Nestled in the heart of Normandy, Bayeux is a must-visit destination for history buffs, culture lovers, and fans of bucolic landscapes. This charming medieval town is rich in exceptional heritage and offers visitors a journey through time with its cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, and historical monuments. Founded in Roman times and having played a significant role in the Norman conquest of England, Bayeux is also an ideal starting point for exploring the famous D-Day landing beaches in Normandy.
In this guide, we propose a comprehensive itinerary to enjoy all that Bayeux has to offer in just 48 hours. From must-sees such as Bayeux Cathedral and the Bayeux Tapestry to exciting excursions in the surrounding areas, we will help you plan a memorable stay in this iconic Normandy town. Join us for a two-day getaway in Bayeux, where history, culture, and nature meet to provide an unforgettable experience.
Day 1: Morning Exploration of the Historic Heart of Bayeux
Address: Rue du Bienvenu – Bayeux
Opening hours : Open every day from 8.30am to 6pm
After savoring your breakfast, head to the majestic Bayeux Cathedral, located in the heart of the city. This Gothic cathedral, dating from the 11th century, is a true architectural masterpiece and a key monument in Norman history.
Admire the impressive stained glass windows, the soaring vaults, and detailed sculptures adorning both the interior and exterior of the building. Don’t miss the crypt, where you can contemplate medieval frescoes and richly sculpted capitals. The cathedral is also closely linked to the famous Bayeux Tapestry, having served as a display location when it was created in the 11th century. Take the time to soak up the sacred atmosphere and the history that permeates every stone of this iconic cathedral.
Baron Gérard Museum
Address: 65 Rue Larcher – Bayeux
Opening hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm (Closed on Mondays)
Continue your exploration by visiting the Baron Gerard Museum, also known as the MAHB (Musée d’Art et d’Histoire Baron Gerard | Baron Gerard Museum of Art and History). This museum, located in the historic Episcopal Palace, offers a complete journey through the art and history of Bayeux and Normandy. Browse its diverse collections, which include fine arts, ceramics, archaeological artifacts, and lace.
Highlights of the museum include the fascinating Gallo-Roman artifacts, a selection of paintings by renowned artists such as Nicolas Poussin and Gustave Courbet, and an exquisite display of Bayeux lace, a centuries-old local craft.
The museum also provides enlightening information about the region’s history, from Roman times to the present day. Let yourself be captivated by the cultural richness of Bayeux and Normandy by exploring the treasures of the Baron Gerard Museum.
Day 1: Afternoon | Immersion in History
Bayeux Tapestry Museum
Address: 13B Rue de Nesmond – Bayeux
Opening Hours: Open every day from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m
Head to the Bayeux Tapestry Museum to admire this famous medieval piece of art. The Bayeux Tapestry, almost 70 meters long, is actually an embroidery created in the 11th century that narrates the conquest of England by William the Conqueror during the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Observe the detailed scenes and historical characters depicted on the tapestry, such as King Harold II of England and William the Conqueror himself.
The audio guide included in the admission price will allow you to follow the story and learn more about the embroidery techniques, symbols, and meaning of this incredible masterpiece. Visiting the museum is a must-do experience to understand the history of Normandy and the importance of the Bayeux Tapestry in global heritage.
Exploring Old Bayeux
Old Bayeux: After admiring the famous Bayeux Tapestry, immerse yourself in the charming atmosphere of Old Bayeux by strolling through its cobblestone streets and picturesque squares. Admire the medieval architecture and the typical half-timbered houses of the region as you wander through the narrow alleyways. Be sure to visit Place Saint-Patrice, where local markets are regularly held.
Saint-Patrice Church: During your walk, discover Saint-Patrice Church, a flamboyant Gothic building dating from the 14th century. Admire the colorful stained glass and wood sculptures that adorn the interior of the church, and take the time to soak in the peaceful and spiritual atmosphere of the place.
Governor’s House: While exploring Old Bayeux, stop to contemplate the Governor’s House, a historic 15th-century residence now classified as a historical monument. Admire the carved stone facade and the remarkable architectural elements that bear witness to the city’s history and heritage.
End your day by stopping at one of the many cafes or tea rooms in Old Bayeux to savor a hot drink and a local pastry beforehand.
