|August 25 Carnac and Josselin Market
Grammar got up early. She went around the corner to the local artisan baker and had a cup of coffee and a croissant in front of the shop. She read the local paper and finished a drawing started yesterday from the same spot. And, of course, she chatted with many of the people who came for bread
In the morning we hunted down the weekly market in Josselin. We got some yummy local produce for our meals. It is always fun to see what is in season in an area. Artichokes - huge ones - were the best find. (The artichokes were so big that Grammar could not eat all of hers in one meal! Barb was stronger and she managed to finish hers.)
After that, we set out with great anticipation for Carnac. It is the largest aggregation of megalithic stones in the world. There are over 3000 features that are set out in three major alignments. The Allignement de Menac alone has 1099 menhirs ( standing stones). These stones predate Stonehenge in England by 100 years, having been erected between 5000 and 3500 BC.
In the main tourist season, individuals are not allowed to wander willy nilly among the stones due to severe erosion of the vegetation; so we took a tour of one area with an enthusiastic and thoughtful guide. There are lots of unanswered questions and only some educated guesses:
When - 5000 to 3500 BC
Why - ceremonial? religious?
The features seem to have been erected during the Neolithic period when people started living more sedentary lives, growing food and working together in larger groups than earlier hunter/ gatherers. The " how" boggles the mind because some of the stones weigh 300 tons. The stone is not local and the wheel had yet to be invented.
We saw several different features: dolmens, which are large table-like structures; rows of large menhirs; HUGE single menhirs; graves; and tumen.
Despite the significance of the site, it does not appear to be a World Heritage Site. An application for World Heritage status was made in 1996 but has never been approved. Our Google search suggests that either the French government has not pushed hard enough for the designation or that the site is being very poorly managed and cannot therefore gain World Heritage status.