Today, I am taking you to my hometown, Bayeux.
Bayeux is a charming town with an 11th-century Gothic cathedral, cobblestone streets, old houses, among other things.
There is so much to do in Bayeux, and it is a city of significant historical importance.
It is known as the first major city in metropolitan France to be liberated by the Allies during World War II, and unlike the city of Caen, it was indeed preserved from World War II. This means that you can admire beautiful old buildings.
Before the war, Bayeux was primarily known for its Tapestry, a nearly 68-meter long embroidered cloth depicting William the Conqueror’s ‘battle for the throne’.
Bayeux is also the ideal base for visiting D-Day landing sites such as the town of Arromanches, Omaha Beach, or the Longues-sur-Mer battery.
I also recommend a visit to Caen, just a few kilometers away.
In the city, there is also so much to explore and discover.
So, here’s how to fill your travel itinerary in Bayeux when you’re not exploring nearby D-Day sites.
1. The Bayeux Tapestry Museum
Imagine going to Paris without even seeing the Eiffel Tower. It’s kind of the same thing with the Bayeux Tapestry! It is a must-see on any trip to Bayeux.
What is the Bayeux Tapestry?
The Bayeux Tapestry is a 68-meter long embroidered cloth that tells the story of William the Conqueror’s battle for the English throne, which ultimately led to the Battle of Hastings and the Norman conquest of England in 1066.
No one knows who created the tapestry, but almost everyone agrees that it was created shortly after the conquest. Regardless of its origin, this masterpiece is still in good condition nearly a thousand years later!
What to see at the Bayeux Tapestry
To preserve the tapestry, curators delicately hang it in a dark room in a museum. It is not allowed to take pictures.
Take an audio guide to learn what each scene represents and to better understand the battle for the throne.
After seeing the tapestry, which takes about 15 to 20 minutes, visit the second floor to see exhibits depicting life during this period and replicas of armor and Viking ships.
Check the museum’s website for updated opening hours. Note that the museum closes during the month of January.
In 2007, UNESCO listed the Bayeux Tapestry in the Memory of the World Register, a program for preserving documentary heritage.
- Address: 13 bis rue de Nesmond, 14400 Bayeux
- Open every day from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM ; 14:00 PM to 18:00 PM
- Price: 9.50 € full price, 7.50 € reduced price, 5 € students, free for under 10 years old
- The audioguide is available in 16 different languages
2. The Bayeux Cathedral
The second thing to see in Bayeux is the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Bayeux. It was built in the 11th century and was consecrated in the presence of William the Conqueror.
The complex Gothic exterior is just as impressive as the beautiful stained glass and massive columns inside.
Make sure to visit the crypt inside and walk around the entire perimeter outside. There is a lovely courtyard next to the cathedral with the tree of liberty, a symbol of the French Revolution, still standing where it was first planted in the 18th century.
The cathedral is also the original home of the Bayeux Tapestry.
Light Show of the Bayeux Cathedral
If you are visiting Bayeux from late November to December, the tourist office organizes a free ‘Bayeux Tapestry’ light show in the cathedral on Saturday evenings.
This 30-minute digital show brings the tapestry to life through animation and narration. The show is in French, it’s totally free, no reservation required!
- Address: Rue du Bienvenu, 14400 Bayeux
- Open every day from 8:30 AM
- Closes at 5:00 PM from January to March; 6:00 PM from April – June / October – December; 7:00 PM July – September
- Free entry
- Guided tours available at 3:00 PM; €4 for adults, free for children under 15
- Visit the website here
Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum
The Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum is your gateway to the historic D-Day landing beaches in Normandy.
Spanning over 2300 square meters, this museum offers a deep dive into the historic battle that unfolded in Normandy during World War II.
The museum boasts an extensive collection of World War II military equipment, uniforms, and artifacts.
In addition, visitors can access a wealth of maps, audio, and video materials that chronicle the day-by-day progression of the Allied invasion.
- Address: Boulevard Fabian Ware, 14400 Bayeux, Normandy
- Opening hours: Every day from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM; 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM; May – September open every day from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM
- Admission: 7€ for adults, 5.50€ for children, free for children under 10 years old
4. Walking tour in the old town of Bayeux
While many Norman cities were devastated during World War II, Bayeux miraculously emerged unscathed, preserving a picturesque old town gently traversed by the tranquil River Aure.
Be sure to see the historic water wheel, a notable landmark of Bayeux that features in many city photographs and contributes to Bayeux’s unique charm. Do not forget to stroll along the Grande Rue and Rue Saint Jean, where you can admire ancient buildings, including the Bayeux Tourist Office. Remember to look up to observe the architectural details.
Grab a map from the Bayeux Tourist Office and embark on a self-guided walking tour. Numbered historical plaques with explanations in French mark the major sites of interest throughout the city.
5. Visit the Baron Gerard Museum
Located in the former Episcopal palace of the Bishop of Bayeux, the Baron Gerard Museum has been in existence since 1900.
The museum boasts a diverse collection of Bayeux’s artworks, archaeological finds, porcelain, and Bayeux lace.
One of the most notable artworks on display is Gustave Caillebotte’s 1876 piece ‘Portraits in the Countryside’, alongside works from other famous French painters such as Eugène Boudin, Camille Corot, François Boucher, and more.
- Address: 37 Rue du Bienvenu, 14400 Bayeux, Normandy
- Opening hours: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
- Admission: 7€
6. Longues-sur-Mer Battery
Located about 10 kilometers directly north of Bayeux, the Longues-sur-Mer Battery is a historically significant site open free of charge. It is the only German coastal defense battery listed as a historic monument on the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy.
Some of the cannons remain intact within massive concrete casemates, and you can also see the command post and the soldiers’ quarters.
Although public transportation options are limited, it is possible to get there by car. The site is often included in guided tours of the D-Day beaches and sites in Normandy. Guided tours can also be booked on-site.
7. Bayeux War Cemetery
The Bayeux British War Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in France, dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives during World War II.
With over 4,500 graves, this solemn site pays tribute to the region’s history and the memory of the thousands of individuals who fought in the conflict. Visit this site to pay your respects and remember the significant events of World War II.
- Address: 1945 Boulevard Fabian Ware, 14400 Bayeux, Normandy
- Opening hours: Every day
- Admission: Free
8. The Botanical Garden
Listed as a Historical Monument, the Bayeux Botanical Garden is a fantastic option for spending a pleasant afternoon outdoors.
This landscaped garden was designed by the famous landscaper Eugène Bühler and features informative signs along its paths, allowing visitors to identify different species of trees and plants. Among them, the spectacular weeping beech, which measures 40 meters in diameter and has been classified as a natural monument since 1932.
9. Viard Cider House
The Viard Cider House, located about 3 kilometers from the town of Bayeux, is famous for its production of apple juice, cider, sweet and rose cider, Perry and organic apple juice, apple jelly, cider vinegar, pommeau and Calvados.
It is the oldest cider house in the French family. The Viard Cider House offers tasting tours and a shop that also sells their products. Discover the authentic flavors of Bayeux by visiting the Viard Cider House.
- Address: Marcel Viard Cider House, 135 Cider Road, Gueron, Bayeux
- Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
- Admission: 3 €
Many tourists use Bayeux as a base to visit the D-Day beaches, including Arromanches or Omaha Beach, but also the Longues-sur-Mer Battery a few kilometers away.
I recommend a walking tour of the old quarter with Saint Jean Street where you will find the tourist office. The Tapestry and the Cathedral are must-sees in Bayeux.