Le Ménec

The remains of the Menec cromlech straggle untidily through the village

The remains of the Menec cromlech straggle untidily through the village

Cromlech

The Carnac rows begin at the village of le Ménec which intrudes untidily upon the massive cromlech[1] at the western end with an average diameter of 80m. The villagers might well argue this the other way round, but the stones were there first by a few thousand years... However, all but five of the stones forming the cromlech were re-erected. This is easiest accessed from the Carnac end of the Menec car park by crossing the road and walking into the village via the minor road off the corner

part of the NW section

part of the NW section

part of the NW section

Most people don't seem to bother whith this and simply cross the road to look at the rows of menhirs side-on. But a trip on foot into the village is only a couple of hundred yards and well worth it to see the Cromlech, and the end-on view of the rows.

Whatever you do, don't attempt to drive into the village because - the roads are extremely narrow, there isn't anywhere to stop, you'll rattle the locals and most of all you'll threaten life and limb of those who did choose to walk because of all the blind bends (thank you to the Dutch couple who nearly had me!).

Looking to the east of the cromlech, you see twelve rows of menhirs begin, their lines running across the ground almost as far as you can see

view of the rows on standing stones from the western extremity at the cromlech of Menec

view of the rows of menhirs from Ménec. A QTVR panorama view of this is available here (500k)

view of the rows on standing stones from the western extremity at the cromlech of Menec

I once walked among these, in 1992. When I returned on a business trip in 1998 this area had already been fenced off, and looking at the number of people then and in 2002 compared with 1992 that's probably going to stay that way. C'est la vie - I haven't got any good answers to this problem so I'm just glad I could wander freely in '92. The fence is a green metal grille type which is only chest high so at least it doesn't impede your view of the stones if you are standing. It does detract from the drive-by experience a little, but I have seen worse. Like the six-foot high chain-link perimeter fence at Stonehenge, for instance.

Return to the main road, and you can walk by the fence parallel to the rows for a while, then cross the minor road which cuts the roaws to visit Ménec east, where because of the lie of the land you get a slightly better overview of those rows from the side than Ménec west by the car park.

  1. Note that in a French context cromlech appears to be used for what British readers would think of as a stone circle or other enclosure consisting of standing stones. Unlike UK practice it is not almost synonymous with dolmen