Somehow the fact that Brittany appears to be a megalithic hotspot had evaded our notice until our first visit in November 2010. We stayed in Vannes in southern Morbihan and our research uncovered the fact that the huge megalithic site of Carnac was nearby. Unfortunately we were so busy viewing houses we never made it to the this fascinating place but it went on our list of must sees for the future.
A car park in the middle of nowhere seemed like a good place for a coffee (and an obligatory patisserie of course!).
Naturally our attention was drawn to a sign which we were delighted to discover indicated we were within a short hop skip and a jump of a standing stone - happy days!
As you can see it dwarfs me at 4.7m. It is known as the 'Guardian of Locarn' and you can see why!
Dating from 4500 BC, the structure is known for its wealth of engraved symbols.
The vast construction, made entirely from piled stones, comprises eleven funeral chambers which are connected by galleries.
The monument was discovered in 1807 but it remained unprotected and was used as a quarry for paving stones until the 1950s! Finally locals took action and it was restored between 1954 and 1968. There is now an exhibition on the site which displays objects found on the site.
The cairn can be found on the eastern side the bay of Morlaix on the Kernéléhén peninsula near Plouezoc'h. Unfortunately it is closed on Mondays in Winter so we added it to our list of must see sights for the future.
Groups of stones are usually aligned in rows in Brittany, unlike in the UK and Ireland where they are normally formed into circles.
The Guide to the Menhirs and other Megaliths of Central Brittany is an interesting text on the subject which you can download.
You can find comprehensive lists of megalithic sites in Finistère here and here.
These are an intriguing arrangement of stones, mostly consisting of large white quartz blocks on open common land lying just to the west of Camaret-sur-Mer.
There are 143 menhirs arranged in three lines which are aligned with the sunrise of the winter solstice. There are some outliers and the largest stands at around 2.5m.
Some stones are barely more than ankle high and many have tipped over, the largest are about as tall as a person.
It is said that these stones were a large and boisterous wedding party. They were just finishing the last dance of the festivities when they were turned to stone by a priest for their impolite treatment of a passing traveller.
To visit the alignment, park at the Ferme-des-Artisans on the D785 near Brasparts, where you can buy produce made by local artisans and also visit the onsite cafe.
Mougau-Bihan can be found near the town of Commana. This large and cavernous ‘allée couverte’ is justifiably one of Brittany’s most famous megalithic sites.
The stones are in good condition and inside there are several carvings, including one that is supposed to be an axe in relief, and another which is perhaps a ‘Mother Goddess’.