding area. And it’s not too stressful, because it’s not very big.

If you prefer, you can explore the town and beaches on a Segway! Carnac also has a market on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. Great fun, great produce, great size, great atmosphere. I’ve heard that the one in Auray is also great, but we can’t forget to mention the Carnac Prehistory Museum. Not essential, but very nice and interesting. Among the exhibits are carved menhirs, artifacts of the area’s first inhabitants, and numerous representations explaining how these inhabitants lived, how they farmed and raised livestock, funeral rites

Church Carnac Brittany
museum préhistory carnac menhir
museum préhistory carnac menhir
beach brittany carnac

A boat trip in the Gulf of Morbihan

This was another must to do. As this was my first visit to Morbihan (well, I’ll skip the remedial course at the Jesuits in Vannes when I was in high school, I wasn’t allowed to go out 😀 I must say I kind of deserved it!), I absolutely had to discover the famous gulf. It’s like a small inland sea, with a very mild climate and several super-pleasant islands to visit, so there are lots of boat companies offering a big boat tour with an island visit. We took the super all-day tour of the bay, disembarking on Ile aux Moines. Worryingly, we took the 1-hour trip, but that’s not nearly enough! We don’t even have time to make the round trip to the center of the island. So we missed the return trip by a landslide 😀 And had to board another boat later. But we did get to visit the island, which I’ll tell you about right after this. The aim of this tour is to have a real guided tour of the Gulf of Morbihan, to see the main places and their history from the boat. There are a lot of islands in the gulf, so a discovery tour gives you a good overview of the main islands, some partially sunken megaliths, and just a great time on the boat.

There are a lot of companies in the gulf. We went with Navix. Why? simply because they left from Locmariaquer (near our home), made a round trip to l’ile aux Moines and had good schedules. And have a good reputation. But there are others, like the Angelus ( which brought us back after we’d missed our return) or Izenah. There are several possible stopovers, so we chose the Ile aux Moines, but if you can, take the 3h stopover because 1h is really too short. The island is really cute, so it’s worth taking your time. There’s also the ile d’Arz. Prices start at around €25

Strolling around Ile aux Moines

While exploring the Golfe du Morbihan by boat, we stopped off at Ile aux Moines. An essential visit in my opinion, try to stay there for more than an hour as it’s really beautiful!

Ile aux Moines is nicknamed the “pearl of the Golfe du Morbihan”. In addition to its undeniable charm, it offers some very nice scenery, with its fine sandy beaches, lush green coastal paths and secluded little coves. It’s a real haven of peace, ideal for a quiet getaway, but above all, you have to explore the village, with its authentically Breton cobbled streets, stone houses and flower-filled gardens.

I loved getting lost here (a little too much, given that we missed the boat on the way back) and unfortunately didn’t enjoy it enough.

Finally, Ile aux Moines has a rich history and megalithic remains. You can discover sites such as the Pointe du Blair or the Tumulus de Gavrinis.

cobbled street island ile aux moines morbihan Brittany
street ile aux moines morbihan brittany
Ile aux moines Brittany Golfe Morbihan Monk Island

Stroll around the Port de Saint Goustan in Auray

A really nice surprise! It wasn’t on the agenda at all, but someone at the Carnac market (a windbreaker salesman, if I remember correctly) advised us to go there, especially as it’s really not far.

Auray itself isn’t exceptional, but its little port of Saint Goustan has a charm all of its own. It’s very small, but with its narrow cobbled streets and medieval houses, it’s a real postcard. It exudes Breton authenticity, and even if the quays have seen the arrival of the crêperies (which are quite good, by the way!), it’s a pleasure to stroll around.

