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Tips For Visiting the Carnac Standing Stones With a Megalithic Pass

Brittany, that peninsula in north-west France that juts out into the Atlantic with its distinctive cultural history, has the largest concentration of megalithic stones in Europe. Here you will find the World’s tallest menhir, the most extensive stone alignments, the biggest dolmen, and the largest megalithic cairn. And, within the region, it is the southern coastline, the peninsulas and islands in and around the Gulf of Morbihan, that has the unparalleled diversity of megalithic sites.

Ile Aux Moines Brittany
A typical seaside village in southern Brittany at low tide.

Diversity of Megalithic Sites in the Carnac Area

Megalithic Pass Carnac

Megalithic Pass – Pass des Mégalithes

Where to Start?

Sites & Museums in the Megalithic Pass

Carnac Prehistory Museum

The Musée de Préhistoire de Carnac is housed in an old rectory with a collection of over 7,000 artefacts from many of the megalithic sites in the area – one of the richest museums for megalithic culture. A handful of display that deal with the various aspects of everyday life, but the museum has a greater focus on the development and significance of funerary architecture, from the early dolmens to the later, more complex passage tombs. A few galleries explore the Iron Age and Roman  periods.

Maison des Mégaliths, Carnac

Besides serving as an information point and a ticket office for guided tours of the Carnac stone alignments, the Maison des Mégalithes also has a series of exhibitions outlining the history and understanding of the megalithic tradition in southern Brittany. The viewing platform on top of the building is a viewing platform that gives a better view of the alignments than you will get at the fence.

Carnac Stone Alignments

The different series of stone alignments to the north of Carnac are made up of over 3,000 individual standing stones – they are the largest concentration of megaliths in the World. Thought to have been erected between 7,000 and 4,000 years ago, the lines of standing stones cover a distance of about four kilometres in total. Although now fenced off, guided tours of certain sections of the stones are available that enable visitors to walk among the stones. These guided tours are highly recommended.

Gavrinis Passage Tomb

The stone cairn with its decorated passage tomb is not only one of the more spectacular Neolithic sites in the Morbihan area, it is also a great day out for the whole family. Today, because of the rise of sea levels since it was built, the cairn is now on a small island, and the only means of getting there is a short ferry ride from the nearby coastal fishing village of Lamor-Baden. Once on the privately owned island a guided tour enables access to the decorated passage tomb.

Petit Mont Chambered Tomb & WWII Bunker

The cairn of Petit Mont is thought to be one of the most significant chambered tombs in Brittany. Although this is for all intents and purposes a ‘Neolithic site’, from about 6,600 years ago, it is an excellent example of how monuments constructed in one period are re-used in subsequent periods. Artefacts recovered during excavations show that this site was also in use during the Bronze Age and the Gallo-Roman period. But the most obvious evidence of re-use is the typical German bunker built into the cairn in 1943.

Megalithic Sites of Locmariaquer

There are a number of megalithic sites in the seaside town of Locmariaquer. The main site open to the public is an intriguing cluster of different megalithic structures. This includes the tumulus of Er-Grah, the Tables des Marchands Cairn, and a enormous broken menhir – which is thought to be the biggest prehistoric stone stele in Europe. Not to be missed is the large, decorated megalith inside the cairn, which is open to the public. The Visitor Center has a very informative short documentary about the megalithic tradition in the area.

Archaeology Travel Writer

Thomas Dowson

With a professional background in archaeology and a passion for travel, I founded Archaeology Travel to help more people explore our world’s fascinating pasts. Born in Zambia, I trained as an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) and taught archaeology at the universities of Southampton and Manchester (England). Read More

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