Things To Do In Bayeux
Bayeux was the first French town to be freed after D-Day (June 7, 1944) and is one of the few places in Calvados to have survived WWII and come out essentially unscathed. Nowadays, it’s an incredible spot to drench up the delicate Norman air. The delightful, colorful downtown area is packed with thirteenth to eighteenth century structures, a number of them half-timbered along with finding a fine Gothic basilica- the Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux.
A visit to the Museum of the Battle of the Normandy allows you to understand the context of the events that occurred during the second World War. It has an n impressive collection of tanks, guns, jeeps, fighter planes, and everyday attributes. Bayeux is the perfect starting point if you want to learn and know about the D-Day shorelines.
When To Go:
The overall climate in Bayeux is truly calm because of its area by the ocean; it is formally called an oceanic atmosphere. Summers (June – August) are humid and winters (October – February) are gentle, rain however is a piece of the atmosphere throughout the entire year with winter seeing more rain than in summer. Winter does see the infrequent snow and ice too, yet as a rule the atmosphere is really direct in winter and going to the city amid this time can at present be delightful, particularly around Christmas when the town tackles a cold atmosphere to its appeal.
Summer is obviously, an extraordinary time to visit the city and is considered the high season. Summer climate gets truly hot and the northern area that it holds the sun thrashing for a long time. In any case, sunscreen is fundamental regardless of the fact that it doesn't feel as hot as whatever remains of France, the sun is always bursting with heat and humidity. The continuous downpour isn't sufficient to ruin a get-away more often than not and it has an advantage, the nature encompassing Bayeux transforms into a field of rich and green vegetation.
Here are the top things to do and the exciting places to see in the city of Bayeux:
Bayeux Tapestry Museum
The Bayeux Tapestry Museum highlights the embroidery or tapestry work measuring 70 meters long and 50 cm high, depicting the history of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It shows how William the Conqueror from Normandy invaded England and defeated the Saxon king Harold. The carpet is named after the town of Bayeux in France and was made in 1068. The carpet is of linen and embroidered with colored wool and gold laced thread. It reads like a comic strip in many scenes, the history, boarding, landing, and the actual battle.
There is also a brief explanation of the art in Latin. One of the most famous scenes is the one that has King Harold getting shot by an arrow in his eye and killed. However, recent research has shown that the figure is more likely if Harold has to be identified, is the one right next to the Norman warrior with a horse that falls to the ground and also the Anglo-Saxon type of majesty the one with the two hand ax or with the Dane ax drops.
You know what you're going to see, your expectations are high and yet you still surprised by the grandeur of this epic historical comic where some details are so vivid, so perfectly worked out, so evident as if suddenly you're in the battle and relive history itself.
The tapestry dates from the time shortly after the battle (perhaps only a few years later), and is an important source of historical information, including weapons, clothing, manners and customs of that time. Although by the ravages of time it looked damaged here and there but it was repaired in many places, it is on the whole very well preserved. It was probably made in England by order of Bishop Odo (half brother of William), who was appointed after the victory to Earl of Kent, to commemorate the glorious victory. The Bayeux Tapestry shows a comet that appeared in 1066. That could very well have been the Comet Halley. Scientific researches lately uncovered that one of the oldest known sighting of the comet was here in France.
Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux
The Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux is a stunning gothic cathedral with all the classic elements of the ancient architectural style. Compared to other cathedrals in the area it is well-maintained and preserved allowing to enhance it even more. In the evening the cathedral is illuminated highlighting the verticality of the structure. Once you’re there, the first thing that strikes you is the absurd grandeur of this building in proportion to the city that is really small. Like all Gothic cathedrals, you spend hours to appreciate the details, the architectural layout, and the temperature of the stone, and the color changes with the ray of the sun until dusk.
The cathedral was consecrated in the eleventh century (architecture prevalent in Romanesque), and then need to be quickly rebuilt after a fire caused by a siege in the twelfth century (this time in the Gothic style). It further expanded with works which lasted until the fifteenth century. It looks impressive and solemn outside and is admired for the decorations of the portals of the facade and transept (XIII century). Noteworthy of attention is the striking and curious red front door. Inside, there are lots of things that deserve an attention like; the choir and the crypt below (XI century), the windows (some original inserts of the XIII century) and the organ which has been here since the end of 1500. It is a visit that is worth the detour (and you can match the visit to the museum of the 'tapestry', which is also to be seen) when in Bayeux City.
The old cathedral has the ability to surprise, like almost all French Gothic cathedrals. The external structure is unique and impressive with its striking façade that is lined with Romanesque towers where the bottom is open and shows the five arches with three portals. The interior is simple, bright, with arches, stained glass windows and a long aisle. It's worth a walk and do not miss the frescoes and the crypt. The Bayeux Tapestry was displayed here for several centuries. The Cathedral is located in the center of the country and if you are driving, you may take a short walk from where you are parked because the vicinity lacks a public parking nearby.
Museum of the Battle of Normandy
The Museum of the Battle of Normandy is very interesting and contains numerous artifacts and historical documents (photos, movies, German tanks, weapons of various types, military clothing etc.). Even the explanatory panels (in both French and English) are really well made and it is easy to understand very well all the strategies behind the long battle of Normandy and also the reasons for the difficulties encountered by the allies. The museum is an informative and educational source for teenagers who have studied the Second World War at school. It is just a pity that taking pictures is not allowed inside even without the flash. You can buy a ticket that also applies to the entrance to the museum of the Bayeux Tapestry. On leaving the museum, do not miss the British military cemetery (just in front, on the right) and the Memorial des Reporters (dedicated to journalists killed in war).
