Lower Normandy | Basse Normandie (Now Normandy)
We came to Bayeux to see the famous Tapestry. Despite the academic debate over when and who -- it is a rare treasure and well worth a journey to see. It hangs in a specially-built building - The Centre Guillaume le Conquerant. The Tapestry tells the tale of William the Conqueror's invasion of England through a series of panels.
The town of Bayeux is located about 30 km north west of Caen. The river Aure runs through the town so there are plenty of good photo shoots of canals and stone buildings along the way. But, as we said above, the main reason most come here is to see the tapestry.
We did not see it, and it is on our list of places to see when we return to this area, as the Bayeux War Cemetry is the largest British cemetery from the Seond World War with over 4,600 graves.
This town was the scene of intense battles during World War II, but also many years previously when in 1346 England's King Edward III attacked the town as at the time it was the richest in Normandy. King Edward's troops killed some 3,000. In 1955 it was Operation Charnwood that destroyed much of the city but the Allies were able to seize the western quarters of Caen. Throughout this battle many of the towns people sought refuge in the Abbaye aux Hommes which had been built by William the Conqueror some 800 years before.
Re-construction of the city took 14 years (1948-1962). The next time I get to Ottawa, Canada I will like to see the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit exhibition which includes film of the D-Day offensive and the efforts of the town to recover several months later. The film is called "You Can't Kill a City" and it is kept in National Archives of Canada.
After our drive from Paris along the Seine River, stopping in les Andelys and Rouen, we finally made it out to the broad estuary where the Seine flows into the English Channel. Either have it planned as to which of the auto routes you will take or you will have to cross the estuary via the impressive Pont de Normandie - the toll bridge that opened in 1995. It was when it opened the world's longest cable-stayed bridge.
This is one scenic place, and Honfleur is noted for its picturesque port with slate-covered houses. The harbour is the stage for many painters. We enjoyed the harbour, walked about the town and ate the Monsieur Croquet - a cheese sandwiches with bechamel sauce. Mm mm.
We left to continue down the coast driving along the D513 to see towns that included Trouville-sur-Mer and Deauville. Neither one of them really impressed us and after being in Honfleur we had to ask ourselves why we left after a relatively short time to do the coast drive, which was not the highlight we had anticipated.
Explorer Jean Denis left from here in 1506 and discovered Newfoundland - there you go, a little local history linked to Honfleur.
Of course this was on our list of places to visit. It is an experience.
Toughen up. Get through the tacky souvenir stores that line the streets as you enter the island. I guess I felt better when in reading about Mont Saint Michel it seems the retail scene along the winding road up to the church has been active since medieval days!
During the French Revolution the monastery was desecrated and it was used as a prison in the 19th century but it s back! You will enjoy your visit to the church and the cloisters.