Bayeux, just a few kilometers inland from the English Channel, is a petite French village that is home to a rather grand piece of history. Its claim to fame is the centuries-old Bayeux Tapestry on display in its own museum in the center of town.
Apparantly not everyone is an enthralled with the tapestry as I was, as I've read it is currently best known for its ties with World War II. Bayeux was the first non-coastal town liberated, one day after the D-Day invasion but remarkably was spared the bomb damage which devastated so much of Europe (thanks to pleas from its clergy to the Allies). The old town has retained an enchanting medieval character with its famous Cathedrale Notre-Dame which was inaugurated by William the Conqueror himself, a native of the region, in 1077 A.D.
The cathedral has been damaged by fires, repaired and expanded over the years. Inside it has magnificent arches, high ceilings and large stained glass windows. Outside it has flying buttresses which support the magnificent building.
The narrow curving streets of the village have charming shops and cafes and are very pleasant to stroll around although we'd still be there going in circles had I been driving.
For our visit to the tapestry we each had an audio guide which explains the details of the tapestry as you view it. I did feel that the audio guides are on speed mode to pump through as many people as possible. As we were unable to stop or pause the audioguide, we had to continue walking from each numbered spot to the next. It would’ve been much better to be able to press play, pause it then have a look then start again but this would’ve started a backup of people if it was busy. Lucky for us, it was far from busy while we were there and we could lean forward over the barrier to peer at the stitchwork up close. It's a remarkable work of art.
The tapestry is 66 metres (over 200 feet) long and about 50 centimetres (around 20 inches) wide and has roughly 50 scenes on it. The scenes are embroidered on linen with coloured woollen yarns. There are additional details in the top and bottom borders. It is likely that it was commissioned by William the Conquerer's half-brother, and made in England—not Bayeux—in the 1070s. It tells the story of events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, concerning William Duke of Normandy and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England and culminating in the Battle of Hastings. The detail is amazing with all sorts of gory details of battle shown even Harold with a Golden Arrow in his eye.
Photography of the tapestry was not permitted but I've found a couple of photos online: