Sunday, November 1, 2015

Bayeux

The Bayeux Tapestry is what attracted us to this area of Normandy in northwest France, although we found a heck of a lot more there to see.  My brother recommended a book about the tapestry for me to read before I left home.  Unlike when I was at school, I now find it a good idea to do my homework. 

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:
 

7 comments:

  1. History in pictures, during a time when most people could not read. The detail work looks fabulous!

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  2. I should have gone to see this but....There are too many buts.

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  3. These pictures are fabulous Pauline,,, but I can see I have some serious catching up to do on your blog! Hope you are all well.

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  4. Now I have a wonderful reason to return to France. Not sure if I would be comfortable driving about.

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  5. What a spectacular old cathedral...so majestic!

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  6. How charming and wonderful! I can appreciate a history lesson like this!

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  7. I really must pay a visit to Bayeux even though, to be honest, the tapestry is only of historical interest to me. By the way did you know that it's not actually a tapestry? It's an embroidery. The things one learns watching QI.

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