I went to a town called Carnac over the holidays, and I’m in love.

This is me trying to take a casual selfie with a megalith and failing because I am so excited.
This is me trying to take a casual selfie with a megalith and failing because I am so excited.

I really really love old things. A lot a lot. So, Carnac is the perfect place for me.

There are more than 3,000 standing stones erected by pre-celtic peoples, some as long ago as 4500 BC (Thanks, Wikipedia) in Carnac, a town on the coast of Brittany, in France.

There you go. That’s more helpful.
There you go. That’s more helpful.








It’s the largest collection of alignments in the world. (Suck it, Stonehenge.) The megaliths are rows and rows of meticulously placed stones, leading me to believe that those proto-celts probably suffered from an obsessive stone-aligning disorder. The other possibility (thanks again, Wikipedia) according to Christian myth, is that they are pagan soldiers turned to stone for chasing after Pope Cornelius. Or Merlin did it to the Romans. You tell me which theory seems more credible: Celtic OCD or magical transformation. The tourist pamphlet hypothesizes that they “could have served as ceremonial places.” To which I say, obviously, but what kind? It’s pretty much science and anthropology’s polite way of saying they have no freaking idea what they were for.

Sheep lawnmowers sleeping in a field in Carnac, France.
The lawnmowers are clearly slacking—sleeping on the job!

There are alignments, dolmens, tumulus, and they’re all amazing. The main concentration of alignments runs along one road, which is a little ways from the city center (distances? You want exact distances?) or 1.3 km from the city center, which, according to Google Maps, is a 15 minute walk.

I don’t know myself, because my roommate and I rented bikes and took a road along the coast before turning up to the road of alignments. The bike rental shop is less than a block away from the Office of Tourism, which is itself located right across the street from the bus stop if you arrive from Auray (more below).

I highly recommend renting bikes, because the road is a heck of a lot longer than it looks on the map from the visitor’s center.

To walk down the length of the road from the visitor’s center and back is around 10 km. This is what we did, despite the fact that we rented bicycles, because map scales are hard.

The walk started out with us gasping and exclaiming at each standing stone. “So amazing!” We said.

carnac standing stones in a field in France
There are so many of them!

And ended with us cursing every rock we passed.

carnac standing stones in a field in France
They’re clearly taunting me.

We started out at the first site, thinking, “Oh, it’s not so far. I can see the next site from here!” Five sites later, on foot, in unsupportive shoes, we were more than a little tired.

I am beaming. This is the place for me.
I am beaming.

But the stones were so impressive and amazing, especially if you are a prehistoric megalithic nerd, like me (a very specific type of nerd), that I will absolutely be back. I also was too done in to go to the prehistory museum, so there’s that for next time as well.

I remember the tumulus the most—earth-covered tombs with entrances in the side of the manmade hill. The amazing thing about Carnac is that visitor s are allowed to wander in and out and around without restriction.

A view of a dark passageway inside a tumulu, looking toward the bright entrance undergroud

At the end of our unintended hike, we were about ready to collapse, but we wanted to make use of our bikes a bit more, so we biked through town and down to the coast. There’s a lovely bike path along the water that leads right back to the bike rental shop.

A view of the sea from Carnac, France, with boat beached in the tidal flats.

If you are in the very particular circumstances of going from Lorient to Carnac, the train from Lorient to Auray is only about €5 each way. If not, here’s the cost breakdown from Auray:

€2 bus (TIM bus from the train station)

Free map and directions from the Office of Tourism 

€10 bike rental, all day

€3 lunch if you restrain yourself and don’t buy a pastry. But let’s be honest, who does that?

€2 coffee while waiting for the return bus

€2 return TIM bus


Total: €19

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