Day 2: Morning at the D-Day Landing Beaches
Arromanches les Bains
Start your second day with the picturesque coastal village of Arromanches-les-Bains. This charming town played a crucial role during the D-Day landings as it was the site of an artificial harbor known as Port Mulberry, which was pivotal to the success of the Allied forces. Enjoy a leisurely walk through the town, admiring the picturesque landscapes, charming shops, and cafes.
Mulberry Artificial Harbor: At Arromanches-les-Bains, don’t miss the opportunity to learn about Port Mulberry and its importance during the Battle of Normandy. This temporary harbor was built by the British and played a crucial role in supplying the Allied forces after the D-Day landings.
You can still see remnants of the harbor, called “Phoenix” caissons, which stand out in the sea at low tide. Visit the nearby Landing Museum, which provides detailed information on the construction, operation, and impact of the harbor on the overall campaign.
Arromanches 360 Circular Cinema: Deepen your understanding of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy by visiting the Arromanches 360 circular cinema. This immersive experience presents a 360-degree film, projected onto nine screens, that combines archival footage and modern images to provide a powerful and moving narrative of the events that unfolded during this crucial moment in history.
Longues sur Mer Battery
On your way, consider making a stop at the Longues-sur-Mer battery before heading to the Normandy American Cemetery. This well-preserved German coastal artillery site played a significant role during the D-Day landings and offers a unique insight into the defensive measures put in place by the German forces.
The Longues-sur-Mer battery consists of four concrete casemates, each housing a 150mm gun, as well as a command post and various support facilities. As you walk around the site, you can observe the original guns still in place and the impressive concrete structures that have stood the test of time. The site also offers a breathtaking view of the coast, including Omaha Beach and Gold Beach, allowing you to better visualize the strategic importance of the battery during the invasion.
Visiting the Longues-sur-Mer battery will not only deepen your understanding of the complexities of the D-Day landings but also tangibly connect you with the past, standing in the very place where history unfolded.
Normandy American Cemetery
After exploring Arromanches, head towards the Normandy American Cemetery, located a short drive away at Colleville-sur-Mer. This beautifully maintained cemetery is the final resting place for 9,387 American soldiers who lost their lives during the Battle of Normandy.
As you walk between the rows of white crosses and Stars of David surrounded by well-kept lawns, you can only be moved by the scale of the sacrifice made by these courageous individuals. Don’t miss the visitor center, which offers an informative exhibition on the events leading up to the invasion, personal stories of the soldiers, and the significance of the cemetery itself.
Day 2: Afternoon – Omaha Beach and Pointe du Hoc
In the afternoon, continue your journey to Omaha Beach, one of the five landing beaches of the Allied forces during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. This beach, stretching over 5 miles (8 km) along the Normandy coast, played a crucial role in World War II and stands as a symbol of the sacrifices made by American, British, and Canadian soldiers.
Stroll along the shoreline and take a moment to reflect on the courage and determination of the men who fought for freedom. Nearby, you will find several museums and memorials dedicated to the events of D-Day, offering a deeper understanding of the historical context and significance of the operation.
Pointe du Hoc
Continue your day by visiting Pointe du Hoc, a strategic site atop a cliff that was captured by the American Army Rangers during the D-Day invasion. The site features the original German bunkers, gun placements, and bomb craters, offering a glimpse into the intensity of the battle that took place here. A monument and a small museum pay tribute to the heroic actions of the Rangers who scaled the 30-meter cliffs under heavy enemy fire.
End your day by returning to Bayeux for a relaxing evening. Reflect on the significant historical events you have explored throughout the day while savoring a delicious meal in one of the town’s many charming restaurants.
After spending two days exploring the rich history and breathtaking sites of Normandy, from the charming town of Bayeux to the landing beaches and the gravely yet inspiring memorials, you will have gained a deeper appreciation for the events that shaped our world. The stories of bravery, sacrifice, and determination resonate beyond the shores of Normandy and serve as a reminder of the importance of preserving peace and understanding our shared history.
As you conclude your journey, take a moment to reflect on the experiences and emotions evoked by your visits to these significant historical sites. By expanding your knowledge and fostering a connection with the past, you can pass on the lessons of history and share them with future generations. Whether you are strolling through the medieval streets of Bayeux, standing on the hallowed ground of the Normandy American Cemetery, or marveling at the engineering feat of the Mulberry Harbor, remember to cherish the privilege of witnessing history firsthand and let it inspire you in your own endeavors.