Wednesday, September 18, 2013

By Bayeux - Part 1

Bayeux ( pronounced "bye euww" as in view ), Calvados, Normandy, France is an ancient, quaint, lively and historic town. Bayeux is geographically located in the heart of Normandy, the home of Camembert, Calvados, cidre (hard cider) the Bayeux Tapestry and D-Day 1944 beachesWe arranged to rent a little town house that is located in the centre ville, right around the corner from the high street which teems with restaurants, little shops, creparies and coffee bars.

Bayeux is located only 6 miles from the nearest D-Day beach, and yet was miraculously spared from any bombing or even fighting between the Germans and the allies within its town limits.
Apples are the major produce crop in this area, and farms that produce apple juice, cidre, pommeau, (which is a fortified cider) and Calvados dot the countryside. We stopped at one the other day, and were offered tastes of each of their products. Not able to just taste and leave, we bought a couple of bottles, which paired wonderfully with a Norman Apple tarte for dessert.

Bayeux' Notre Dame Cathedral dominates the skyline, and though most buildings are 3 stories or so high, one can keep ones bearings while wandering around the winding streets simply by finding a clear bit of sky and looking for the Cathedral. 
Beautiful by day or night, this imposing structure is a beautiful inside as it is outside.
Commissioned in 1066 the church sits over an ancient Roman Crypt, and for 400 years housed the Bayeux Tapestry, which was also commissioned by Bishop Odo, half brother of William the Conquerer.
The Cathedral is built in the Norman gothic style, and has undergone many remodels, repairs and restorations over the centuries.

A block down the street from the Cathedral is the museum which houses La Tapisserie de Bayeux, a 120 foot long wool on linen embroidery which chronicles a two year period of events leading up to, and subsequent Battle of Hastings.
As no cameras are allowed inside the museum, I have lifted this image off the web. It is amazing this light weight linen embroidery has lasted as it has, because no effort to preserve it had been made until early in the last century. It was hung in the cathedral each year for about a month for 400 years, but stored rolled up in a wooden box, and miraculously escaped two devastating fires. In 1792, it was used as a tarpaulin to cover a load of weapons, but was rescued by a member of the National Guard. It is a world treasure not to be missed, if ever you travel to this corner of France.

Tomorrow: By Bayeux - Part 2

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