The standing stones of Carnac are one of Brittany’s greatest attractions. Three fields – Ménec, Kermario and Kerlescan – contain around 3,000 aligned megaliths, which date from 4000BC. The granite stones were erected on the spot where they were dug, hence the differing sizes, although it is not known why they were put up; it is thought they had a religious or cultural significance.
Home of the stones
The best place to start is the Maison des Mégalithes, where you can watch a film in English about the site as well as buy some books in the on-site shop. Since the stones are now fenced off to the public, it’s a good idea to book a guided tour; visits are conducted in English in July and August.
Bringing prehistory to life
A 10-minute walk from Ménec is Carnac-Ville, where you’ll find the Museum of Prehistory, which has one of Europe’s finest collections of prehistoric objects that have been unearthed in the department. In the centre of the village is Église Saint-Cornély, a lovely 17th-century church named after the patron saint of cattle; a pardon takes place here on the second Sunday in September.
Life’s a beach
Carnac-Plage has five sheltered sandy beaches, which are backed by attractive 19th-century villas and pine trees. The 1.2 mile (2km)-long Grande Plage is popular with families as it’s supervised in summer and has two children’s clubs. Légenèse and Ty Bihan are smaller and more pleasant while Saint-Colomban is the place for wind- and kite-surfers. If you don’t want to lie on the beach, take the coastal path to the sailing Mecca of La-Trinité-sur-Mer or book some treatments in the thalassotherapy centre.
Oyster farming has been active in Carnac since the 1880s and it is now a major economic activity for the town. There are around 80 farmers based around the Anse de Pô from whom you can buy shellfish direct.