Bayeux is small in size, but big on charm and history. The sleepy town is a lovely place to stroll cobblestoned streets lined with shops and Norman-style timbered houses dating from the 17th century. Bayeux is known for two trans-Channel invasions: the conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066, and the German occupation in 1940. Nearby beaches were the first areas entered Allied forces on D-Day and Bayeux was the first town liberated on June 7, 1944. Fortunately for all of us, the town escaped serious damage.
Most people would say that Bayeux is most known for its famous tapestry, an embroidered cloth over 200 feet long and about 19 inches high telling the story of William the Conqueror invading England. Shame on me, I hadn't heard of it until I researched the town for my visit! Other attractions include a cathedral that dominates the town's skyline and a D-Day cemetary that is the largest of 18 Commonwealth war cemetaries in the area. In total, there are 4,868 graves of soldiers from the UK and 10 other countries, including Germany.
Being so close to the D-Day beaches (approximately 5 miles inland from Omaha Beach), Bayeux is a great place to call home base with great hotels and restaurants. It is a friendly town and very welcoming. From Paris, Bayeux is easily accessed by train. There is a line from Gare St. Lazare to Cherbourg that runs regularly that is a little over 2 hours. The main part of the town is a short 10-minute walk from the train station. To drive from Paris, head west on the N13 highway. The drive is approximately 3 hours. Parking can be a challenge in Bayeux, especially during peak tourist season. There are several Pay-n-Park areas with a limit of 2-hour parking. There are a few free car parks, but they fill up quickly (often before 8:00 am).
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