The Beauty of Bayeux, Untouched by History
Nestled in the northern countryside of France, just four miles from the English Channel in the area of Normandy, the delightful city of Bayeux offers its visitors a unique perspective on history. There are the requisite things to do in a city of such charm. Stroll along its main street, peeking into shop windows for souvenirs. Stop at a local produce stand and survey the local bounty. Tilt your head to the heavens while trying to get the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in your full view. The church is a national monument of France, consecrated in 1077.
The Cathedral was also the original home of the famed Bayeux Tapestries. Woven in 1066 by Reine Mathilde, wife of William the Conqueror to commemorate events in the Norman Conquest of England, it is one of the world's oldest tapestries still intact. It's such a tourist attraction, that Bayeux created a museum just for this one incredible piece of art – the Musée de la Tapisserie.
Bayeux is also where, in 1944, then-General Charles de Gaulle made his first major speech in which he made clear that France sided with the Allies. The buildings in Bayeux were virtually untouched during the Battle of Normandy, sparing the city's architectural gems.
The city can also be used as a base to explore the D-Day sights. The closest is the church in Sainte Mere Eglise, which commemorates in stained glass the American paratroopers who landed in that town during World War II. Private John Steele who got caught on the church's steeple (and survived!) is memorialized with a fake paratrooper dangling from the top of the church.
Tours to the D-Day beaches and the American Cemetery are easily set up from Bayeux. Once the scenes of massive destruction and heartache, today the beauty and the serenity of these places will overwhelm your senses. Anyone who is interested in WWII history and how the West overcame tyranny has Normandy on his or her “bucket list.”
Using your France Rail Pass, Bayeux is easily reached in just over 2 hours from Paris. And if you're interested in visiting Normandy's other well know battle city, it takes just twenty minutes by train from Bayeux to reach Caen and its award winning Memorial Museum.
You can easily make Bayeux a day trip. But this area, and those who fought for freedom, deserve so much more.
To learn more about preparing your trip to France, visit Atout France by clicking here if you’re a US resident or here if you’re a Canadian resident
Contributed by: Rachel, E-business Editor, who has experienced much more of Europe than she ever imagined, traveling by train.