At 8am, I opened my eyes and looked out the huge windows. I could see nothing but what appeared to be, milk. I figured it was cloudy and the angle I was lying meant I was looking straight up into the sky. Getting out of bed made no difference. It was fog. Good and thick. I could just see the fishing cages across the road but of the river, there was nothing. Oh, great, I thought, the perfect day to go wandering around prehistoric boulder alignments. I needn’t have despaired. By the time we had breakfast (about 9), it had all gone and the skies were bright azure and the sun was starting to beat down.
We seem to be doing something right on this trip. We are always one step ahead of everyone else. This means we get breakfast straight away, we see the stones straight away, we find parking easily, we get served beer quickly, etc. It’s like we’re ten minutes ahead of the crowds. This is a GOOD thing although quite accidental.
Anyway, we set off for the Carnac alignments, which are not very far from where we are staying on the outskirts of St Philibert. They are a series of stones, erected in lines around 6,000 years ago. No-one knows why. Most people, flaying around for a reason, claim it is religious. I expounded the theory that they represented the dead like gravestones do now but without the body. When we bought a guide book it appears that in the 1950s children would sing a song saying pretty much the same thing. In fact, these cheery rustic children would wait by the stones for the tourists and then force them to listen to their song about the dead. Reminds me of the Christmas carol singers of Haslemere.
There are three main sites and we visited all three. You can’t walk amongst the stones any more because of the erosion caused by all the feet but you can get pretty close. They do have guided tours where you can get close to them but they are rarely in English. In fact, the next one is in a weeks time. So we just wandered around. Back at the apartment, it occurred to me that we could have easily gone on a French tour and ignored the guide, just to get up close and personal to the stones.
Legend has it (there’s quite a few legends, actually, but I quite like this one) that St Cornelius hid in an ox’s ear from a load of Roman soldiers and, to thank the ox, created an ox cult. The only link with the stones is the legend that he turned a bunch of pagans into stones as he was escaping and also that some have been found with the image of oxen carved into them – the stones not the pagans. I love these strange stories. I particularly love the fact that god said we should not worship anything except him and then this Cornelius guy (who became pope in the 3rd century) decides it’s ok to start worshipping cows. The Roman Mithras cult was a soldier’s cult of the bull…that seems awfully familiar. And how big was the ox for this guy to be able to hide in it’s ear, anyway?
But, back to the real world…I do wonder why people want to touch these things. It’s the same at Stonehenge. Are they expecting some sort of transference from the ancients? And, if so, transference of what? A closeness to nature we no longer have? Or how to sacrifice a goat to the great god Baal? I don’t know. Although I’ll admit that I like touching them too, but have no idea why.
As the crowds gathered, we climbed into our little French car and headed off to the beach. The coastal part of Carnac is called Carnac Sur Plage and the Grande Plage is grande indeed. A lovely sweeping expanse of white sand with a few isolated dots soaking up the sun. We had a quick drink in a bar and then wandered barefoot along the edge. The water was quite cold at first but was soon refreshing our toes.
We walked into a small street of beach side shops which were, strangely, not beside the beach – that’s where the houses are which seems far more sensible – and settled on La Bolero for lunch. We sat beneath the shade of the orange cover and watched the world walk by. It was lovely.
After lunch I bought a pair of white trousers which I tried to find in Farnham but was unable to, and then we wandered back to the car. It was then back to the apartment for a wee siesta. Nothing quite like sleeping through the hottest part of the day.
We woke and went looking for a beach for a bit of an evening swim. We found a lovely little beach back around towards Carnac called Met du. We settled down on the sand then realised that the tide was going out. The water was up to your knees as far as the eye could see. About a mile out to sea, people were bending down picking up mussels. It was quite odd. Still, unperturbed, Mirinda went for a swim. She actually went for a snorkel without a snorkel, or so she said.
It was all very refreshing and, alarmingly, the tide continued to go out as I sat on the sand watching for the return of my wife. As she didn’t have her glasses she managed to get completely disorientated and was wandering in the wrong direction before I managed to rescue her.
Back at the apartment, we sat around with the other guests (all English and two of them from Farnham!) and had a drink and a chat before setting off for dinner. Being a simple soul, I took just a big wodge of cash, which proved insufficient for the restaurant Mirinda decided on. We had to eat a bit more down market than we had anticipated. Still, the pizza with 15 types of cheese was interesting, to say the least. The fact that the dessert menu was offered then not brought over was annoying, particularly when they started putting them away for the night. We assumed that what the waitress had said, rather than “Would you like to see the dessert menu” to which Mirinda answered “Oui”, was “Do you understand, we must put the desserts to bed?” to which Mirinda still answered “Oui”.
We wandered for a bit, enjoying another ice cream from the ice cream place then back to the apartment to a beautiful sunset staining the river scarlet and purple. Joy.