See a famous historic tapestry, discover D-Day beaches and explore gorgeous gardens in this beautifully preserved Norman town.
With its medieval architecture and compelling historical ties, Bayeux is a fascinating and pleasant place to spend a few days. Bayeux was the first town to be liberated after D-Day and is one of the few in the area to have survived World War II without significant damage. Tour its characterful old town, inspect the renowned Bayeux Tapestry and ponder the past at historic war sites.
The famous Bayeux Tapestry is housed at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux. Measuring 229 feet (69.7 meters) long and weighing 771.6 pounds (350 kilograms), this historic embroidered cloth depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Legend has it the tapestry was sewn by William the Conqueror’s wife, Reine Mathilde.
Just a 30-minute drive from Bayeux are Juno Beach, Gold Beach and Omaha Beach, where the allied troops landed on D-day in June 1944. Learn about one of World War II’s key battles at the Musée Mémorial de la Bataille de Normandie, where military vehicles, weapons and uniforms are displayed. The nearby Bayeux War Cemetery includes 4,144 Commonwealth burials and 500 war graves of other nationalities, while the Journalists’ Memorial honors journalists killed in the line of duty since 1944.
Be sure to stop by the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux. The highlight of Bayeux’s old town, the cathedral was constructed in the 11th century but was rebuilt in the Gothic style after it was damaged by fire in 1160. Admire the intricate stained glass windows, the murals in the crypt and the neoclassical main altar.
Don’t miss the Jardin Botanique de Bayeux, a botanical garden spread over 6.4 acres (2.6 hectares). The garden still has many of the original specimens planted at its opening in 1864, including the famous weeping European beech tree that has been named a natural monument and a remarkable tree of France.
Bayeux is located on the western edge of Calvados in the Lower Normandy region. Reach Bayeux by flying into Caen Carpiquet Airport, a 30-minute drive away. Bayeux is a 3-hour drive or a 2.5-hour train ride from Paris. You can also take a ferry to the port at Ouistreham, a 45-minute drive from Bayeux.