The history of the Brittany region is long and there are many landmarks to remind you of it. One of the more famous ones is the site just north of the city of Carnac – there are some 3.000 Neolithic standing stones, menhirs, and this is considered as the world’s largest collection. The stones can be found over a distance of some 4 km (2.5 miles). You can also find dolmens, tumuli… and what is referred to as the Manio quadrilateral and the menhir, Manio giant.
Not far away you find the city of Auray with its port Saint-Goustan, today rather a marina. Although fairly far from the coastline, this was a quite important port for centuries, until the arrival of the railway. The tide allowed seagoing vessels to arrive … and it was here that Benjamin Franklin landed in 1776 to ask for French aid in the War of Independence.
I visited another landmark, the Suscinio castle. (The name doesn’t sound very local – it’s actually a mixture of a Roman prefix and a Celtic word and means “on the marsh”.) The castle was one of the residences of the Dukes of Brittany with origins from the 13th century, originally meant to be a place of pleasure, close to the coast and surrounded by nice hunting forests. It was later fortified and enlarged. Without going into details here, the castle has of course been involved in all kinds of movements between the Bretons, the French, The Plantagenets, the Lancastrians… During 1471-83 the castle housed Henry Tudor and his friends. Two years later he became the first Tudor King of England, as Henry VII, after having brought an end to the “War of the Roses” by defeating the last Yorkist King. Later abandoned, the castle needed heavy restoration when it was taken over by the Department of Morbihan in 1965. Although the restoration work is not yet finished, the castle has clearly regained the impression of a medieval fortress.