Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> France

Bayeux travelogue

a weekend in Normandy
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th, September 2011


The ferry left Portsmouth at 7am, and we weren't sure how long boarding and so forth would take, so we got up at 4am in the morning, after maybe three and a half hours sleep. Urggh. Camilla is even less of a morning person than me, so she napped while I drove to Portsmouth, which took maybe an hour and a half in light rain, sitting at 75mph on the A34, passing an unending line of lorries. In the end we had plenty of time.

The Channel was quiet and we had an easy trip over; this was the fast ferry, taking about four hours, so we got to Ouistreham around noon French time. We had to wait for the bus from there to Caen. There was a a big group of cyclists setting off - one of them told us they were cycling 22 miles before lunch and had 1000m of climbing to do that day!

old houses in central Caen
Abbaye aux Hommes

In Caen we had to carry our luggage around, since there was nowhere to leave it, but I'd realised this would be a problem so we had everything in single backpacks. We started with a look at the Church of Saint-Pierre, because the bus dropped us of there. Then we wandered down the main pedestrianised area and had lunch, before going up to the castle area and the Museum of Normandy. After tea we walked to the Abbaye aux Hommes, where William the Conqueror was buried (though his remains and tombstone have been lost).

We took the train to Bayeux, found the little B&B Aggarthi, hidden away in in a courtyard barely a block from the Tapestry, and the friendly hostess soon had us settled in and we were off to find dinner.


Bayeux is a lovely little town. The Bayeux Tapestry was the main attraction for us, but the cathedral is also lovely, the weekly market was on, and the town centre is fun to just walk around. A ten minute walk or so from the centre we visited the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy, the British war cemetery, and a memorial to journalists who have died in war.

That was more than enough to keep us busy for the day, and we fitted in some good food as well.

Bayeux shop
Bayeux street
Bayeux market
Bayeux mill
Bayeux war cemetery
Bayeux war journalists memorial


On the Sunday morning we had a twenty minute wait on Bayeux's very sleepy little station for the train to Cherbourg-Octeville. The trip was also quiet, with views out the window of the bocage (a term I was only familiar with from D-Day histories read as a teenager).

Cherbourg harbour
reconstructed longboat

We walked up from the station to the city centre, but it being a Sunday all the shops were shut and we had trouble finding somewhere to eat.

We looked at one church, but the main attraction was the Cité de la Mer, an old harbour railway station which is now an aquarium — and also hosts a decommissioned nuclear submarine the Redoubtable which we visited. (The entire section that held the reactor has been cut out and replaced with a replica.)

After that we had what seemed like a long walk around to the ferry terminal — we had had to carry full packs all around Cherbourg.

Cité de la Mer
Redoutable nuclear submarine
one of the control rooms

The return ferry trip was restful and after an easy drive home we were back in Oxford before midnight.

We didn't visit the Caen Memorial, or any of the D-Day beaches and associated sights. If we'd had an extra day that would have made a good excursion, either with our own car, on a guided tour, or possibly braving the bus system.
France << Travelogues << Danny Yee