BAYEUX TRAVEL GUIDE

  Visiting the beautiful city of Bayeux.

Bayeux Normandy travel guide / RockRoseWine

In a few short weeks Bayeux will be hosting the annual D-Day Festival Normandy. This year, for the 70th anniversary, the town has planned for an even greater participation than usual. Here is a little list of travel tips for those lucky visitors who will be in Bayeux for this momentous occasion and for all other travelers year round.

WHEN TO GO

The two major tourist events in Bayeux are the D-Day festivities that take place the first week in June and the Medieval Festival that takes place the first weekend of July. Unless you are specifically going to Bayeux for these events, I would avoid these dates as hotels will be fully booked many months in advance.

medieval house bayeux

WHAT TO DO

  • The Bayeux Tapestry: No trip to Bayeux would be complete without a visit to the world-famous Bayeux Tapestry. Even if you’re not a history or textile buff, the tapestry is a truly remarkable sight.  The excellent audio tour does a great job explaining the history behind this 224 foot long 11th century artifact. See official website for address, admission prices and opening hours. You can get a reduced rate by purchasing a twin or triple ticket pass for the 3 museums in the Bayeux museum group  (The Bayeux Tapestry, The Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy and The MAHB).
  • MAHB: The Museum of Art and History Baron Gérard (MAHB) reopened its doors in March of 2013 to much fan fare. Housed inside the former bishop’s palace next to the Cathedral, the museum was closed for 12 years and underwent 4 years of major renovation work. The result is 1,500 m2 of gorgeous exhibition halls covering Norman art and history. From Medieval artifacts to impressionist artwork, to permanent displays of Norman lace and ceramic, the MAHB is Bayeux’s new must-see. See official site for address, admission prices and opening hours and information on twin or triple ticket pass.
  • Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-mer: While there are many moving D-Day sites and museums in Bayeux and the surrounding region, if you only have time to do one, that site would have to be the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.  Located in Colleville-sur-Mer 20 minutes north of Bayeux and just east of St. Laurent-Sur-Mer (Omaha Beach), the cemetery is a deeply moving experience one will never forget. Also, when visiting the Cemetery, don’t miss the beautifully curated permanent exhibition housed in the Visitor Center. Opened in 2007, the story of the D-Day landings and the 80-day Battle of Normandy is told through three themes: Competence, Courage and Sacrifice. Both the cemetery and visitor’s center are open daily till 6 p.m. (April 15 to September 15) and till 5 p.m. the rest of the year. There is no admission charge.
  • Other D-Day sites: A complete list of Bayeux and Bessin memorial sites and museums from Bayeux Bessin Tourism.
  • Vieux Bayeux: Miraculously untouched during WWII, Bayeux is a living historical monument. Visit the Cathedral, the Lace Conservatory, walk along the canal, window shop or just wander through the town’s maze of cobblestone streets.

Crab at French MarketFrench goat cheese

Bunnies at French Market

MARKETS

  • On Saturday mornings there is a large market at Place Saint Patrice. This is a fun, very traditional French market. The first alley-way closest to the main street features local organic produce, products, seafood and live animals!
  • On Wednesday mornings there is a smaller market located near the tourist office on the rue St. Jean.
  • On Sunday mornings in Port en Bessin there is a lovely little market along the canal. This is a 15 minute drive outside Bayeux.

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STONE MASONRY AFTER – INSIDE

Our 17th century interior walls after repointing.

living room

Much like the masonry work that was done to the exterior walls of “Our Tour”, the completed restoration and repointing of our interior walls has made a huge difference. Like the outside, the work has not only homogenized the stone and gotten rid of any cracks, it has also lighted and brightened the room. We are kinda amazed by the results.

Exposed stone wall living room before/after repointing

The professional crew also entirely restored the fireplace. The funky resin casing was replaced with new stone. The linoleum was pulled back during the process exposing the wood floors and the vintage tile hearth.

after stone work

17th century stonework after restoration and repointing

They also rehabilitated the stone niche we had found behind the plaster walls.

