Bayeux, a picturesque town in the Normandy region of France, is renowned for its medieval tapestry and its unique history during World War II. Unlike many surrounding towns, Bayeux remarkably survived the war with minimal damage.
Early War Years and Occupation
At the outset of World War II, Bayeux, like the rest of France, fell under German occupation. However, the town did not witness any major conflict or destructive action during this period. The German forces controlled the region, with the town's daily life largely dictated by the occupiers.
D-Day and Liberation
The pivotal moment came on June 6, 1944, better known as D-Day. The largest amphibious invasion in history, led by Allied forces, targeted the Normandy beaches. Bayeux, located just a few miles inland, was spared the direct onslaught of the initial landings. On June 7, British troops from the 56th Infantry Brigade, part of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, entered Bayeux, making it one of the first towns in France to be liberated.
Following the liberation, Bayeux served as a key logistics hub for the Allies. Its intact infrastructure facilitated the passage of troops and materials. Interestingly, the town also temporarily became the capital of Free France when Charles de Gaulle visited and made a historic speech in the public square on June 14, 1944.
Bayeux during World War II is unique
The history of Bayeux during World War II is unique in that the town emerged virtually unscathed, preserving its architectural heritage. Today, the town is home to the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum and the British War Cemetery, paying tribute to its history and the soldiers who fought for liberation. The spirit of resilience and preservation that marked Bayeux's experience during World War II continues to define the town to this day.
The essentials to discover in Bayeux
Bayeux, a town rich in a diverse, surprising, and well-preserved heritage, holds one of history's most magnificent works amidst an authentic setting. Here are the key attractions you can explore:
This majestic Norman edifice towers over the city of Bayeux. Take time to appreciate the abundance of sculptures within the cathedral. Inaugurated in 1077 by William the Conqueror, the cathedral is also famed for its tapestry.
Baron Gerard Museum
The Baron Gerard Museum is an excellent starting point for discovering Bayeux. Housed in the former Episcopal Palace, this museum showcases its finest collections of local arts and crafts.
Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum
This museum offers a detailed account of the events that left a mark on Bayeux, from D-Day to the Germans' departure. It's noteworthy that the British military cemetery here holds more than 4,500 soldiers' graves.
Known for its 40-meter weeping beech, classified as a "Remarkable Tree of France," this garden was designed in 1859 by the renowned landscape designers of the era, the Bühler brothers. It's a landscaped park sprawling over more than 2.5 hectares.
3 good places to eat in Bayeux
If you're traversing Bayeux and feel a bit peckish after exploring the city, here are some eateries we suggest for a delightful culinary experience:
Situated at the foot of the cathedral, The Alcove presents a superb menu. The dishes, crafted from fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, surprise and delight with their unique combinations. With options ranging from appetizer to dessert, vegetarian choices are plentiful.
Alchemy is a fantastic discovery for your stay in Bayeux. It truly emphasizes the art of fine dining in a warm, extraordinary setting. Unusual flavors and well-seasoned dishes await your palate. High-quality products and expertly crafted recipes offer a perfect balance between indulgence and lightness, delivering a delightful gustatory experience.
This superb restaurant immediately immerses you in the comforting atmosphere of your grandmother's kitchen. Don't miss the raspberry jasmine iced tea – a true delight. Dishes are vibrant, deliciously crunchy, and exceptionally fresh. To ensure a pleasant dining experience, remember to book your table in advance as Chez Paulette is very popular.
Transport by private car from Paris to Bayeux
Bayeux is located more than 276.1 km from Orly Airport and 281.4 km to get from CDG Airport to Bayeux . If you want to go there with your family, we suggest you drive in a comfortable van.