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Bayeux, a Gateway to Normandy

After Paris, I decided to go up to Normandy, mostly because I was interested in seeing the D-Day landing beaches, and also wanted to see more of France.

Only 3 hours away from Paris, and with roughly 60,000 residents, Bayeux is almost the polar opposite of busy Paris. Visiting Bayeux, I did not worry about getting lost as there was one main street that started from the town square and was next to the Cathedral. Even though a very small town, Bayeux has a beautiful cathedral, Notre-Dame de Bayeux.

Cathedral Notre-Dame de Bayeux

However small, Bayeux charms me with its unique vibes. Birds chirping replaces the engines vrooming and people rushing through. It gets quiet after 20h, yet does not lose its loveliness even one bit. More importantly, I was freed from the fear of being pickpocketed as there was no one in a 20-meters radius, and I enjoyed crossing the streets without having to look left and right. The town is filled with narrow windy cobblestone streets and rustic and rough-surfaced stone houses, with which, Bayeux shows the historic French architecture and a suburban lifestyle. Moreover, Bayeux offers satisfying traditional French and local cuisine, and cheaper macaroons.

Yet, Bayeux is more than a lovely, slow-paced town; it is filled with history as it is. The Bayeux Tapestry stretches just under 70m long, depicting an epic battle of the William the Conqueror. The Tapestry is said to be made in 1066. Given the time, it’s more than amazing how detailed the figures are. For example, different colors were used to create a better dimension to show the massiveness of the troops, and the hair on the horses can be an indicator of the wind. Beyond Bayeux Tapestry, MAHB, Museum of Art&Histroy, tells a vivid story of Bayeux with paintings and artifacts from every century, and the Memorial of the Battle of Normandy presents details of the D-Day landing and many battles after the landing day that led to the final liberation.

A day was dedicated to visiting D-Day landing beaches. Hearing the tales and legends of what happened on D-Day, I realized more and more the courage of those men, as well as the careful planning from the allies. Due to the weather conditions, pilots could not find marks on the ground, and paratroopers’ landings were scattered around the town, and face German soldiers on their own; the rough English channel could not deliver the rangers to the correct starting point, and the bombings were dropped too far away from the enemies, leaving the German soldiers stayed well intact. However, the allies still managed to take the beach, because there were men who led tanks through the mined field, and there were men who continued fighting only wish not to die on that beach, making Omaha bloodier.

Omaha Beach. American Troop’s Landing

It is amazing to see how beautiful the beaches are today, and how people come here to enjoy their vacation. Some people say it is a sign of disrespect to history. But I think instead, we should enjoy this freedom. Because of the sacrifices of those courageous men, we are able to walk on this beach and enjoy the freedom they fought for.

American Cemetary, next to Omaha Beach

Normandy tells and remembers the battles, the sacrifices of every man in exchange for our liberation.

Think not only upon their passing. Remember the glory of their spirit

I appreciated visiting the D-Day beaches and the American Cemetary to remember the historical event, and I appreciated that so many people chose to do the same.

Staying at Bayeux, not only was I able to revisit history but also got a taste of a much slower pace of life. Very much, I enjoyed sitting on the terrace with coffee even when I did not need the caffeine. Slowly, I learned to have a three-course for 2 or 3 hours, even in the middle of the day. Gradually, I started to know Brioche Normandie is my favorite pastry (okay, maybe one of them).

Typical one-way street in Bayeux
Cider is Everywhere in Bayeux

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