Bayeux is a lovely, sleepy, medieval city and an excellent jumping off point to tour nearby historic WWII sites.
Getting there by train is simple and less than 2 hours. We began our trip at the Gare Saint-Lazare Train Station and took the escalator to the second floor. Our train was leaving from track 22 (most trains leave from tracks above 20 but check the screens that are all around the station). We had a 2 hour wait and since it was July the station was HOT. We quickly discovered the Starbucks is the only air-conditioned place in the station. Two starbucks drinks later we got on our SNCF train to Bayeux.
The glorious cathedral dominates the town and dates back to 1077 and consecrated by William the Conquer.
The old eleventh-century crypt in the basement had been blocked up and forgotten about but was discovered in 1412 and is now open to the public. It’s mysterious and a little creepy but felt great on a hot July day.
From around 10 pm to midnight, the cathedral was stunning in colorful lights. It did remind me a little of the magic castle in Disneyland.
In the courtyard of the Cathedral is a Liberty tree. It was planted on March 30, 1797, and two nights a week it is lit up in a gorgeous light show. They were just setting up the lights when I walked by.
The town might be most famous for the Bayeux Tapestry. It originally hung in the Cathedral but is now in its own museum. It’s a linen cloth with wool embroidery and measures 230′ long. It tells the story of William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, and his conquest of England, including his victory against England’s King Harold (who had betrayed William) in the famous Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. The tapestry is thought to have been commissioned at the end of 11th century by Bishop Odon, William the Conqueror’s brother, to decorate the Bayeux Cathedral cathedral. It’s remarkable that it has survived more than 900 years and that you can view all of it. My hubby is a descendant of William so it was really fun to visit and see the story told in such a creative way.