Most famous for the eponymous tapestry which depicts the Norman Conquest of the UK in the 11th century, Bayeux is a northern France town which has history weaved through its streets. Not only does Bayeux host medieval artefacts and relics, but it is also a great starting point for trips to visit famous World War II landmarks.
Why visit Bayeux?
Bayeux is a pretty and quaint northern French town, much like its near-neighbour Caen. The town lies in one of the areas of Europe most steeped in both modern and medieval history, with the northern coast of France having seen plenty of action over the years due to its strategic location.
Bayeux was actually the first town to be liberated during the Battle of Normandy and many of the buildings in its beautiful Old Town emerged from the Second World War still intact as, despite its location, it did not contain any factories or military bases. This means that Bayeux is one of the most classically-French towns in northern France in terms of appearance.
A serene and tranquil town these days, Bayeux has just 15,000 inhabitants and is never flooded with tourists, thanks to nearby Caen proving to be the more popular option for many UK travellers.
Hop on our ferry from
Newhaven to Dieppe
and after your short, 4 hour, journey you can drive to Bayeux in just 2 hours and 15 minutes, depending on traffic.
Alternatively, our routes from
Dover to Dunkirk and Calais
will also bring you within a few hours of Bayeux, and our ferry from
Newcastle to Amsterdam
is another option, for those living in the north of England or Scotland.
What to see in Bayeux
Bayeux’s main attraction and most famous possession, at least for UK travellers, is the famous tapestry. The tapestry shows William the Conqueror’s conquest of England in 1066, and includes the infamous image of King Harold Godwin taking an arrow to the eye.
Legend states William the Conqueror’s wife Matilda commissioned and created the tapestry herself, however, it was most likely embroidered in a monastery in the south of England. The truly exceptional character of the Tapestry lies in its size. The full tapestry is around 70 metres long and 50 centimetres high, weighing close to 350kg. The tapestry was listed as a ‘Memory of the World’ by UNESCO in 2007.
These days, the tapestry lies in its own museum, the Notre-Dame cathedral in Bayeux was arguably the original home of the tapestry and where William's half-brother Odo of Bayeux (represented on the tapestry with a wooden club at the Battle of Hastings), would have had it displayed.
Bayeux’s Notre-Dame cathedral also depicts the assassination of English archbishop Thomas à Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, following his courageous opposition to King Henry II's attempts to control the church, yet another link between French and English history.
Bayeux’s botanical gardens date back to 1864. Measuring over 2 hectares, the gardens are open daily, free of charge and many plant specimens from the opening date still remain. Among the 400 mature trees in the garden is a weeping European Beech which was named a French natural monument in 1932 and a Remarkable Tree of France in 2000.
Bayeux was the first French town to be liberated from the German occupation, on the 7th of June 1944. The Battle of Normandy Museum retraces the military and human story of the Battle of Normandy, which was to last from the 7th of June to the 29th of August 1944. Its recently installed scenography offers an insight into purely historical facts, alternating with themed features, 25 minutes of film archives and a 2,000 square metre display including original equipment and uniforms.
Where to stay in Bayeux
Bayeux is no stranger to tourism, and has plenty of hotels, apartments, bed & breakfasts and other places to stay while you visit. Many people will also visit Bayeux on a day trip from nearby Caen. Check our accommodation partner
booking.com for more ideas of where to stay.
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