It’s the weekend of “Journées du Patrimoin”e (Heritage Days) when you have the opportunity to visit places that are often out of bounds. This is French idea that dates back to 1991 when it was set up by the Ministry of culture. It means you have access to museums and other places of historical interest.
When we lived in Paris in the 5th district we had ample chance to visit places, such the place where Marie Antoinette was incarcerated before being dragged away to face the guillotine.
Now living in Brittany, we have to sample different experiences. It is true to say that when there are events such as these in Paris, you have to brave long lines of people who have hot on the same idea as you to sample some historic wonderment. However in Brittany you have the luxury of no wait and a big open space. Kind of surreally you can hear the sounds of shotguns blasting away, as hunters go about their business on a Sunday morning, under a beautiful prevailing blue sky.
On my wife’s tip off, we have decided to visit Carnac, which is a short drive for us. More specifically we are visiting the Ménec alignments, which have an expanse of 1,165 by 100 meters, huge granite menhirs aligned in several rows along approximately 4 km.
We first consult a man in the museum, who tells us there areas we can visit and some we can’t. I have to say that the area has been transformed into a bit of a tourist magnate, there is a train that drives you around the local area, full of tourists with their headphones gathering information. Tourism vies with ancient history.
We walk a while and enter a field, which is not only remarkable for its alignment of stones but also for its vegetation. There is a carpet of heather, thorny evergreen shrubs and beautiful wild flowers. Butterflies flutter amongst this incredible greenery. It’s a place of incredible beauty.
There are pilgrims who have come to take in this unusual place that has an undoubted magic about it.
A woman sits cross-legged on a stone, as if trying absorb the energy of the stones, as if she is about to float off to another dimension.
The rocks, were erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany, and are the largest such collection in the world. We can only make wild hypothesis as to the original purpose of these alignments. Some believe their purpose is of some political nature, specifically for the chiefdoms, that it serves as a “royal representational mausoleum,” each stone being representative of one of the leaders of their history. Leave this aside to the historians and just take in the awe inspiring vision of these stones that contain a magic about them.