Castles, Crepes and Wine Weekends: Exploring Caen & Bayeux in France
Normandy is located along the northern shores of France is known for the William the Conqueror, the castle he built in Caen and the D-Day beaches, and the tapestry that hangs in Bayeux.
It’s easy to make it an excursion for a day from Paris however if you want to know more, this is a great getaway in France and is worthy of at the very least a weekend of your time. The best thing about France is that even if you get bored, there’s always more food and wine to indulge in.
What to do in Bayeux
I suppose I should begin by stating when you should visit Bayeux. I arrived in January, not realizing that the French have their holidays much more seriously than us here in the UK and that everything was shut… Okay it’s an exaggeration but I was fortunate enough to visit several times when I was at School so I didn’t have to miss out all that much. However, be certain to confirm opening times prior to your visit or you could be a bit disappointed when you don’t see the best things.
See The Famous Tapestry
The Bayeux Tapestry museum is situated close to the heart of this charming town in France You’ll be getting smitten after walking across the platform. It was also most certainly closed when I arrived and, not wanting to wait for the 18 days before it reopened again, I’ll give you a rundown about an old school excursion…
It’s a stunning piece of fabric, measuring almost seventy meters long, the details woven onto it tell the history about the English invasion of William the Conqueror. This is a double win art and history class all in one.
Play ‘Hunt The Crepe’
In the event that you find that the Museum isn’t available to you, then you could play a game that I call “Hunt the Crepe” mostly because nothing else was open on the weekend either. Take the main street up for a short time and you’ll come across the market square (some days during on a weekday) to take in the French vibe, go to the patisserie, pour yourself in a cup of coffee, and then finally locate the perfect crepe!
Visit The Notre Dame Cathedral
It’s impossible to travel anywhere in Europe without visiting the cathedral, can you? It’s true that the Notre Dame Cathedral in Bayeux isn’t the most grand in the world, however if you’re an avid fan of stained glass and everything old like me, this is a must to pop your head in.
Check Out The D-Day Beaches
The historical significance of the surrounding areas can be understood through a short excursion to the beach. The Normandy landings were fought in this area from WW2 and there are evidence of war from memorials to bunkers. It’s a terrifying memory of the history that our grandparents were part of.
Remember At The War Cemetery
On the outskirts of the city lies the second-largest military cemetery of France. The more than 4000 white grave markers are an obvious contrast to the lush greenery they are set in. An eerie moment to reflect on the past of Europe I shed some tears there for sure.
What To Do In Caen
Around 30km from Bayeux (which is accessible via train – read the next paragraph below) Caen is the city with a port. It was the port I used to enter that I arrived via ferry from the UK which was a breeze and quite affordable. The city is renowned due to the castle built here in the time of William the Conqueror and its cobbled streets, vibrant eateries (did anyone mention wine?) and abbeys scattered throughout the city.
Hunt Down The Greatest Restaurant Street
Okay, go to this street: Rue du Vaugueux – it’s perhaps the most adorable, charming and charming (there aren’t enough cliche words to describe these cobbles) place for a bite to eat, coffee, and watch people go by. The crepes here are amazing. Simply, go here to the Google Street View link right now and get ready to be swept away in love with sweet French love!
Play King Of The Castle And Hunt Out The Churches
The city’s heart is the castle that was the home of William the Conqueror. The inside isn’t as striking as the draw bridge’s entryway or the massive walls surrounding the castle. The parking area at the back of the building also ruins the structure, but it’s still a impressive structure and an excellent base to explore your city. It’s only possible after you’ve walked the street above and had eaten a lot (and wine and yes, even at breakfast, that’s what the fizzy stuff is meant for (:P).
Explore The Abbeys
Two Abbeys are located in Caen One for ladies and the other for males (a Benedictine Monks monastery in fact). Both are stunning in their architectural design during the day, and illuminated at night. It is worth taking note of if there will be any performances inside at any point during your visit to take in the incredible atmosphere around these magnificent structures.
Explore Abandoned Churches
Why is that? I love decaying structures, the plants which grow within them and the stories that walls continue to tell. The one below is actually closed, though there were certainly residents who were there. If you get inside, I’ve seen some amazing
If you’ve not had the opportunity to reflect due to the fact that you missed Bayeux The Caen memorial is a good place to stop and think about. A war cemetery as well as a museum, this is probably the most appropriate place to go for those who want to learn more than just WW2 but also about the specific battles as well as the significance to Caen and Normandy in the course of conflict.
If you’re looking to take in the grand architecture, sip wine, eat a lot and then recite cliches about how adorable Europe is, you cannot be wrong with this weekend getaway! It’s feasible as an excursion for a day from Paris but make sure you take the time to stay in the city to truly take in the sights (and be able to walk back to the street to eat more! ).
The Real Stuff…
How to get there To get there: From Paris it is possible to travel to Caen within two hours. Make reservations in advance to get a discounted cost through the French Railways site. Alternately, Brittany Ferries sail from the UK to Caen Port, either overnight or during the day.
Travelling by train The train that connects Caen to Bayeux is scheduled to run at least every hour and lasts about 15 minutes, at an insanely price of EUR13 return. It’s easy to explore by foot, without the need for public transportation. If you’re taking the ferry, buses are available for the majority of departures and arrivals, but taxis, if they do not, can cost you more than EUR40. It’s not cheap, France is not!
What to do: The accommodation in France is often tiny or expensive, or both. I stayed at Hotel Bristol at EUR50 which is where the most adorable dog and a charming host welcomed me. The hotel appears as if it is in a time change, but behind the doors to the bedrooms are spacious, clean and comfortable beds, with contemporary decor and bathrooms.