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France – Wednesday: To Bayeux

August 16, 2012

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There are so many things to do in this lovely part of France but one place we knew we definitely wanted to visit was Bayeux to see the famous tapestry. I’d been only once before, as long ago as when I was pregnant with Nicola, so a return trip with the now grown-up Nicola had to be on the agenda. It was an easy 50 minute drive to Bayeux and as it was quite a cloudy day with a bit of rain in the air, it was perfect to do some indoor sightseeing. With Nicola’s excellent navigation from a small map in our guide book, we managed to go straight to a car park by the Centre Guillaume le Conquerant where the tapestry is housed.

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Entrance was €7.80 which included an audio guide. We had to queue to get in but once inside the dark room where the tapestry is displayed behind glass, we became completely enthralled. This almost 1,000 year old artwork is stunning with the beauty of its composition and the delicacy of the embroidery with its distinctive colours. It’s an artwork that really does come to life as you move along. The audio guide certainly aids one’s understanding but there’s an incredible movement in the actions of the people and boats and horses and arrows contained within it and we became engrossed. There is grandeur, pathos, death and glory. Of course, being British, we did wonder at the French take on the story! However, as we emerged into the town it was now time to turn our thoughts to lunch and finding a creperie seemed like a good idea.

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It was going to be pot luck and we looked at a couple of places and then settled on the one we saw first (as is often the case!). A €12 menu gave us a savoury galette, a sweet crepe or ice cream for dessert and a glass of cider.

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My ice cream – salted caramel and dark chocolate – was particularly good. We decided to look inside the Cathedrale Notre Dame before going home. It’s a very beautiful cathedral, mainly 13th and 15th century and, my guide book tells me, a fine example of Norman Gothic architecture.

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There was some beautiful stained glass inside and I really liked the cathedral. Unlike some churches and cathedrals that have been spoilt by becoming top visitor attractions, this is one that retains its soul and has a strong spiritual resonance.

Back at Manoir de Laize we found that Jean-Michel and Claude’s daughter and son in law were visiting and Etienne, an artist, was working on a sculpture by the barn. He seemed happy to talk while he worked and as the afternoon went by, everyone took a turn to go up and watch the artist in action.

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We were planning to BBQ the chicken we’d bought the day before. Jonathan marinated that and made a wonderful sauce from some Maille tarragon mustard that he’d found in the supermarket, adding olive oil and lemon juice, and then pouring over the chicken once it was cooked. I prepared the haricots jaune that we’d bought in the market at St Pierre sur Dives on Monday, simply boiling them and then dressing with lemon juice and olive oil. I also sliced large tomatoes in half, topped them with a mix of fresh breadcrumbs, garlic, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper and bound together with olive oil to be roasted in the oven.

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By the end of the day the sky had cleared promising more sun tomorrow. But even without much sun, it had been another lovely day.

4 Comments
  1. What a nice way to spend a day. I went to the cathedral one morning when it was empty…so beautiful and serene.

    • It was a great trip and we all loved seeing the tapestry. The cathedral wasn’t empty as it was for you, but fairly quiet and such a lovely place to wander round slowly for a while.

  2. Did you go to the war memorial? Very moving.

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