Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bayeux and the Tapestry

Bayeux on our way to the English Channel was a "Must Stop" for Sue. As a child she was aware of the Bayeux Tapestry and it was on her list. Leaving Alencon, we decided it was a motorway, get there quick drive to Bayeux to allow ourselves to spend some time there. Its not a big town with a population of maybe 14,000. We found parking quite easily and there were very few of the town folk out when we arrived. Maybe it was the weather that was keeping people indoors - mind you, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, or is it always like this in Normandy.
We consciously decided to start our 2008 adventure in the south of France expecting that the warmer weather would keep us company on our travels north. This was not the case on this day - it was very dark clouds that we drove towards.
Bayeux was probably not much more than 100 kms up the road from Alencon and we decided to skirt by Caen.

The river Aure divides within Bayeux creating a small island.
It is in this area we decided it was time for lunch.

What a perfect place for a cafe and our lunch.
The river Aure travels through Bayeux and gives it a peaceful feeling especially from where we decided to enjoy lunch at a cafe beside the banks of the river. I was taking a liking to crepes since an experience a week earlier and decided to again have the salmon galette with a glass of Rose. I'm not sure if it matched the one I had earlier in our travels but the view certainly enhanced the taste. Even though it was wet and a little cold, we had ice cream cones from a vendor perched on the river beside the cafe.

After a satisfying lunch we decided to walk off a few calories with no direction in mind. We had to kill some time before our turn to join other tourists to view the Bayeux Tapestry. Our wandering took us along narrow cobble stone laneways, beside half timbered buildings until we emerged in front of the Bayeux Cathedral.

Sue hides under a brolly as we walk the cobbled laneways of Bayeux.

Normandy seems to have its fair share of half timbered buildings
certainly the case in Bayeux.

Bishop Odo's Bayeux Cathedral.

It was here in the Bayeux Cathedral that the tapestry was rediscovered in 1729. It was displayed once a year before some scholars recognised its true history. As we entered the Cathedral a wedding party was starting to congregate at the doors. Sue and I slipped in and in my usual way with cathedrals, I took a bee-line into the crypt. I always find these areas the most interesting - its where the important people are laid to rest.

Its quite an impressive Cathedral. It stands (naturally) on the high side of Bayeux and like most French cities, the cathedral is the first thing you see on the horizon as you drive towards Bayeux. I remember a similar sight when we drove towards Chartre on a future trip.

Crypts intrigue me - you never know whom you'll discover.

Within the crypt I discovered effigies and fresco paintings.

The entrance to the Bayeux Tapestry museum is this craft used to cross the English channel by William and the Normans for the Battle of Hastings.

Bishop Odo of Bayeux, the half brother of William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy joined William in the 1066 Norman Conquest and fought with the best. Its believed that the Bishop commissioned the tapestry to commemorate the "Battle of Hastings" and was possibly made by William's wife. When we finally walked inside the museum we were handed headsets and listened to the English narrative of each section of the tapestry.
It truly is a masterpiece of history that was worth the visit.

While researching more about Bayeux, I found this great description of the tapestry on You Tube - it will explain it much better than I could.


  1. Hmmmm I am supposed to be packing but I needed reminding how good France looks :) Only been back in the UK a week, have a really bad cold that will not go away. Great post with lovely photos. Thanks for the memories I need them. Diane

  2. I saw the tapestry in Bayeux but I cannot remember the city at all. How weird!

  3. Diane - All comes to those who wait - I'm told.
    Have patience. Are you telling us that you only get colds in the UK - good reason for living in France.

  4. Nadege - I'm sure many people go to Bayeux just to see the Tapestry but to us, the town was quite charming. It was one of the first cities to be liberated during the war and was untouched by the enemy.


Love to get feedback so no reason to be shy - have your say.