Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Visiting the Megaliths in Southern Brittany

Brittany is known for many things: incredible desserts (and I'm thinking of Paris-Brest here), wonderful food (crepes and galette come to mind), and some of the world's most extensive megalith formations. Thousands of stones arranged in passage graves, tumulus mounds and the incredible alignments found in Carnac, where we stayed in early January of 2011.

So, if you've decided on a megalith tour of the Morbihan (or anywhere else in Brittany for that matter), here are a few general things to consider:
  • Before visiting read up on the history, layout etc., of the various major megalithic sites. (Most good guidebooks have handy little historical sections for just that purpose.)
  • If at all possible, visit the archeological museum in Vannes before visiting any of the sites.
  • At the very least stop in at the Maison des Megalithes visitor center across from the Menec alignments.
  • Use a good detailed map, especially if you're going to be walking any distance. Signage is generally good at many of the megalith locations but getting from one place to another can be a bit of a challenge. Do not expect to get any detailed maps at the visitor center, although you can find a good general guide map at the Maison des Megalithes in Carnac.
  • Because there are so many sites, and they do vary in size, scope, location and importance, plan your itinerary carefully before heading off, and stick to it. I would also recommend you include your lunch stop as well.
  • Remember you're often crossing and crisscrossing private property so always be on the lookout for propriété privée signs or anything that says interdit (prohibited).
  • Many sites are located next to or along roads so do be aware of traffic.
  • Always park your vehicle in designated parking or areas or any pull-off that is clearly intended for parking. Do not park in the road and certainly not in someone's driveway.
And a few specific items you might want to have along:
  • Comfortable and heavy duty walking shoes or boots.
  • Flashlight/torch.
  • If your camera allows it, bring an external flash for inside the passage graves and tumulus mounds.
  • Bottled water.
  • Remember you're in rural Brittany and facilities and conveniences are scarce.
Bon voyage!

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