The Bayeux Tapestry is more like a cross stitch than a tapestry, but impressive nonetheless.
At just under 70 metres in length, the tapestry’s 50 scenes depict the Normandy conquest of 1066 which culminated in the Battle of Hastings.
Housed at a museum in Bayeux, the overall experience is very well done. The price of admission includes an audio recording which talks you through each scene and the craftmanship behind the work.
Besides being informative, the audio also keeps the viewers moving – smart crowd management.
Upstairs, there is more information on the making of the tapestry and the Normandy invasion which you can wander through at your own pace.
The Normandy coast has a long and turbulent history from Celtic, Roman and Viking squabbles to the more recent history of World War II. The Normandy Landings were one of the most significant campaigns by allied forces which led to the liberation of Europe and end of the war.
You could spend days visiting the landing sites and historic land marks along the coast. There are also countless museums. We decide on one, a newly released film shown in a 360′ cinema built on the clifftop at Arromanches.
Arromanches played an important part during the landings, an artificial port was created, which provided access for troops and heavy artillery.
The film is truly incredible, a collation of World War II archive material gathered from around the world, including german footage.
It summaries the state of play prior to the landings and graphically displays the landings and liberation of the French villages. The film is an emotive tribute to the soldiers and civilians who were killed during the battle.
Once again we are winging-it with no accommodation planned and the new favourite web site chambresdhotes.org saves the day.
We have stopped at a small shopping mall for free wifi, within an hour our accommodation is secured and we head off to our B&B in Epreville, a small village just outside Rouen.
We are warmly greeted by Jean-Yves, with his excellent English. He shows us through his lovely home, trying to tempt us to upgrade into one of his premium rooms.
They are all lovely, but so is ours for the more ‘basic-price’, more suitable to our budget.
We also ask Jean-Yves for a dinner recommendation, he talks us through the nearby choices and we opt for the recommendation he describes in the more ‘basic-price’ category.
The French love a set price menu which always works out to be more cost effective. It might be good for the budget, but not for the waist. The ‘basic-price’ did not disappoint, another superb meal added to the memory banks.
Jean-Yves and his wife Marie-Lise have been running the B&B for 15 years. They are very proud to note that they are listed in the Michelin Guide.
A place in the Michelin Guide is earned not paid for, Michelin take their recommendations seriously and undertake covert reviews at anytime. From our experience, the honour is well deserved.
Rouen is a pretty town sitting on the river Siene. It was here in 1431 that Saint Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.
The impressive Notre Dame cathedral, with its Tour de Beurre (butter tower), according to a most reliable source (Wikipedia), the tower was financed by the sale of indulgences for the consumption of butter during Lent.
We even visit the art gallery in town on the promise of viewing some Impressionists. There are a few from well know artists including Claude Monet, but overall it was probably a little disappointing.
On departing Epreville, we stop off at the Castle Martainville, it’s one of those great finds, off the regular tourist track.
The castle was completed in 1505. Again, we are impressed that the entry includes headsets with a self guided tour of the property.
We were on a tight schedule to make it to Pierrefonds (need to check-in at lunchtime, or our hosts will be at work until late), so we did do a rush-job on the castle.
It is well worth the visit though, hosting an extensive and impressive range of regional furniture from the 15th Century and other household items including linen, china and clothing, representing everyday life at the time in Normandy.