Friday, October 18, 2013

Bayeux in Normandy

There are a huge number of tours of the D-Day beaches and surrounding area - it was difficult to decide on the right blend of time to give to this, extent of history we wanted to hear, and number of sites to see.
But finally I settled on one that left from Bayeux - a couple of hour train ride from Paris and would allow us to have a few hours in Bayeux and 1/2 day tour. 

There are limited trains to Bayeux so we had to leave very early in the morning. We walked to Gare St Lazare station to catch the 7AM train and changed trains in Caen, about 20 min from Bayeux. We had asked Jacques and Helene to prepare a small box breakfast for us to eat on the train and then dozed much of the way. Sandwiches, cookies and fruits. We weren't even sure what the fruits were but they were good!

After a very early trek to the train station, a little nap was in order.

Bayeux was first a Gall-Roman settlement in the 1st century BC. It was of course destroyed more than once over the years but is a beautiful medieval town.  This is one of the first sights in town coming from the train station and I expect it is well photographed! I know we took a bunch of shots trying to get difficult lighting to work out - so here are a few of them of this old mill.

Bayeux is a major tourist attraction, best known to British and French visitors for the Bayeux tapestry, made to commemorate events in the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. According to the legend, the tapestry was made by Reine (Queen) Mathilde, wife of William the Conqueror.  It is displayed in a museum in the town centre. The large Gothic Cath├ędrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux, consecrated in 1077, was said to be the original home of the tapestry.

After consulting a few maps

We found the tapestry museum

 Bill and Kevin were a little dismayed that Judy and I actually wanted to spend money to go in and look at the tapestry. BUT - there is also a military museum in Bayeux. We decided to split up - Judy and I saw the tapestry and went in the Cathedral and Bill and Kevin went to the military museum - and planned to meet again for lunch. 

Photography was not allowed in the tapestry museum so here is an online picture of a small part of the tapestry. You walk through a darkened long room with audio guide explaining the scenes which are numbered - this also keeps the people moving so its easy to see the whole thing but not take too long...

This is unbelievably long and detailed  - and told the story of William's conquest to an illiterate population.

Ok, here is the military stuff.

The cathedral was quite beautiful and interesting to visit. It has a very interesting history and the Bishop of Bayeux was one of the participants in the battles shown in the tapestry - he went along with William the Conquerer.  Judy and I had time to go inside and walk through it and the crypts. 

Lunch at the Domesday Creperie-Pizzaria turned out to be a very good meal! 
 We wanted to try to remember what we got... let's see if I can do it.

Bill had Cocotte Bouchere du Moment - Pot of the Butcher
a stew of the day I guess - and really good!
Kevin and I had Galette Complete - a pancake with egg, ham and cheese 

Judy had hmm, don't know, but it was also very good. Maybe it was a special of the day?

This restaurant was right down from the Cathedral so I guess we couldn't resist a couple more pictures... just to show you the atmosphere  - and what a GORGEOUS day it was to sit outside almost in the shadow of the cathedral.

 As we were leaving to join our D-Day tour - this caught our eye. A remainder of the old Gallo-Roman wall. The glass (bluish part) supposedly lets you see down in side but with the sun's glare, we really couldn't see any deeper. 

and off to D-Day....

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