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30 August 2005
The Bagneux dolmen is for sale

The Bagneux Dolmen, at 23 metres (75 feet), is the longest in France and it was classified as a historic monument in the 19th century by Prosper Merimee, the playwright and author who was also state archaeologist. Now Pascal Normand, its actual owner, has decided to sell his 5,000-year-old megalithic tomb, but he is being very choosy about who gets it. "I've got to feel that the buyer has a real passion for the monument, even if he decides not to open it to the public." To sweeten the deal, Normand is throwing in a bar and two apartments on the 2,300-square-metre (half-acre) plot, asking 1.5 million euros (1.8 million dollars) for the lot.
     He is advertising the dolmen on the Internet (www.saumur-dolmen.com), and says that he has already fielded calls from abroad. But so far none have satisfied him. "Like all dolmens, its a funeral chamber, built of local sandstone between 4000 BCE and 2000 BCE," he said. "It is made up of 15 megaliths (huge stone slabs) and weighs at least 500 tonnes."
     Normand says he is letting go of the dolmen reluctantly after having inherited it seven years ago. His great-grandfather bought the land and installed the bar. "The bar was passed down from generation to generation," he said. He shows visitors round the dolmen himself, and has an agreement with the state to open it at least 45 days a year, but the crowds are not rushing in.      
     During the best years, some 9,000 visitors dropped by. Now, that is down to 3,000 a year. "Megaliths dont interest anybody any more in France," Normand said. "Were a long way from the best-known megaliths in their beautiful settings. Here, the town has surrounded the dolmen, although that doesnt take away from its beauty and its historical value." He regrets not having been able to develop the site, with a museum to explain how such tombs were built, saying the local authorities refused to help with the financing. "The least that could be done is building a parking area," he said bitterly, "but no one has ever shown the slightest interest in helping."

Sources: AFP, Yahoo! News (25 August 2005)

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