1066 to 1944
Trip Start Aug 04, 2009
13Trip End Aug 17, 2009
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The Bayeux Tapestry was simply amazing. The nearly 1000 year old "document" tells the story of William the Conqueror, who left Normandy to conquer England in 1066. The embroidered cloth was used to tell the story, as most people could not read at that time. At one time, it did hang in the Bayeux Cathedral. It is nearly 70 meters long, and the museum has it set up in a climate controlled facility, winding through many darkened rooms, behind protective glass, of course. An audio guide was available and it would have been a waste of time not to use one here – very informative as it told the story; scene by scene, panel by panel
Afterwards, we checked out the small cobble stone streets with the half timbered houses, stopped into a patisserie for a treat for later and a few groceries at a supermarket, and made a quick stop inside the Norman-style Cathedral, circa 1077. Mass was ongoing, so we stood in the back with other onlookers. I would have liked to have explored a bit but it wasn’t an option. I found the Cathedral to be one of the most striking I had seen in France. I love the simplicity of the Norman churches and cathedrals. We then had a nice break at a creperie on rue St-Jean, a café latte and a chocolate & chantilly cream crepe for me, and people watched! The last stop before leaving Bayeux was the WWII British Cemetery and Memorial. As with all CWGC cemeteries, the setting was immaculate and peaceful. The views of the Cathedral spires from this cemetery were beautiful, and hearing the bells from this location at one point was memorable. The white stone Memorial really stood out for us, both in appearance and meaning. Loosely translated from Latin, the inscription reads “Those who were conquered returned to free the conquerors”.
It was time to leave Bayeux and head back toward the D514, which would be our last drive along that fantastic route! The first stop was the German battery at Longues-sur-Mer. I should mention that this day was humid to begin with, but now that we were standing on coast – wow! The humidity hanging over the Channel made for some interesting pictures! The remnants of the battery were interesting to explore, but I found the area a bit crowded. We saw what we could see and moved along, getting back into our Renault with A/C (really needed it that day!) and back onto the D514 a bit before turning off to get back to Beny-sur-Mer Cemetery near Reviers on the D35
Next up – Pegasus Bridge! We took a roundabout route to get there through the countryside, taking longer than we should have as we stopped at many roadside memorials as we spotted them. This was the British sector in ’44, so the memorials were for British regiments that saw action in the area. We were using GPS, and at one time it put us on a 'goat path’ in someone’s farm! The ‘Pegasus Bridge’ site is comprised of a modern museum and the original steel bridge, now removed from use. This is all located across the river from Benouville, so we had to cross the new bridge and pass the Café Gondree (first house liberated by British forces on June 6, 1944), to get to the museum on Maj. John Howard Drive.
The museum was interesting, well put together, and we spent quite a lot of time there. After the museum, we drove back across the bridge and parked in the Café lot, and the walked back across the bridge to check out some memorials along the river, and see the views from that location. By this time, we were thirsty and getting hungry, so we took an outside table at the café and had a beer (1664!!) and then decided to get a bite to eat there as well (Quiche and Salad!). All very satisfying! Inside the café, the walls are covered in various regimental badges that were interesting to look at!
After this long day, we headed back to Caen for an early night. I remember having a shower and getting into bed when it was still light out. I think we both needed the extra sleep!