The Norman town of Bayeux was miraculously spared from the destruction of bombing during the Second World War. It retains all its old-world charm with its medieval streets, canals with mills, churches and surprising absence of suburbs and industrial areas.
But Bayeux’s fame stems above all from its famous and astonishing medieval tapestry, thanks to which it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Famous for its tapestries and cathedral, Bayeux is a pretty town just 10 km from the sea and is one of the must-see stops on a trip to Normandy .
Located in the heart of the enchanting Calvados region, Bayeux boasts a plethora of attractions within easy reach: from the Normandy landing beaches to the small towns of the Cote Fleurie.
Consecrated in 1077 in the presence of two famous historical figures, William the Conqueror and Queen Mathilde, Bayeux Cathedral is a grandiose example of Norman Gothic architecture: the church boasts a stunning façade with five portals, a splendid succession of Romanesque round and Gothic pointed arches, as well as many friezes decorating the capitals, depicting strange characters, fantastic animals and four-leaf clovers.
The interior is illuminated by large stained glass windows, which create suggestive plays of light between the naves. The crypt is also worth a visit, with its magnificent 15th-century paintings, perfectly preserved.
It is worth noting the presence near the church of one of the last Trees of Liberty: the revolutionary government of 1797 imposed the planting of a plane tree in every commune in France.
With its 68 metres of painted linen cloth, the Tapisserie de Bayeux is one of the most important testimonies to the Middle Ages. Like a history book, the tapestry tells the story of the invasion of England from the point of view of the Normans, an epic feat that marked the fortunes of the 11th century.
Thanks to the support of the audio guide, you can learn all the background of this page of history, amidst betrayals, power games and vendettas consummated at court: on the 9 pieces of linen, for a total length of almost 70 metres, 600 characters, 500 animals of all kinds, 200 horses, 50 trees are described, making up the story of William the Conqueror’s ascent to the throne of England in 1066.
Having miraculously escaped Nazi raids, the tapestry was hidden in a basement of the Louvre in Paris before being found, restored and finally displayed in the Bayeux Museum.
Bayeux was one of the first towns to be liberated from the Nazis, following the Normandy landings of the Allied forces: for this reason, it was not damaged by bombing and has remained miraculously intact.
The centre is very small, but enchanting: it offers its visitors delightful views of the mills that still overlook the Aure river, colourful half-timbered houses and old Renaissance buildings dotting the medieval alleys, creating a harmonious mix of styles.
Art and history lovers won’t miss the opportunity to visit the MAHB: located in the former bishop’s palace, this museum introduces visitors to the discovery of European artistic development, from prehistory to the 20th century, with a vast collection of 45,000 works: they are organised in different chronological stages including Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the 18th century, in a total of 14 stages.
What makes the museum really special is its narrative choice, which is original and innovative: in fact, the idea was to modernise the collections, presenting them in a playful and appealing light for all ages, such as the room dedicated to the 18th century with its flying armchairs. A different and original way to approach art and history.
Bayeux was the first town to be liberated in 1944: being so close to the landing beaches, it occupied a strategic position during the Battle of Normandy.
Inside the museum, the salient facts of the military operations are described through the display of original objects and equipment. Various military vehicles are parked on the forecourt.
Next to the muzzle are two other memorial sites: the Reporter Memorial and the British Military Cemetery. The first is a place dedicated to the journalists who lost their lives around the world after the war, defending the precious freedom of the press. The second place holds over 4000 graves of Commonwealth soldiers. Admission to these two sites is free.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Once you have rented a car at the airport, you will have to take the A13 motorway to reach Bayeux from Paris. The French capital is 270 kilometres away from the town of Normandy, a journey of about three hours.
The town of Bayeux is located on the Paris Saint Lazare – Cherbourg railway line. High-frequency regional trains reach the town in about two hours.
Bayeux offers several attractions and museums. In addition, its location just 10 km from the sea is strategic: you may decide to use it as a starting point to visit its surroundings and also visit the Normandy landing beaches.
Its historical centre, with its small shops, restaurants and cafés, is perfect for a pleasant and relaxing overnight stay, tasting a plate of oysters accompanied by a glass of local calvados.
What's the weather at Bayeux? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Bayeux for the next few days.
The town of Bayeux is located in the Calvados department in the Normandy region, about 3 hours from Paris.