Bayeux — another French town that bears the unfortunate description of ‘badly damaged by World War II bombing.’
Memorial to the 50th Northumbrian troops killed in and around Bayeux during World War II
But the real claim to fame is that it hosts the amazing Bayeux Tapestry. We’ve been looking forward to viewing this ever since our first visit to Normandy earlier in the year, so I was quite pleased that we managed to fit a day’s expedition to Bayeux into this particular multi-month stay in Normandy.
It’s a charming small town and, in contrast to the concrete bunker-ish appearance of the reconstructed St. Lo, this town has been rebuilt with sensitivity to historic style by using the traditional building material of stone.
Late autumn amongst the stone buildings of Bayeux in Normandy, France
A street in Bayeux in Normandy, France
Entry to the Moulin Restaurant in Bayeux, Normandy, France
We rambled down the cobblestone streets and decided to go see the beautiful Bayeux Cathedral
(also called the Notre Dame Cathedral of Bayeux) that we had glimpsed peeking over the roofs of the surrounding buildings. This was the original home of the Bayeux Tapestry. It is a simply splendid cathedral and well worth a visit if you are in Bayeux to visit the famous tapestry. It’s a mere few blocks to walk from one site to another, so it’s quite easy to see both places if you only have a few hours to spend in the town. I’ll post a large selection of photos of the cathedral exterior, interior, and the wonderfully atmospheric crypt in a future article.
The lovely Notre Dame Cathedral in Bayeux, Normandy, France
We arrived at the museum, stood in a short line to gain entry (€7.60 each for admission), and then proceeded into the large display room. Every visitor is assigned a self-guided-tour device in their choice of language and that device auto-activates as you stand in front of each numbered section of the tapestry.
The Bayeax Tapestry isn’t actually a tapestry done in needlepoint at all!
Museum containing the Bayeux Tapestry in Bayeux, Normandy, France
It is a rather vast embroidery done on a very long swath of linen.
Because of the age of the item and the need to protect the fragile 70 metre long fabric from the light, the display is in a darkened room and absolutely no photography is allowed. So I have no firsthand photos to show you. But you can click on the highlighted links above and below for more information.
What struck both of us was the almost comic-book like quality of this vast piece of embroidery that has survived invasions and world wars! In centuries past, the Bayeux Tapestry was exhibited once each year within the Bayeux Cathedral to show the citizens the history of the Norman Conquest of England at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. This marvelous piece was commissioned to be created quite shortly after the battle itself. We found it fascinating to look at and we had several laughs at the humour that was quite effectively portrayed in the embroidered illustrations.
Cartoon-like whispering courtiers behind the king as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry in Bayeux, Normandy, France.
As we left the museum, Mark remarked that it was a funny place to see the Emergency Room entrance to the local hospital — right across the narrow street from the tapestry museum.
Emergency entrance to the Bayeux Hospital directly across from the Bayeux Tapestry Museum
For a change of pace from the World War II history in Normandy, Bayeux is certainly a recommended spot for a day out.
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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