Ok, so I’ve delayed posting this evening as I should have but I completely blame the brand new shiny shiny phone that arrived today. Did I mention it’s shiny???
Part 2 of the holiday theme was Megalithic. Brittany is of course awesome for all things megalithic. It has Carnac, to begin with. Actually Carnac pretty much trumps a lot of things, leaving aside the likes of Newgrange and Stonehenge. But anyway… it doesn’t just have Carnac.
I’m starting to form the opinion that the Bretons and their ancestors have something of an unspoken obsession with stones. With stones and the sea. The two seem to go hand in hand. All along the shore line at Point de la Torche, and on the rocky outcrops of Pointe de Raz in previous years, we found little towers of stones. Everyone builds one. No one could offer us a reason why. Just because, I suppose. I wonder if there’s something in the air, something that makes one want to leave their own mark. I’m also starting to wonder if it’s something to do with Ankou, the Breton personification of Death, who leaves stones behind when he takes the dead away. (Ah yes, hello plotbunnies, there you are again).
I did mention there’s a Brittany book, didn’t I? 🙂
On the first day of our holiday we went to La Roche aux Fées (or the Fairy Rock) at Essé, a passage grave, uncovered for centuries, which looks like a giant table. Like Newgrange, the chamber is aligned with the rising sun of the winter solstice. I love the picture of the beech tree growing around the massive stones at the base. Nature always finds a way. And as we meandered through many tourists, took photos and gadded about in general, we found more piles of stones, balanced daintily on the gnarly trunk of the old beach tree by the entrance.
Carnac is a strangely peaceful place, especially considering the number of people it attracts. During the summer the alignments themselves are closed off, though you can see them clearly enough from behind the low, drystone walls (perfectly balanced and built by hand). The area becomes a wildflower and wildlife preserve. In winter one can book tours which allow you inside. There’s a reason to go back. The site is spread out over several areas, so we didn’t get to see it all. But there is an atmosphere to the place I really wasn’t expecting. It was lovely.
It also helped that near the Ménec alignments we found the most wonderful crêperie, Au Pressior, surrounded by a stone enclosure, where we had the best crêpes ever. No really. Mine had goat’s cheese, honey and nuts. They were perfect. It made our day.
The other thing about Carnac that the photos can’t capture are the colours — the stones themselves, the plants and flowers (purple, white and yellow like gold in the sunlight). The difference in the textures, the constant movement of butterflies and long grasses. And all so peaceful (except for my children playing Harry Potter and giving me story ideas, loudly!) We also found a stone at Carnac that appears to have a face of it’s own. (More plotbunnies – the kids helped with that one!)
Out to the far west, La Torche itself, the huge rock outcrop on the point in the shape of (you guessed it) a torch, is dramatic enough to feature in any number of stories. Believe me, I have ideas.
So anyway, here’s my slideshow of our visits to Megalithic Brittany, old and new!