My beau père also prepared le terrain by wiring the electricity directly into the walls. The wires were passed under the floor boards and then through tunnels made into the wall which were later entirely concealed from the outside. Finished, only the switches and outlets will show.

Running electricity through stone wall

Passing electrical work through stone walls

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MAY FLOWERS

Warm(er) weather at Port-en-Bessin

port en bessin flowersport en bessin market

On Sundays, the canal leading to Port-en-Bessin is full of flowers, fresh fruit and fish. The market takes place each dimanche and seems to get more colorful and lively with each passing year. The wonderful weather brought out locals and tourists alike who took advantage of the low tide on the beaches near the port. Next month, the region will be packed for the commemorative ceremonies of the 70th anniversary of D-Day and everyone is getting ready for a particularly intense agenda this year. Hotels all over the region are fully booked through September. This is the calm before the high season storm.

port en bessin normandy

port en bessin normandy coast

DSC_1558

Also on the Normandy coast:

arronmanches ARROMANCHES

 

STONE MASONRY AFTER – OUTSIDE

Our 17th century exterior walls after repointing

17th century tower after stone work

The outside masonry work is done and we are flabbergasted by the results. The professionals really did an amazing job rehabilitating “Our Tour”. Not only did they cut out the old joints and repoint with new mortar, they also replaced and “crossed” entire sections that were damaged or cracked. They took special attention to the stone around the windows, fitting them with newly cut pieces where necessary.

With time the new jointing will wear away a bit and darken in color, but for now “Our Tour” just seems to sparkle in the sun.

17th century tower

We also did a part of the courtyard’s wall (we’ll do the rest someday). Check out the difference in the arch below.

stone arch after masonry

Stone arch after repointing

Stone arch after repointing

The stone work on the inside main living floor has been completed as well. Just like the exterior, the change is phenomenal. I’ll post some pics soon.

Seeing “Our Tour” like this gives us so much hope for the future. After spending more than a year in just demolition work alone, we finally feel like we’re moving forward.

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Hôtel du Cadran and a few views along Bayeux’s main street

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With the lack of any sunny rays, the sun-dial on the facade of Hôtel du Cadran at 6, 8 rue Saint-Martin remained inert. But even in the rain, I love walking old Bayeux.

In French, a hôtel particulier is a grand townhouse that belonged to a wealthy nobleman. They were often built free-standing with a front courtyard and a large private garden at back.  In this respect “Our Tour” is just a simple maison de ville since it was built directly facing the street in a row sharing parting walls with its neighbors. Ours was not a noble abode.

In Bayeux there are over 300 hôtel particuliers in the town center, many of which have been divided into smaller (but still very spacious) apartments or tourist lodgings. Noble or not, Bayeux’s buildings are truly a treasure and even in the wet weather the town is always so much fun to explore.

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neighbor WANT TO BE OUR NEIGHBOR?

 

REPOINTING AND JOINTING OLD STONE

Our 17th century tower undergoes a stone masonry facelift.

rockrosewine blog

The professional crew came in to repoint and joint the exterior of Our Tour’s outer tower stairwell. This facade is perhaps the oldest of Our Tour’s walls. We believe the stairwell precedes most of the home it connects.

While it was in considerably good shape for being almost 400 years old, it did need a good refreshing. The old mortar was crumbling in many places resulting in water damage to the stone and plants had been finding little cracks in which to sink their roots. Not good in general for the insulation or preservation of our very old home.

The crew came in and set up the scaffolding and started to cut into the joints from the top down. All the joints needed to be well cleaned of its old mortar before applying a new couche. The above pic shows Our Tour’s cut out work in progress (the top floor is cleaned and cut).

Then the team applied a new limestone and sand mix mortar that allows the joints to breath and absorb water in place of the stone. They also replaced all damaged stones and “crossed” them in areas where there were visible cracks.

I’ve seen the “after”, and it’s impressive. But I wanted to wait untill all the scaffolding was down to take new pics. It’s amazing how changed it looks.

 Here are some useful links about repointing stone walls:

See what our Tour looks AFTER:

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