Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Brittany is the westernmost region of France, it is that large peninsula extending out into the Atlantic Ocean. The region has the greatest concentration of megalithic sites than anywhere else in the world. Rennes has been an important city since Roman times, and while many know of the strikingly walled city of Saint-Malo as a ferry port, some may be surprised to know it boasts the highest concentration of seafood restaurants in Europe. Besides offering up fruits de mer, the ocean has created a very dramatic and scenic coastline. There are four administrative departments in Brittany, they are: Côte-d’Amour, Finistère, Ille-et-Vilaine and Morbihan.

Travel Ideas

Menhirs, Megaliths and Fairies in North Eastern Brittany

North eastern Brittany has a spectacular medieval heritage, with a handful of towns that have retained a Middle Age charm. This area also has much older megalithic sites that really should not be overlooked, as they often are for the greater concentration of Megalithic sites of southern Brittany. Here on the border of Brittany and Normandy, and within reach of many other well known attractions, is an interesting collection of megalithic sites, including one which is said to be the largest of its kind in the World. Associated with these sites are oral traditions that have been handed down for many generations.

Historic Towns in Brittany


Once an important centre for the shoemaking industry, but also well known for its glass-making, the Breton town of Fougères has a number of surviving medieval features that will certainly interest anyone fascinated in this period of France’s past. The imposing, well-preserved castle-fort is said to be the largest of its kind in Europe, while the nearby belfry is the oldest of the remaining three medieval belfries in Brittany.


Vitre is one of a handful of French towns that have best retained a Medieval appearance and charm. Given the well preserved castle-fort, substantial ramparts that surround the old town, and then many characterful medieval streets within the confines of these ramparts, it is easy to see why this is the case. Obviously in a strategic location, the fortified castle and town were part of les Marches de Bretagne – a line of castles that stretched from Mont-Saint-Michel in north to Nantes in the south.

Archaeology & History Sites in Brittany

Carnac Stone Alignments

The different series of stone alignments to the north of Carnac are made up of over 3,000 individual standing stones – they are the largest concentration of megaliths in the World. Thought to have been erected between 7,000 and 4,000 years ago, the lines of standing stones cover a distance of about four kilometres in total. Although now fenced off, guided tours of certain sections of the stones are available that enable visitors to walk among the stones. These guided tours are highly recommended.

Gavrinis Passage Tomb

The stone cairn with its decorated passage tomb is not only one of the more spectacular Neolithic sites in the Morbihan area, it is also a great day out for the whole family. Today, because of the rise of sea levels since it was built, the cairn is now on a small island, and the only means of getting there is a short ferry ride from the nearby coastal fishing village of Lamor-Baden. Once on the privately owned island a guided tour enables access to the decorated passage tomb.

La Roche-aux-Fées

Forty-one enormous stones make up a passage, or covered alley, that is 20 metres in length, four times as long as it is wide. Most archaeologists ad enthusiasts alike accept that this is the largest such megalithic in the World. The dolmen is aligned inn such a way that it catches the rising sun at the winter solstice. The land around it is now a well kept parkland that has a Visitors Centre, which is only open during the summer months

La Table-aux-Fées de Saulnières

This dolmen is on gated and locked private property, and so it is inaccessible to the public. There is nothing much to see anyway, other than two very large stones, one of which is over two metres in length. As with all the other megaliths in the area, these two seemingly abandoned stones feature in local folklore and are thought to have been left by the fairies (fées) when they were taking stones from Saulnières to la Roche-aux-Fées.

Le Petit Mont Chambered Tomb

The Cairn de Petit Mont is thought to be one of the most significant chambered tombs in Brittany. Although this is for all intents and purposes a “neolithic site”, from about 6,600 years ago, it is an excellent example of how sites from one period are re-used in following periods. Artefacts recovered during excavations show that this site was also occupied during the Bronze and Iron Ages. But the most obvious evidence of re-use is the typical German bunker built into the cairn in 1943

Megalithic Sites of Locmariaquer

There are a number of megalithic sites in the seaside town of Locmariaquer. The main site open to the public is an intriguing cluster of different megalithic structures. This includes the tumulus of Er-Grah, the Tables des Marchands Cairn, and a enormous broken menhir – which is thought to be the biggest prehistoric stone stele in Europe. Not to be missed is the large, decorated megalith inside the cairn, which is open to the public. The Visitor Center has a very informative short documentary about the megalithic tradition in the area.

Saint-Michel Tumulus

This spectacular tumulus, measuring 125 metres long, 60 metres wide and 10 meters high, and typical for the Carnac area, was constructed during the Neolithic period on what was already a naturally high point on the landscape. From the top of the tumulus there is an expansive view of the surrounding area. This position is clearly something the local community took advantage of in the later medieval period, when a church was constructed above the tumulus.

Sel-de-Bretagne Menhirs

Two standing stones can be visited on the outskirts of the town of Sel-du-Bretagne, and are in a small field that has been fenced off that can be accessed via a footpath from the town square in the village. These two stones are known locally as les menhirs du Champ de la Pierre et du Champ Horel. According to local folklore these two striking stones were abandoned here by the fairies while they were making the nearby Roche-aux-Fées passage tomb.

Museums & Art Galleries in Brittany

Carnac Prehistory Museum

The Musée de Préhistoire de Carnac is housed in an old rectory with a collection of over 7,000 artefacts from many of the megalithic sites in the area – one of the richest museums for megalithic culture. A handful of display that deal with the various aspects of everyday life, but the museum has a greater focus on the development and significance of funerary architecture, from the early dolmens to the later, more complex passage tombs. A few galleries explore the Iron Age and Roman  periods.

Maison des Mégaliths, Carnac

Besides serving as an information point and a ticket office for guided tours of the Carnac stone alignments, the Maison des Mégalithes also has a series of exhibitions outlining the history and understanding of the megalithic tradition in southern Brittany. The viewing platform on top of the building is a viewing platform that gives a better view of the alignments than you will get at the fence.