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It’s not hard to find wonderful things to do in Bayeux France. This city is known as the perfect base or gateway to visiting the D-Day Beaches in Normandy. It is also well known for its famous tapestry and the fact that it survived WWII virtually unscathed, thus leaving its medieval core a modern-day explorer’s dream. Here are the best things to do in Bayeux Normandy.
1. Things To Do In Bayeux: Visit The Glorious Cathedral
Classified as a historic monument since 1862 the majestic Notre-Dame de Bayeux Cathedral was consecrated in 1077 in the presence of William the Conqueror. Built in the Norman Romanesque and Gothic styles, its splendour and commanding presence demand that you visit the interior, and walk around the entire exterior.
Read More: Here are 19 wonderful things to do in Normandy France. Start planning your next trip to Normandy!
2. Marvel At The Bayeux Tapestry
The incredible Bayeux Tapestry, almost one thousand years old and 70m long (230 feet), is a marvel to behold. Head to the museum where it is displayed behind glass and follow the embroidered visual story of how William the Duke of Normandy became William the Conqueror, King of England. The Bayeux Tapestry is listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register.
3. Things To Do In Bayeux: Visit The D-Day Landing Beaches
Bayeux France is the perfect base for visiting the D-Day Landing Beaches of Normandy. There are five beaches to visit: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Pointe du Hoc is also a worthwhile stop, as well as the first liberated town Sainte Mère-Eglise, and Arromanches where the artificial harbour, Mulberry Harbour, was created. There are plenty of memorials, cemeteries and museums to visit.
Read More: Here is my full article on How To Visit The D-Day Beaches In Normandy, France.
Drive yourself or take an organized tour from Bayeux Normandy to the D-Day Beaches.
The tour I took was with Gold Beach Company and my guide was Adeline.
Buses from Bayeux France can also get you to certain D-Day sites but the schedule, especially in the off-season, is not that convenient. Check out the timetables at busverts.fr Destinations will be The American Cemetery of Omaha Beach (Bus # 70 and #74), Pointe du Hoc, Gold Beach (Arromanches) or Juno Beach (Courseulles-sur-Mer).
Tour from Paris: No time to stay in Bayeux? Here is a day tour to the D-Day Beaches from Paris.
4. Pay Your Respects In The Bayeux War Cemetery
The peaceful Bayeux War Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth cemetery of WWII. Holding over 4500 burials of young soldiers from the United Kingdom, Canada, and other countries such as Germany, Poland and Russia.
Walking through this graveyard where the tombstones include the ages of the young soldiers was particularly moving for me. I had finally accepted that on this visit to Bayeux France, I was not going to make it to Juno Beach, where the Canadian soldiers landed nor to the Canadian War Cemetery at Bény-sur-Mer.
When I found the first Canadian gravestone in the Bayeux War Memorial I dropped to my knees, instinctively, before the paratrooper’s tombstone. Tucked between the grass and the tombstone was a piece of paper. I pulled it out to find a photograph of a handsome, youthful face staring back at me.
“Well, hello Martin Reynard. Thank you for your courage and dedication and thank you for putting a human face to the endless rows of tombstones here today. You are remembered and I thank you.”
As I continued along the row upon row of crosses, I found the Canadian corner where well over 100 tombstones faced me. What struck me so profoundly, along with the young ages of the men, were the names. Ahearn. McLeod. Riley. Cooper. Houghton. Jones. Jarvis. Wilson. Engelhart. McCutcheon.
I’ve been living in France for a year. I haven’t heard Canadian names like this in months. I’ve taught children that hold these surnames.
I dropped to my knees in gratitude.
Across the street stands the Bayeux Memorial dedicated to 1807 Commonwealth soldiers whose remains were never found. Their names are engraved on the pillars.
The epitaph across the top, inscribed in Latin translates to:
We, once conquered by William, have now set free the Conqueror’s native land.
5. Walk Through The War Correspondents’ Memorial
After having been at the D-Day landing beaches, I felt it important to visit this garden and memorial, dedicated to reporters and freedom of the press. It is a short walk from the Bayeux War Cemetery.
The names of over 2000 journalists, who have lost their lives across the globe in the line of work since 1944, are engraved along this scenic trail marked by white headstones.
A quote from Simone de Beauvoir is engraved at the site:
“One may only taste freedom when others around us are free.”
“Se vouloir libre, c’est aussi vouloir les autres libres.”
6. Things To Do In Bayeux France: Stand In The Footsteps Of Général de Gaulle
A few days after the Normandy invasion, Général de Gaulle returned to France and made his first speech in Bayeux Normandy. Stand before the monument in Place Charles de Gaulle, a lovely park where a grand 9th-century château used to stand, and imagine listening to that glorious speech on liberated soil.
“In our glorious mutilated Normandy, Bayeux and its environs were witnesses to one of the greatest events in history…” Général de Gaulle, June 14, 1944
“Dans notre Normandie, glorieux et mutilée, Bayeux et ses environs furent témoins d’un des plus grands affrontements de l’Histoire…” Général de Gaulle, June 14, 1944
7. Things To Do In Bayeux: Flâner Through The Medieval Centre
One of the best things to do in Bayeux is to flâner. Wander and observe. There are waterwheels beside the River Aure, half-timbered houses, cobbled streets and exceptional architectural details.
Enjoy the village feel of Bayeux as you stroll along her streets. Don’t miss rue Saint-Malo, rue Saint-Martin and rue Franche. Pick up a map at the tourist office to complete your own walking tour or follow along the route of the copper signs on the sidewalks.
8. Shop The Open-Air Markets
A French market is always fun to experience. On Wednesdays find the Bayeux market on the pedestrian street Saint-Jean (same street as the tourist office).
On Saturdays, the Bayeux market takes place on place Saint-Patrice. This market is larger than the one on Wednesdays.
More Travel Info…
More Information on Normandy:
All my posts on Normandy will give you a good idea of highlights to visit in the region. Spectacular places such as Mont-Saint-Michel, Honfleur and Etretat are found in Normandy. They each have separate articles and are also written up in 19 Wonderful Things To See in Normandy.
Walking Tours In Bayeux France
I did not manage to take a walking tour but passed by one and wish I had! Here is the link to Guided Tours of Old Bayeux by Discovery Walks.
Where To Eat In Bayeux France
Just to the right of the red Bayeux Cathedral doors sits L’Assiette Normande. Ask for one of the tables by the window and stare up at the Cathedral while you enjoy your French meal. This restaurant was my go-to for dinner. And yes, in small-town France in the year of COVID-19, I was the only solo female eating dinner.
Where To Stay In Bayeux France
Bayeux France is quite small so book your accommodation in advance, especially if you are planning to visit the D-Day for the anniversary of the Allied landings on June 6.
I stayed in this Bed and Breakfast, Logis des Remparts, a lovely old home less than a five-minute walk to the Bayeux Cathedral.
Check out these hotels too.
Where To Rent A Car In Bayeux France
There are plenty of places to rent a car in Caen.
Bayeux is small and there is not a lot of choice. In fact, this might be the only place to rent a vehicle. Call in advance. Hertz Car Rental in the same place as the Total Gas Station.
Telephone Number: 02 31 92 03 26
What are your favourite things to do in Bayeux France?
Until next time,