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Bayeux is a beautiful town in Normandy, in the Calvados department. The city is best known for the Bayeux Tapestry (Tapisserie de Bayeux) and for the immensely large Notre-Dame. So definitely check it out if you’re in the area. But apart from that, Bayeux is also a nice city to walk through. There are cozy shops, nice restaurants and many historic buildings.
Bayeux, back in time
Bayeux was founded by the Romans in the 1st century BC. A few centuries later, a castle was built in Bayeux, the city was provided with city walls as protection against invasions by the Saxons and the construction of the cathedral started. In the 18th century, the castle and the city walls were demolished again. During World War II, Bayeux was the first major city to be liberated by the Allies.
What to see in Bayeux? Sights and tips
Bayeux was liberated without resistance, so that the city suffered virtually no damage. This means that there are still many historic buildings to admire in Bayeux. I therefore advise you to wander around the city. Along the river Aure, through narrow streets, over old bridges and past beautiful authentic buildings. There are nice restaurants, cafes and places to drink coffee or tea during a visit to Bayeux. When it comes to the sights in Bayeux, a number immediately stand out; you can read more about it below.
The Bayeux Tapestry (Tapisserie de Bayeux) is the city’s biggest attraction. It is a 70 meters long and 50 cm high embroidery depicting, among other things, the Battle of Hastings. The embroidery was made around 1068, it is thought especially for the dedication of the cathedral of Bayeux. The tapestry is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be admired in Musée de La Tapisserie de Bayeux.
Museums in Bayeux
In addition to the Musée de La Tapisserie de Bayeux, where the Bayeux Tapestry can be admired, Bayeux has two other beautiful museums. In the Musée de la Bataille de Normandie (Museum of the Battle of Normandy) you can learn everything about the invasion of Normandy between June 7 and August 29, 1944. In the Musée d’art et d’histoire Baron Gérard (Museum of Art and History Baron Gerard) you can admire many art treasures, from prehistoric excavations to contemporary art.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux
At the beginning of the 11th century, the Bayeux cathedral (built in Romanesque style) was consecrated. After the Romanesque church burned down in the 12th century, it was rebuilt in Gothic style. All that was preserved after the fire was the crypt, which can still be visited today. It is a beautiful space with coarse columns, capitals and frescoes.
Historic monuments in Bayeux
Notre-Dame is the first building to be listed as a Historic Monument in Bayeux at the end of the 19th century. There are around 30 monuments on the list and it is nice to visit a number of monuments during a walk.
Maison à pans de bois de la rue des Cuisiniers à Bayeux
One of the monuments that show off on the list is Maison à pans de bois de la rue des Cuisiniers à Bayeux. This is one of the oldest half-timbered houses in Bayeux, if not the oldest. You will find this gem on the corner of Rue des Cuisiniers and Rue Saint-Martin. In the Middle Ages, an inn was located here. In the centuries that followed, it served as a shop, as a tourist office and as a restaurant (Le Loge à Pieds).
Diagonally across the street is the gate, which was once part of the city wall. In the late Middle Ages, this part of Bayeux was the scene of many butchers and butchers who sold their meat in one place: Halle aux Viandes. The gate you see here was the entrance gate to the meat hall at the time.
Arbre de la liberté
Behind the cathedral is Arbre de la liberté, a tree of liberty. The square where the tree stands is called Place de la liberté. It is a symbol of freedom, created after the French Revolution. The tree, a plane tree, was planted in 1797. The freedom tree is now 30 meters high and the trunk of the tree has a diameter of more than 2 meters. I can tell you: it is impressive! I therefore walked several circles around the tree to admire it from all angles.
Bayeux War Cemetery
A place where you should definitely stop is Bayeux War Cemetery. This British military cemetery contains the graves of more than 4,600 fallen soldiers, of which almost 4,000 have British nationality. Across the street from the cemetery is the Bayeux Memorial. On this spot, 1801 names of soldiers who have not been given a physical grave are listed.
Want to see more places that played a major role during D-Day and the following months? You can book great tours from Bayeux where you visit various locations with a guide. Think of a private tour with a guide or even a sidecar tour with a guide. I did the latter myself in Provence and that was really cool!
Jardín Botánico de Bayeux
Need to enjoy a natural environment? Then Jardin Botánico de Bayeux is the place to be in Bayeux. The botanical garden was opened in 1864 and many of the trees planted then are still there today. The most eye-catching tree is El haya llorona, a weeping birch with a diameter of more than 40 meters. In 1932, the tree was classified as a natural monument and since 2000, the tree bears the predicate Arbre remarquable de France.
Nice overnight stay in Bayeux: La plus petite maison de France
Are you looking for a special place to stay in Bayeux? Then take a look at La plus petite maison de France. This cute little building on the river Aure with gray-blue shutters is right in the center. You look out on the colorful rowing boats in the water and on a cozy terrace, where you can also eat delicious crêpes (Show Glacé creperie).