The museum is very well done; the many findings and evidence are well displayed in all of the rooms. It also helps a lot to understand how they have performed all phases of the landing and the liberation of Normandy. It shows a very interesting video which reconstructed the stages of the landing (it is shown in two formats, one in French and one in English). The Museum of the Battle of Normandy offers an Interesting indoor trail showing the largest display of weapons and equipment and giving a good idea of what the soldiers of the Second World War needed to carry on their shoulders. The projected video allows an overview of the operation during the war. It has an astounding emotional impact that hits the viewer straight to the heart.
British War Cemetery
The British War Cemetery is a beautiful and moving attraction that is dedicated to the fallen soldiers of World War 2. You can walk among the tombstones, read the names, the age of the deceased and at the same time understand the message of the phrases inscribed on the plaque and made by the family of the fallen, it is an experience that actually makes it into the heart.
A tour of the graveyard seems to relive the drama of those days that had such significance for the future of democracy in Europe. To think that so many young people have left their homeland and their daily lives to come to fight in France and to hope for a better future, it is something that truly touches the deepest chords of the human soul. Standing just opposite of the cemetery and also worth visiting is the "Memorial des Reporters", dedicated to journalists killed in places of war.
Reporters Memorial (Memorial des Reporters)
The Reporters Memorial (Memorial des Reporters) is a fitting tribute to the men and women who risked their lives to practice the freedom to inform and tell the truth about the most horrible war in history. When you think of war you rarely imagine that so many journalists also lose their lives to document the war itself. This garden, as simple and touching as it is, reminds everyone about this fact. On the gravestones, over a year (since 1945) you will see only a bare list of names with no more information (or the nationality of the journalist, or the war in which he lost his life), as if to signify that this information are not important and that all wars are alike and a waste of lives often of the innocent.
Indeed, for some years it was not enough for a single headstone to affect all the names of the journalists (and photographers) killed in war. Separately, before all the other tombstones you will find a small plaque commemorating the works of Robert Capa, the author of the memorable shots of the Normandy landings that every guest admires at the nearby Museum of the Battle of Normandy.
Musee Baron Gerard
The Musee Baron Gerard is an ancient museum that is housed in the former Bishop’s Palace and very well combines historical parts with modern amenities. The place is nice, airy, and brings together lots of beautiful pieces about the history and art of Bayeux. This museum is dedicated to both objects from archaeological excavations (Roman statues, Gallo-Roman pottery, etc.) to master paintings (beautiful table from Caillebotte and Dutch paintings), but the most interesting is certainly the section on Bayeux, the beautifully enhanced cabinets (drawers that can be opened for inspection) and one dedicated to the porcelain of Bayeux presented in showcases with well designed various collections of different designers. You can also see a small room that is very well preserved and in the background has a beautiful little chapel. To visit this splendid museum, take your time and spend at least 2 hours or more.
It is a contemporary museum that discusses the art and history of the region. You can find old parts from prehistory to the present day through the Roman period and the Middle Ages. It has a very nice set up and the art works are carefully laid out. There are also a section about embroidery and an overview of all the porcelain factories in the entire region of Bayeux. This museum is full of tips that will delight the most resistant visitors to the story. A big plus in Bayeux; the building is particularly pretty. The museum is built on the remains of the buildings of the bishop by linking it to each other a superb modern glass that plays with light and highlights the various ancient facades of both the indoor and outdoor details of the structure.
Eglise Saint-Patrice de Bayeux
The Eglise Saint-Patrice de Bayeux is one of the remaining religious structures that withstood the test of time and survived the bombing during the D-day experience This 16th century church is very beautiful and it’s bell tower is particularly noteworthy. Framed by the small villages of Bayeux and existing since the 1100s, the church is a living testament to the horrible atrocities of war (bullet holes can still be seen on its side, walls, and fences). The church is not always open and the best way to see it is after hearing the Sunday mass to admire its icons and sculptures as well as learn its history.
Jardin Public de Bayeux
The Jardin Public de Bayeux is a pretty small botanical garden that is unpretentious with lots of arboretum species of remarkable trees and a beautiful weeping beech (tree genus) that is quite impressive. The tranquil place is ideal for a small family outing where the walk and the pathways are all nice. The only downside is some of the plants and trees lack information panels.
The best part is taking long walks along the flower garden, a well designed area that protects a centenary old weeping willow that looks curious and strange, majestic trees, and a beautiful lawn. Games for children at the spacious playground with a great view of Bayeux. It is a very quiet and pleasant garden that is located in the heart of the city.
Atelier Galerie Ludovic Grand-Guillot
The Atelier Galerie Ludovic Grand-Guillot is a studio gallery that is full of great surprises and stands close to the old museum. In addition, the artist works in a workshop at the back of the beautiful gallery. Most of his works carry colors that are vibrant; from the light flashed tables, topics, fish, etc. everything is staged in beautiful paintings or sculptures. Ludovic Grand Guillot, the artist also conducts façade works and restorations in mansions and churches.
Lace Conservatory in Hotel du Doyen
The Lace Conservatory in Hotel du Doyen is a real laboratory of embroidery and a must see attraction in Bayeux. It should be visited in silence, if you attend a class of embroidery. Because of its sheer size it cannot be toured by large groups. You can admire lots of beautiful work on display indicating the type of "point", what kind of material was used and the number of hours worked on each item. The prices of these jobs may appear high, but you have to imagine how much work goes to create and finish one intricate lace art. It is great to admire the memorabilia on the walls and in the windows and especially see a seamstress at work. Don’t fail to visit this lace center while in Bayeux.
The city of Bayeux is a great place to visit and understand the role of France during World War II. Despite its tragic past and being bombed during the Second World War, the city has lots of preserved beautiful monuments, many mansions that you will discover during your walks, and even half-timbered houses. A tour is worth the effort and its true wealth its own rich heritage that is interesting to explore and discover while in Bayeux.
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