Carnac, France

Ancient megalithic standing stones in a sea of verdant greenery at Carnac
Ancient megalithic standing stones in a sea of verdant greenery at Carnac


LOCATION On the Atlantic Coast of southern Brittany, Carnac is 88 miles (140 km) from Nantes and 300 miles (500 km) west of Paris

ACCESS Restricted in summer to reduce site erosion

DAYTIME TEMPERATURES Jan: 48°F (9°C); Apr: 55°F (13°C); Jul: 68°F (20°C); Oct: 61°F (16°C)

The mossy-green landscape around the town of Carnac, scattered with thousands of ancient stones, makes this the very picture of the Celtic twilight, although the Neolithic culture that created it predates the Celts. Made from local stone, these mysterious rough-shaped rocks were erected around 4500 BC.

The standing stones (menhirs) are up to 21 ft (6.5 m) tall and some are in rows, such as the Ménec and Kermario alignments. There are also groups of stone slabs known as dolmens, and mounds of earth called tumuli – both burial sites.

The stones were clearly central to the culture and may have had some astrological significance. The Musée de Préhistoire de Carnac tells visitors all there is to know about these enigmatic stones.

Practical Information

Getting There and Around The nearest airports are at Rennes and Nantes. Alternatively, you can take a train from Paris to Auray or Vannes. The stones can be seen along the D196 outside Carnac. There is parking at Kermario.

When to Go In summer, access to the stones is only possible by a guided tour; in winter, the sites are more accessible (but subject to variation).

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