Carnac

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Carnac
Karnag
Standing stones in the Kermario alignment
Standing stones in the Kermario alignment
Carnac is located in France
Carnac
Carnac
Coordinates: 47°35′05″N 3°04′46″W / 47.5847°N 3.0794°W / 47.5847; -3.0794Coordinates: 47°35′05″N 3°04′46″W / 47.5847°N 3.0794°W / 47.5847; -3.0794
Country France
Region Brittany
Department Morbihan
Arrondissement Lorient
Canton Quiberon
Intercommunality Côte des Mégalithes
Government
 • Mayor (2008—2014) Michel Grall
Area
 • Land1 32.71 km2 (12.63 sq mi)
Population (1999)
 • Population2 4,444
 • Population2 density 140/km2 (350/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 56034 / 56340
Elevation 0–45 m (0–148 ft)
(avg. 16 m or 52 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Carnac (Breton: Karnag) is a commune beside the Gulf of Morbihan on the south coast of Brittany in the Morbihan department in north-western France.

Its inhabitants are called Carnacois. Carnac is renowned for the Carnac stones – one of the most extensive Neolithic menhir collections in the world – as well as its beaches, which are popular with tourists.

Located on a narrow peninsula halfway between the medieval town Vannes and the seaside resort Quiberon, Carnac is split into two centres - Carnac-Ville and Carnac-Plage (the beachfront). In total there are five beaches, including la Grande Plage, and further to the east, Plage Men Dû and Beaumer.

Standing stones[edit]

Stones in the Menec alignment

Carnac is famous as the site of more than 10,000 Neolithic standing stones, also known as menhirs. The stones were hewn from local rock and erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany. Local tradition claims that the reason they stand in such perfectly straight lines is that they are a Roman legion turned to stone by Merlin (Brittany has its own local versions of the Arthurian cycle).

The Carnac stones were erected during the Neolithic period which lasted from around 4500 BC until 2000 BC. The precise date of the stones is difficult to ascertain as little dateable material has been found beneath them, but the site's main phase of activity is commonly attributed to c. 3300 BC. One interpretation of the site is that successive generations visited the site to erect a stone in honour of their ancestors.

History[edit]

Tumulus of Saint-Michel

In 1864, La Trinité-sur-Mer and its port were separated from the commune to create their own commune and parish. The fishermen found the church in Saint-Cornély to be too far from the port, and had one built in a more convenient location. La Trinité-sur-Mer thus became both a parish and a separate commune.

In 1903, a seaside resort was created on the old salt flats, developing extensively through the 1950s to create the split Carnac of today: Carnac-ville and Carnac-plage. In 1974, a renowned hydrotherapy centre was sponsored by champion cyclist Louison Bobet, retiring after having won the Tour de France three times from 1953 to 1955.

Tourism[edit]

View of the Quiberon Bay from one of the Carnac beaches.

Since the end of World War II, Carnac has become a popular site for tourists seeking a break from the traditional destinations on the Côte d'Azur. During the months of July and August, the number of people in the town swells from the influx of tourists and summer home residents. The beaches of Brittany are rarely able to offer warm waters on par with those of their southern cousins; however local factors have ensured that Carnac continues to be a touristic boom town. Wind and waves in the region attract day and cruise sailors. The Standing Stones and other monuments in the vicinity provide a modest degree of cultural attraction while Carnac-Plage's variety of bars and clubs ensures that a younger set can amuse themselves at night.

There are a number of camping grounds in the woods around Carnac, some clustered around various lakes such as the Étang du moulin du lac which is immediately to the west of the river Crac'h.

Carnac is home to "École de Voile de Carnac" which provides sailing and windsurfing lessons and rentals to sailors of all experience levels. The geography of the Bay of Quiberon provides ideal conditions for sailing. The Peninsula of Quiberon provides protection from Atlantic waves and turbulence while allowing the Gulf Winds to enter the bay.

For windsurfers, the Saint-Colomban beach is located in Carnac-Plage. The beach is very popular with windsurfers, as its position allows for the best exploitation of strong winds from the West. Other beaches in the area provide equal access to the winds of the bay but windsurfers may find themselves frustrated the areas of dead air close to their shores.

A local myth holds that a unicorn lives in the waters off the city and in a cave near St. Malo.

Neighboring communes[edit]

Carnac is connected to La Trinité-sur-Mer to the east by road and by a shared pedestrian/bike path along the beach. The other neighbouring communes are Crac'h, Erdeven, Ploemel and Plouharnel.

Demographics[edit]

Inhabitants of Carnac are called Carnacois.

As of the census of 1999, the town has a population of 4,444.

Breton language[edit]

The municipality recently launched a linguistic plan and signed a document to encourage and facilitate the translation of municipal documents and news materials into the Breton language.[1]

In 2009, 11,03% of children attended bilingual schools in primary education.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Carnac: Guide pratique 2006 (provided by Carnac tourist office)

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]