Driving through Normandy was a great way to see the countryside and towns as we headed for the D-Day beaches. Bayeux was our stopover location for the night because of its proximity to the beaches, but wow what great unexpected discoveries awaited us in the quaint medieval town of Bayeux, France!
Our wonderful B&B, Le Castel, was family run and a convenient place to stay for the night. It was centrally located near the old town and only a block from the beautiful Cathédrale Notre-Dame De Bayeux.
But what a surprise to see the amazing cathedral and its towering steeple from our balcony!
No time for unpacking–it was time to check out Bayeux.
A walk through the old town of Bayeux was a walk through a medieval French town.
The historic cathedral, the old timber-framed houses, and the architecture dating back to the Renesaiance make for an interesting town. The streets were narrow, many only wide enough for single-lane traffic. But most of the traffic in the district was foot traffic. And plenty of it!!!
And musicians playing!
In fact, it was an annual music festival, Fete de la Musique!! We were in for a real treat, as musicians both professional and amateur, were sharing all types of music with the townspeople and tourists that night.
We watched and listened as many performers took their places on the sidewalks and in the middle of the streets. We saw dancing and clapping and laughing that night from performers and bystanders. We also observed the reverence of the church choir as they sang choral songs on the sidewalk. It was an amazing surprise to us to be serenaded by the people of Bayeux!!
Enjoyed Strolling through the Old Town
In addition to enjoying the Fete de la Musique, we strolled through town marveling at the architecture and discovered a restored waterwheel on a canal of the Aure River that ran through the middle of town (Bayeux has a bayou haha!!). Beautiful!
Many tourists visit Bayeux to see the Bayeux Tapestry. It’s an amazing 70-meters long embroidered tapestry on display at the Bayeux Tapestry Museum, depicting the events of the Norman conquest of England. Due to our schedule, we were unfortunately not able to see the tapestry on this visit. Many historians think that the tapestry was commissioned to adorn the cathedral, where it was on display from the 11th to the 18th century.
What a Treasure — Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux!
One of the incredible treasures that amazed us was the Cathédrale Notre-Dame De Bayeux. It’s similar to the Notre-Dame in Paris! It was one of my favorite cathedrals we visited in Europe because of the amazing Gothic architecture and also because of the ease of access to visit. It is an active place of worship as well as a place of history.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame De Bayeux is adorned with many carvings and stained glass windows, lovely chapels, a beautiful basement, gothic nave, flying buttresses, towering steeples, bell tower, and gargoyles–and it is over 1000 years old! And having survived the centuries and many recent wars, this cathedral stands tall as a beacon of survival.
And I couldn’t help but notice the bright red doors!
And I LOVED the fleur di lis adorning some of the inside doors (reminding me of Louisiana!).
Bayeux and the nearby Normandy beaches are places to visit as well as to reflect and remember the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944. And as we would discover later that day when we visited the Normandy American Cemetery, the significance of D-Day is understood and appreciated by the people of this region.
We Came to Bayeux to Remember D-Day
So as we joined other guests at our B&B for breakfast, we were intrigued and slightly amused that of the three couples gathering at the table that morning, there was a British couple, a Canadian couple, and an American couple. And what we had in common that day was we had all traveled to Normandy for the same purpose, to remember what happened in 1944 and the sacrifice made by many British, Canadian, and American soldiers to liberate northern France.
And for us, Bayeux with its historical charm was a wonderful Normandy stopover on our way to the D-Day beaches. I hope to return one day to experience this quaint medieval town again. And to remember.