Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Bayeux

I'm loving taking day trips out of Paris like Versailles and Fontainebleau. Yesterday's day trip took only 2 hours by train to Bayeux, Normandie. Instantly your whole frame of reference changes like stepping back in a time machine.
Go on a weekday and miss the lines and massive groups. You'll have the town to yourself.
The church is a must stop
After the obligatory look into a courtyard (a la Cara Black) I went on to forage for regional specialties. Shops close for lunch in these small towns while the museum stays open all day so treats come first like dessert.
Where you can stop for tea and
A slice of tarte Normande/apple.
Would you believe 'D-Day' jam? Made of apple, pear, cider calvados and lemon.
After many tastings of caramel confit and Calvados in every variety including creamed I was ready to forget the Bayeux tapestries and just hang out.
I ended up with a lovely bottle of rhubarb jus with NO alcohol to speak of but major YUM.
Are these regal hounds waiting to get into the tapisseries?
Inside two more hounds of Baskerville embroidered on the tapestry...
70 meters long and from 1090ish.
You get an audio that describes every pictogram in the story of William the Great and Harold. The designs are riveting and completely contemporary in their sparse simplicity...oh what can one say other than pretty terrific!
Do not leave town without the essential Bayeux dishtowel (10 euros) though somehow I managed to. I'm still working on my Moulin Rouge dishtowel...
What to wear to Bayeux? Definitely not armor. You can probably get away with just about anything. Large groups of Brits coming over to catch their history in stitches so... As for lunch I'd recommend picking up something at the charcuterie on 8, bis, rue Larcher. Plus bread from the boulangerie. There are plenty of nice spots to sit outdoors by the museum and picnic. Most of the restaurants looked to be set up for large group seatings.
The railroad station is walking distance from town and easy to spot thanks to the traditional Hotel de la Gare (it looks like Inspector Maigret's kind of place).

24 comments:

  1. Bonjour Carol. I, too, had a lovely "solo" day trip in Bayeux years ago. That tapestry is amazing, isn't it? The audio tour makes it so much more interesting... Of course, this being Carol's blog, we got a lot of extras: Pâtisseries, street scenes, fashion advice... A fun read, merci. PS: "D-Day jam" made me smile. Since nobody in France ever refers to June 6, 1944 as "D-Day," but instead of "Le Débarquement," I can tell who the shopkeeper's target audience is... :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

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    1. Ah ha! You nailed it Veronique!
      Plus a new vocabulary word
      'Debarquement'

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  2. Bayeux! My favorite town in France! It's wonderful to see it on a sunny day -- and to see that courtyard, which I know very well...it's now a B&B but it used to be the biggest mansion in town, built by The Royal Botanist when he retired from the Versailles court just a few months ahead of the Revolution. He was able to save his neck by keeping to his garden in Bayeux, bits of which still exist in this B&B's backyard. It's a delight to sit there, in the evening, with a glass of champagne, in the quiet when all the tourists and day trippers have gone, and listen for nightingales.

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  3. Anonymous12:03 PM

    How come patisseries is so close to tapisseries?
    Or is it too much exposure to Macarons?
    Foodwalker

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  4. What a country! Shops in small towns close for lunch! Sometimes I think we Americans do everything we can possibly do to make life more stressful.
    Jan Messent - unbelievable embroiderer and artist- was inspired by the Bayeux tapestires and wort a fantastic book "The Bayeux Tapestry Embroiderers' Story". It's one of those books with hand printed information and tons of paintings. It's made me want to see them up close!

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    1. wow you would really love it Jeanette...
      I saw a notice for an embroidery class to copy the Bayeux techniques similar to Benedictine monastaries from May.
      The designs were so spare and elegant...surprising.

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    2. Lunch is a serious event in France
      Most shops outside Paris and some even in Paris close between 12:30 and 2.
      Or 1:30 and 3
      Or...

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  5. My friend nancy's husband was originally from Normandie..I have heard so much about it.. she recently went back..
    His mom had one of those little roms on the beach..so many tender memories for her.
    This town looks so pretty carol..That is great about Europe..so many towns so close.
    I bet the train was very relaxing too..Kindle and all.
    I love peeking in courtyards.

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    1. ICara Black has turned me into someone who peeks into courtyards.
      There was one with a slightly murderous feel to it in Bayeux but only Cara would get excited about it...

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  6. Oh, I so hope I can go to Normandie someday. The jam sounds incredible.

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  7. Oh, OK. You've convinced me. I'll come back to Paris if for no other reason than this little side trip. Love the watercolor, too. And rhubarb jus---oh, boy! Did you go see the embroidery at the Bibliotheque Forney? I missed that, too.

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  8. I've been trying to figure out how to delete this blog from my inbox. Does anyone else know? thanks in advance if you do.

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  9. Love the opening sketch!
    The interior of the tea shop, and that last shot of the train station are my favorite photos.

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  10. What a super day you had, & so different from Paris.This is on my list of places to visit, when I get time. The water colour looked great showing so much in such a small space.

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  11. ... WOW, I'm so glad you went ... isn't it magical .. I almost didn't go and then my seatmate on the flight over told me that I MUST ..

    my sister and bro-in-law were taking the car to the battlefields, so I had a choice ... this man, who BTW was a restaurant critic, said that I really must not miss it ...

    I was captivated by it, maybe because the story is so interesting ... and walking around Bayeux for the day was all you describe and more.

    So glad you went ... it is amazing how the town caters to the WWII traveler.

    Karen in CT

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    1. Yes truly a jewel of a town Karen.

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  12. Normandy is beautiful! Went there the year I went to Paris. Far too long ago. We saw the Bayeux Tapestries, well worth the trip!

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  13. What a splendid post! I do like Normandy but this is a spot we didn't have time to make. I love the D-Day jam -- I should have liked to brought that home to a couple of golden oldies I know!

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  14. Anonymous11:10 AM

    I want to go back to Normandy!!
    Patricia

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  15. What a picture-postcard town! If it weren't for the car in the photo, the hotel could easily be a miniature it's so perfect! x Katie

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  16. Anonymous3:32 PM

    Loved your water color...and your trip looked wonderful...what a charming place for tea...I would spend my whole morning in there eating and visiting
    Lynne

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  17. Bonjour. I loved Bayeux. We stayed at Hotel Churchill which was charming and full of WW11 memorabilia. We took a tour to Mont St-Michel and visited the Canadian museum at Juno Beach.The museum, in the shape of a maple leaf, pays tribute to the Canadian forces who landed on D-day. We definitely could have spent more time in Bayeux.

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  18. Thank you, Carol, for this absolutely fabulous post!
    Remember studying Bayeux and after visiting there in person,it was something that has stayed in memory through all these years.
    My pere made the first eyewitness radio broadcast of the Normandy beach invasion (WW2),and this place has always remained a special favorite.

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  19. We went to Bayeux on our first trip in 98, but didn't find any D-Day jam. I loved the Cathedral and the tapestry too. Thanks for bringing back such lovely memories.

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