But really, the best part was getting lost in the tiny cobbled streets, between the half-timbered houses, which exude Breton history. It’s really not that big, but you can also (mostly, in fact) see the village from the fortress opposite, on the other side of the river. It’s a great view! So count on a late afternoon, a quiet little visit, and dinner on the spot, it’s very pleasant 🙂

harbour Saint Goustan Brittany Auray Carnac
harbour Saint Goustan Brittany Auray Carnac
Street Saint Goustan Brittany Auray
harbour Saint Goustan Brittany Auray
Street Saint Goustan Brittany Auray

The wild coast of Quiberon

I’d never set foot on the Quiberon peninsula. So we took the opportunity to do a little exploring, but I’d been advised to do the “côte sauvage”, i.e. the wild road along the west coast. Steep cliffs, a raw, magnificent coastline.

Every sunset is different, and the main viewpoints along the Côte Sauvage are breathtaking. At Port Bara, you can admire the crashing waves and feel the sea breeze. Pointe du Percho offers a panoramic view of the ocean, with its impressive rock formations.

The Trou du Souffleur is a fascinating place where waves rush into a cavity, creating an impressive natural spectacle.

Quiberon itself is nice, with pretty beaches on the other side and a pleasant, lively town center. There are also several thalasso centers.

sunset wild coast quiberon Brittany
beach quiberon brittany morbihan
sunset wild coast quiberon Brittany
quiberon morbihan brittany

The surprising megaliths of Locmariaquer

The Locmariaquer megaliths are an impressive group of prehistoric monuments dating back to the Neolithic era. Three major monuments make up this site:

  • La Table des Marchands [The Merchants’ Table ]: This is a granite slab measuring around 6.5 metres long and 4.5 metres wide. It rests on vertical stones and was probably used for religious or funerary rites.
  • Le Grand Menhir Brisé: the tallest menhir in Europe, measuring almost 20 metres in height. Over time, however, it broke into four pieces. The largest fragment, still in place, measures around 6.5 metres.
  • Tumulus d’Er Grah: A tumulus almost 140 metres long, which once housed a covered walkway. Excavations have revealed funerary objects, testifying to the importance of this site in the ritual practices of the time.

These megaliths are of major historical importance. They bear witness to the architectural know-how and social organization of Neolithic communities. The exact significance of these structures remains a mystery, but it is thought that they were linked to funerary, religious or astronomical rites.

Of course, a visit to the Locmariaquer megaliths is a unique immersion in the past, allowing visitors to contemplate astonishing architectural achievements dating back thousands of years. You’ll be able to ask yourself questions about the beliefs and practices of ancient populations, and I’d recommend a visit to see the engraved megaliths and artefacts. There are many megalithic sites in the region, but this one really has the advantage of being complete, with 3 elements: the tumulus, the merchants’ table and the enormous menhir. Pay attention to the timetable, which varies a lot(you can find it here), and the price is 6€.

megaliths locmariaquer table marchands brittany carnac

Other must-haves

I don’t mention them specifically in this article because they’re places I haven’t had time to visit. But when I asked around, I had noted them as indispensable, or almost! Except that it would have taken many more days to discover them. So I’m forced to come back, damn it!

  • Vannes, a very pretty medieval town. Fortified with a historic center of cobbled streets and old buildings, this town has a lot of charm!
  • From Carnac, you can easily reach several famous islands: Belle Ile, perhaps the best-known of the Breton islands. The island of Houat was highly recommended and the island of Hoedic.
  • The village of Saint Cado and its tiny island, but also its shuttered house on its own islet. Super photogenic

4 recommended accommodations in Carnac

Carnac appartement petit écureuil louer vacances
  • Small, practical studio
  • 2 blocks from the beach
  • From €66
Carnac Clos Saint Aubin logement pas cher
  • Cosy and comfortable gite
  • Quiet location
  • From €104
Carnac Celtic Spa hotel
  • One of the best in Carnac
  • Spa and comfort
  • From €123
Spa Diana hotel Carnac
  • Right on the beach!
  • Super comfortable
  • From €110

Essential information for visiting Carnac

How long to stay in Carnac

Well, it depends (otherwise it’s too easy). Carnac is an ideal base for a number of reasons:

