Wednesday, November 9, 2016 (Travel to 'Room With a View of the Cathedral' AirBnB, Bayeux, France)

We were up early this morning...we wanted to get to the train station (at the airport) to see if we could change our tickets. So with no breakfast or even coffee (!!), we took the hotel shuttle back to the airport. The folks at SNCF (France's national state-owned railway company that managed the rail traffic) thought it very odd that our trip to Bayeux had been booked that way and were very good. They said that they normally are not allowed to change tickets but would take care of it...it would just take a few minutes to issue 'free' tickets in their computer system. We walked out of their office with new tickets that left Paris St. Lazare station just after 10:00...then we had to go get tickets for the train/subway into Paris. That ended up costing us another $20 euros...oh well.

And then the adventure into Paris began! We found our way down to the train/subway platform and onto the right train to the Paris Nord Station. Once there...yikes! it's  huge and there were people rushing every which way! Of course, everyone is on their way to work. We finally found the right train...asking people for help along the way. Few spoke any English...yikes again! Finally a nice young lady from the States (Virginia we learned later) told us we were in the right place. Once we arrived at the Paris Nord station, she must have noticed that we appeared confused as we had no idea which way to go, because she took us under her wing...luckily she too was going to St. Lazare. Once at that station, she actually went out of her way to ensure we got to where we needed to be to catch the train to Bayeux. We can't thank her enough!

Once there, we were very happy to see a huge Starbucks...we still had quite awhile to wait for our train, so we found some comfy chairs overlooking a street in Paris and relaxed with coffee and muffins (actually, I think Steve had a cinnamon roll).

This  is the train station waiting area. The station was being patrolled by fully armed soldiers in groups of four. Steve didn't think it was advisable to take their picture...
Platforms to board the trains...time to board...
The trip to Bayeux took around 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The train traveled backwards so that we weren't facing the direction of travel which was a strange sensation. Upon arrival, we took a taxi to pick up our car rental...the office happened to be at a gas station and the lady didn't speak English. We were spoiled in Amsterdam because most everyone spoke English...we were going to be in for some challenges now that we are in France! She was very nice and we managed...with a lot of sign language, to get all the paperwork completed. She even managed to recommend a good spot for lunch and "sort of" explain how to get there. I actually managed to snag a Wi-Fi connection, so I had my trusty Google Maps to use. The dash display was like an iPad and all in French, so we had a hard time figuring it out. It did have GPS but is was much easier using my phone.

It's been 21 years but didn't take long for Steve to get used to driving a manual transmission again...and before we knew it, we were there...right in the heart of Bayeux.
La Boucherie Restaurant...where we had a great lunch (mind you, we were very hungry!).

I can remember sitting there saying to Steve..."We are in Normandy!" Just a little amazed we're actually here! LOL
After lunch we had the afternoon to explore around Bayeux. We could not check into our AirBnB until after 6pm. We found the BnB...looks nice! It has a gated yard for secure parking of our rental car..
We parked the car in a lot just down the road and headed out on foot to check out Bayeux...
Bayeux Cathedral...truly magnificent! The architecture is amazing...
We passed this open gate leading into a courtyard....
Narrow streets...



Very cool looking building...









This is a restaurant bar we had a couple of dinners while here...

On our way to the Tapestry...

The Bayeux Tapestry is a major tourist attraction and is a historical documentary source on the 11th Century. The embroidered cloth is nearly 230 feet long and 20 inches high.

We purchased tickets (to The Tapestry as well as the Bayeux Museum that we'll have to fit in before we leave), and at the entrance to the exhibit, were given an audio recording that explains each scene on the tapestry as you slowly walk by it. Unfortunately, no pictures of the Tapestry were allowed.

The Bayeux Tapestry gives information of a historical nature that no other source has provided. It begins with the description of Harold's eventful journey to Normandy (landing in Ponthieu, meeting with the Duke William, expedition in Brittany and oath on the sacred relics of Bayeux). It then depicts Harold's return to England and his coronation after the death of King Edward the Confessor. Finally it describes the preparation for William's expedition, the crossing of the Channel, and the Battle of Hastings.
The story, as described in the Bayeux Tapestry is broadly in keeping with the account made by authors of the 11th century : William of Jumi├Ęges, William of Poitiers and Orderic Vitalis. William Caillou,a monk at the abbey of Jumi├Ęges, wrote in 1060-1070 a history of the Dukes of Normandy, which ends with an account of the conquest of England. William of Poitiers, one of the Duke's knights, who then became his chaplain, wrote around 1070-1075 a biography of William, which ends just after the conquest. As for Orderic Vitalis, he was born in England in 1075, of an English mother and a French father who fought in Hastings. He arrived in Normandy in 1085, became a Monk at the monastery of Saint-Evroult (Orne) and spent much of his life compiling a voluminous History of the Normans, an important part of which is devoted to William the Conqueror. One should also mention the poem written by Guy of Amiens, chaplain of Queen Mathilda, which is an epic account of the different phases of the Battle of Hastings.

Compared to these written sources, the Bayeux Tapestry offers original information, found nowhere else, particularly with regards to civil and military architecture, weapons, navigation and elements of everyday life.

By the time we were finished at The Tapestry, we were exhausted...but it still wasn't 6:00 yet, so we walked back to the car and relaxed in it for about an hour until we could check into the BnB.

Elizabeth, the owner of the house, met us in the courtyard as the gates opened to let the car in. Entrance through the gate is awkward as the gate is temperamental and very slow to open. Being a corner lot on a busy intersection you hold up traffic as you wait (later on, Steve would drop me off to open the gate and then turn around and come back once it was open).

After introductions, we hauled our suitcases up to the second floor and Elizabeth showed us our room...bed, couch, coffee table and chair...and a separate small room with sink and shower. The toilet is across the hall...and is shared by all. Oh...okay then...not exactly what I had expected but oh well. There was also a kettle, 2 mugs, instant coffee, tea as well as a basket of snacks. Two white terry robes hanging in the bathroom were a nice touch...and made walking across the hall to the toilet in the middle of the night much easier.

And this is our view through the french doors (that open onto a "non balcony"). Just like the picture in the AirBnB ad. Very cool!

After getting settled, we went across the street to a pizza restaurant called Le Domesday Bayeux...interesting name...but great pizza!
Our room at the BnB doesn't have a TV...so after we finished dinner, we caught up a bit on our devices (the BnB has internet...yay!) and were asleep early. It had been a long, eventful day! We're looking forward to our 3 days here...so much to see!


2 comments:

  1. Beautiful town! Maybe I'm stereotyping, but I figured everyone I Canada knew some French?

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    1. A lot of people speak French in Canada...both as a first language (mostly back east in Quebec) and as a second language. Here in the west, we had to take a year of French classes in junior high school. For us, that was many moons ago and other than some key words, we've forgotten most of it.

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