During the half-term week at the end of October, we travelled to Bayeux in Normandy, France for a few days.
Our plan was to visit the sites of the D-Day Landings and Bayeux was the perfect town in which to base ourselves. Bayeux claims to have been the first town to be liberated on 6 June 1944, but we soon realised that many other towns along the Normandy coast claimed the same thing.
The beautiful 11th Century Notre Dame cathedral dominates the town and is the seat of the Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux.
It was also the original home of the Bayeux Tapestry, which is believed to have been commissioned by Odo, Bishop of Bayeux and half-brother to William of Normandy, sometime during the 1070s.
The tapestry is now housed in a separate building near to the cathedral. Almost a thousand years old, it is incredible. The quality of both the embroidery and the colours is quite astonishing. Both The Brainy One and I had seen it before, back in 2004, but the arrival in the intervening years of individual audio handsets have made seeing the tapestry a much better experience.
We learned that Edward the Confessor had named his cousin, William of Normandy, as his heir and sent his brother-in-law, Harold, Earl of Wessex to Caen to inform him. Long story short, Harold ultimately had other ideas and claimed the English throne for himself.
When William landed on the English south coast with his army to claim his throne, he didn’t realise that the English had been marched down from Stanford Bridge, where they had been fighting off a Viking invasion just a few days earlier, to Hastings. The English soldiers were exhausted before the Battle of Hastings had even begun. William of Normandy became William the Conqueror.
It just goes to show that timing is everything, including an arrow to the eye.
Photographing the 1,000 years old Bayeux Tapestry is strictly forbidden.
Bayeux is a beautiful town and I recommend using it as your base if you’re in Normandy for any length of time.