  • a long weekend, at least 3 days on site otherwise it can be a lot of kilometers for little time on site, which allows you to discover the surroundings a little and to want to come back afterwards
  • a week to discover the surrounding area and the Morbihan, frankly it’s great! We’re close to everything, and there’s enough to see in the area not to get bored!
Street Carnac old city brittany

When to come to Carnac

I was there for the weekend of August 15 and it was very nice. Of course, summer (June to September) is great. But I find that Carnac, like Brittany in fact, is also great for the big May bank holidays. As it’s a little further away, there are fewer Parisians than during the summer vacations. From November to February, you can expect more rain and wind, but the Gulf of Morbihan benefits from a kind of micro-climate that makes life pleasant all the time, and it’s much less subject to heavy rain and storms than northern Brittany (like St Malo or Perros Guirec).

Where to stay in Carnac

Well, as it’s a very touristy destination, there are quite a few options. But it’s a wealthy destination, and prices are relatively high, even in the off-season. There’s quite a lot of private accommodation, but it varies a lot. There are also quite a few apartments, hotels and residences. You have two options: you can be in the center of the town, which is nice and quite lively. Or you can be by the beach. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but it’s easy to get from one to the other, in about 40 minutes on foot. In the town center :

  • Hôtel les Alignements, very decent both in terms of quality and price. Not exceptional, but more than adequate. Between €70 and €100 per day
  • A lovely, spacious 65m² apartment for 130€.
  • To pamper yourself, the Spa du Tumulus hotel, in a superb estate. And really cheap in low season, from 90€!

By the beach :

  • Hôtel la Licorne, excellent value for money and very well located, from 74€.
  • The 40m² apartment “Les Horizons” right on the seafront, from 120€.
  • For a little indulgence without breaking the bank, the Diana spa hotel, from 120€.

How to get to Carnac

Good news! You can get there by train. There’s a TGV station in Auray. By Ouigo, from Paris, it takes 3h30 and costs from 19€. Once in Auray, there’s a TER that takes 30min to get to Carnac station. The problem is that there are only 3 or 4 trains a day. The ticket costs just €2.50. Alternatively, by car, from Paris it’s not really nearby. It’s 500km, so about 5 hours. But it’s a good drive. You’ll have to allow a little more than €30 for tolls

Some of Carnac’s restaurants

There’s quite a lot to choose from, but as in any self-respecting tourist spot, you have to be selective.

  • the Bisetro, good atmosphere, they’re very friendly, very good food
  • for crêpes in the town center, go to Chez Marie. As you have to book in high season, we were never able to get in – it was always too crowded, too bad!
  • for local gastro cuisine, there’s Itsasoa
  • it’s said that the best value restaurant is Chez Auguste, which makes crêpes but not only crêpes
  • finally, to eat by the beach, we went to La Sultana, and frankly we ate very well without it being excessive.
stop andouilles carnac bretagne

In conclusion

That’s it! I think I’ve told you almost everything about Carnac. At least everything I know, everything I’ve enjoyed. It’s a great place, full of history, that we’ll discover for its megaliths, but fortunately not only that. It’s an ideal base for exploring the region, whether for a long weekend or longer. Or if you’re looking for a place to laze around and relax, it’s just as suitable, with its beaches and temperate climate, all just a few minutes from the Gulf of Morbihan.

Some articles about Brittany

I’m currently discovering more and more Brittany, and of course writing more useful content.

My favorite place in Brittany is around Perros Guirec and the Pink Granit Coast, beautiful rocks, cliffs, great food and incredible beaches.

Right on the east, you can find another beautiful coast, the Emerald Coast of Brittany, with really beautiful villages, towns, crystal clear water. Including the impressive city of Saint Malo !

Most of these places are located in the beautiful Côtes d’Armor district, you can easily spend a week or two there !

Even if it’s not fully in Brittany, I’m also writing more and more about a french wonder. Where to sleep around Mont Saint Michel, and how to go there by train or bus.

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