Bayeux Tapestry and Cathedral

In the morning, Rod drove the 200 kilometres to the medieval town of Bayeux in Normandy. We drove much of the way on toll roads, and also in steady rain. The weather eased up as we arrived in Bayeux just a little before midday.

Our first stop was the Bayeux Tapestry, the reason for our decision to come to this part of France. Words fail me when I try to describe how wonderful this artefact it. It is an embroidered work on linen, almost 70 metres long and about 50 centimetres wide. It was completed some time in the 11th century, making it over 900 years old, and it’s still in very good condition. The tapestry relates the story, through a series of numbered scenes, of how William (Guillame) of Normandy was promised the crown of England and this news was relayed to him by Harold, but when Harold returned to England, he betrayed William and had the crown placed on his own head. When William learned of this treachery, he gathered an army and sailed to England, where is Norman archers fought and defeated Harold’s Saxon army at the Battle of Hastings in the year 1066.

The tapestry is preserved in a darkened room. As you move along it, an audio guide relates the story behind each scene. No photos are allowed, to ensure flash photography does no lasting damage to the tapestry, so the photos here are from facsimiles I found in the gift shop. This was a stunning historical artefact and I’m so glad that I’ve now seen it with my own eyes.

Next we walked a short distance to Bayeux Cathedral and ventured inside. For two weeks each year over many centuries, the tapestry was displayed within the cathedral, until events like the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars began a journey where it moved around France for a time before eventually returning to Bayeux.

Inside the cathedral, as we also saw around the town, are expressions of gratitude to the US armed forces who landed on the beaches of Normandy during Operation Overlord in 1944 in their quest to liberate France from the German invaders. Almost 10,000 white marble crosses at the nearby US military cemetery are evidence that the cost of freedom was a terrible price to pay.

In the evening we walked back to the cathedral precinct from our hotel and found a pasta and pizza restaurant for dinner. Here’s a few photos I took on the walk back to the hotel. The final photo was taken from the door of our hotel room.

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