Bayeux and the Tapestry…ahhhhh

I love France. Every time we’ve visited the people are warm, friendly and very pleased that I try to speak French. My French pronunciation  is rubbish, but I try and that’s what important. This time we stayed at a small B&B outside Bayeux. Perfect. A modern house in the middle of two tiny villages surrounded by fields and gently mooing cows. A grass lawn in the middle of a garden full of roses where I could take a nap on the grass every afternoon after a day of seeing the sights.

Sunlit roses in Madame Delamare's garden - tres bon!

Sunlit roses in Madame Delamare’s garden – tres bon!

Homemade jam – 15 different kinds! – every morning with croissants and coffee and we could use the kitchen every evening for making salads and sandwiches for supper.

A huge private bathroom and a bedroom looking out onto the garden. Best of all only 47 Euros a night. Aunay’s Bed and Breakfast. I REALLY didn’t want to leave and we’ll be going back – there’s so much more to see!

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Even the road sign is slightly hidden.

On the first morning we woke up and I announced that today we would go see the Tapestry. We’d met Madame Delamare on the evening before and I’d explained (in my bad French) about how much I wanted to see the tapestry. At breakfast she joins her guests for coffee and when I announced that the Tapestry was the agenda for the day she said “Comme madame vent bein sûr!” (as madame wished of course!) We all laughed because my excitement was infectious and I couldn’t wait to get going.

Bayeux

Bayeux

Driving into Bayeux took only 15 minutes and finding a parking place was easy. We walked to the museum and purchased our tickets but decided to return later in the day. There were four large groups of schools children – both French and English – and although they were all well behaved and polite, there were just too many of them and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to see very well.

On the way to the tapestry museum - the back way!

The “back way” to the Tapestry.

We visited the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire Baron Gérard which has been recently renovated and is well worth your time to see. We’d gotten a combined ticket for both the Tapestry and the Museum and it’s a good deal. The museum was almost empty – not many people know about it yet. It’s a shame because it’s excellent; small and a perfect place to learn about the history and art of the area in an hour.

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Then it was time to have lunch and on to the Tapestry. All over Bayeux there are little brass circular plaques in the cobbles with an image of one of the trees from the Tapestry cast into them.

DSCF2270We again went the back way to the museum – meaning we went through smaller streets and alleys. It wasn’t a long way but we walked slowly, soaking in all that this beautiful town had to offer. I knew we were close when I saw this sign!  Almost there!

We're here!

As you can see, I’m one happy girl! I’ve been wanting to see this for sooooo long and I could hardly believe that my life had brought me here. Who would have guessed, when I was a young teenager of 13 reading every historical novel about England I could get my hands on, that one day I would see the greatest visual record of the Norman Conquest?

Entry way to tapestry- the design in glass

 

Inside the museum there are etched glass windows depicting the tapestry and that’s as close to photographing the tapestry as anyone can get. We walked around the corner, showed our tickets and picked up the excellent audio guide. Then I walked through the door and – no kidding – I stopped in my tracks and gasped – out loud! All the people inside who were near to me turned around to see what was wrong. Nothing was wrong. However, seeing the tapestry stretch out in front of me for meters and meters in the long, long, long glass case, lit dimly was awe inspiring.

I put the audio guide to my ear and listened to the introduction. Just in front of me were a Dutch couple who had decided against the audio guide and clearly knew a lot about the tapestry. They discussed every scene thoroughly and were able to read and translate the Latin. I continued to use my audio guide but was so thankful they were in front of me – I could then go at the super slow pace I wanted to go. I would listen for a bit, turn off the guide, look and look and lean forward and look some more and then move on. People streamed past behind me but I needed to soak it in. The stitching, the fabric, the colors, the lines of the pattern – I wanted to see and remember every inch. My husband was done long before I was and he – wonderful man that he is – sat and waited patiently.

Bayeux Cathedral

 

Before seeing the Tapestry we visited Bayeux Cathedral where the Tapestry had been displayed years ago. It’s a gorgeous Norman Cathedral full of intricately carved stone work and sparkling stained glass windows. In the bay above you can see the flags of the USA, Great Britain, France, Germany and Canada. This area is, of course, where the D-day landings happened and where horrible battles in WWII were fought.

Just outside the museum in Bayeux.

Then we walked back through town, over this beautiful bridge and back home. Madame Delamare was just getting some new guests settled and asked me “How was the Tapestry?” I didn’t need any French, my face showed how wonderful it had been!

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Bayeux and the Tapestry…ahhhhh

  1. Kathy –
    Visited the Tapestry many years ago – in 1971 – and it looks as though it finally has an appropriate setting to showcase its unique value! Will have to revisit now that you’ve given such a clear explanation of your visit.
    -Sharon in France

    • Hi Sharon,
      The museum that it’s now in is perfect for the tapestry. There’s plenty of room for people to see it and on another level there’s a small museum that gives some of the background. There is also a small theatre where a film runs in many languages explaining the history. Well worth another visit – and Bayeux itself is so romantic!
      Liebe Grüße,
      Kathy

  2. How VERY EXCITING!!! I do envy you that first hand experience of seeing the tapestry in person. I would think being able to see the entire Bayeux Tapestry in one long strip, not just pictures of individual scenes or long distance shots, would really change one’s perspective of the entire embroidery. If you close your eyes can you see it in the Cathedral?

    Please tell me, how do the colors relate to the colors in David Wilson’s book. I have looked at hundreds of pictures and every picture or publication shows the colors just a bit different.

    I must say I am enjoying following you on vacation this summer!

    • Dear Paula,

      From my memory the colors in David Wilson’s book are very accurate. However, the lighting is so dim that it’s difficult to say how close any photo is to the colors in the dim light. I think the coors are quite accurate and I feel confident that the colors I’m using (and that you used) are great.
      Liebe Grüße,
      Kathy

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