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Bayeux France Tapestry Bayeux

Bayeux France Tapestry French Holidays

Amazingly, considering that it was the first town to be liberated in 1944, Bayeux escaped the ravages of WWII and is extremely pretty, if a little touristy. The Cathédrale Notre Dame dominates the skyline from its spot in the centre of town and there is a distinctly medieval feel to the cobbled streets radiating from the cathedral square.


Bayeux

The gare SNCF is south of the town by the ring road, a good fifteen minute walk into the centre. The gare routière is north of place St Patrice. The tourist office is right in the centre on Pont St Jean (02 31 51 28 28) and it often has exhibitions in the foyer that are generally very good, from local photographers and painters to traditional lace making expos.

Map of Bayeux

The Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, or the Bayeux Tapestry to non French people, retells the events leading up to and including the Norman conquest of England in 1066 over 70m of embroidered linen. You can see it on the rue de Nesmond for under €7, and it really is quite amusing, with little in jokes, fables and depictions of Norman and English dress that anticipate the London Paris fashion rivalry of recent years. Harold has a dastardly little moustache and William looks every bit the hard done by hero as he reclaims his throne. This 11th century comic strip is told from the Norman perspective, of course.

 

Along the road the Norman Gothic cathedral is a spectacular example of 13th century architecture with 15th and 19th century add ons, such as the tower and copper dome. If you want to see one of the nine remaining 'Freedom Trees' (Arbre de la Liberté) in France, plane trees that were planted after the Revolution, then pop next door to the Musée Baron Gérard, where there is a collection of paintings from the 15th to 19th centuries, some local lace and porcelain.

Having visited the tapestry, cathedral and the odd WWII memorial, head towards the rue St Jean and find a cosy place to eat. La Fringale at number 43 (02 31 21 34 40) is a good terrace restaurant with lunch menus from €9, or next door at number 42 La Table du Terroir will serve up meaty menus from €14 to €26 (02 31 92 05 53). For self catering types, the market at place St Patrice on Saturdays is good for local produce and vegetables, and the fish market at Port en Bessin.