Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Mysterious Alignments of Carnac

Pages from Jan's Travel Journal: Monday, March 7, 2011

No fair! I awoke with a migraine. What a rough start to the day. I was very glad to have some decent medication. While I waited for the meds to kick in, Craig and Darcy walked over to a nearby bakery and returned with wonderful pastries for breakfast. Darcy and I shared a couple of beignets - one chocolate, one raspberry - and they were a delight. Craig had his usual apple pastry, which he said was exceptionally good. We took our time getting ready for the day, and it was mid-morning before we finally left the hotel.

We set out on the nearly two-mile walk to the site of the Alignments of Carnac. It was another gorgeous, sunny day, though a bit brisk at first. The standing stones were simply astonishing. Even after thousands of years, they are still shrouded in mystery. Thousands of the megaliths stand in rows, as if they are marching down to the sea. There is a legend that these are Roman soldiers turned to stone by Merlin. Since it was early in the season, we understood that we could actually have entry into the fenced area which encircles the menhirs. All we needed to do was locate the gates marked with small flags. We were never able to find those special entrances, but that did not stop us from enjoying the spectacular views of the ancient stones. They are definitely awe-inspiring.

The Alignments of Carnac, Brittany, France. Definitely worth a visit.

Many of the boulders are over 10 feet tall.

We found the visitors center to be very interesting. There we learned the theory of how the enormous boulders that make up the Alignments might have been put into place.There was also a large map that detailed the layout of the megaliths, which are a prominent feature of the landscape for miles. We witnessed a strange sight as we were coming out of the gift shop. It was a long column of fuzzy caterpillars, crawling nose-to-tail across the parking lot. It must have been at least 15 feet long where it disappeared into the grass. I later learned that this type of caterpillar can cause a burning rash if handled. Oh, and I just love the French word for caterpillar. It's chenille!

A long line of chenilles.

After a time, we were becoming hungry and a bit tired. We had seen signs for a creperie up ahead, but were disappointed to find that it was closed. We walked back into town and purchased some sandwiches made with fresh baguettes from the bakery across the square. They were wonderful. And so was my dessert of a delightful coffee eclair! We played cards in our hotel room for a while after lunch. We had brought "Pit" from home, which Darcy was unfamiliar with, and she really enjoyed it, so we gave her the game to keep.

For dinner that evening, we had planned to go out for pizza. We arrived at the restaurant only to discover that it was closed. We had seen another pizzeria around the corner, but soon found that it was closed as well. We began to walk the picturesque, cobblestone streets in search of any open restaurant, and finally found a tiny brasserie that looked promising. It was a charming little place, very narrow, with just a few small tables and a little bar. There was jazz playing softly. The menu was small, but we made our selections of grilled duck breast for Darcy and filet from Normandy for Craig and myself, which the waiter assured us was sublime. The beef was served with a tasty green-peppercorn sauce, fried potatoes, and an interesting salad with a horseradish dressing. We also enjoyed some wine with our meal. It was indeed a delicious and memorable feast. Tuesday, we would leave Carnac, but it had been a treat to visit this delightful seaside village.

A farm cart in a field near Carnac, France.

Travel Tip: Keep a travel journal, even if all you have time for is a brief outline of what you have seen and done. It will help jog your memory later. Jet lag can steal those memories if you don't have a record of them, and photos aren't enough.

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