Day 2: Caen/Bayeux

July 6, 2018

The first lesson of the day was how to eat breakfast like the French. Basically, get some delicious homemade bread, spread some local soft cheeses on it, top that with a bit of fresh jam and — bam! — you’ve got yourself a spectacular culinary wake-up call.

Sea mist coverage was at “split-pea” levels today

After breakfast, we considered taking a quick walk around the cliffs again, but the “sea mist” (warm air mixed with the cold ocean water) created a thick blanket of fog to block any views. Estelle said because the tide was already low, the fog was likely to stick around for a while, so… not a problem, we packed up and got a head start towards Bayeux.

Big bridge on A29 over Seine River delta near Honfleur

Our route to Bayeux took us near the port cities of Le Havre and Honfleur, and then into Caen. As we zipped around the city on the “peripherique route,” it occurred to us that today would be a great time to visit the Caen-Normandie Mémorial, rather than backtrack tomorrow or Sunday. We punched in the new address to the handy GPS and found the museum right away.

Caen-Normandy WWII Memorial Museum

The Caen-Normandie Mémorial is dedicated to the Battle for Normandy and the complete history of WWII. The location has memorial gardens, and is situated above the bunker the 716th German Infantry Division used as the headquarters during the Occupation and the Battle of Normandy. The 70-meter long bunker is still standing as an exhibit, and the museum is literally built on top of it.

The museum features impressive exhibits and audio guides


And an exhaustive level of detail throughout


Poster for the French Liberation movement


Table model of D-Day, aka. Operation Neptune


Rifle on top recovered in 1944… Rifle on bottom found in 2013

After about five informative and occasionally sobering hours, we covered the entire museum, the video presentation, the German bunker, and the extra wing of the museum focusing on how WWII transitioned into the Cold War. We even stopped by the bistro and the book shop.

Delicious D-Day brew for lunch


Bailey Bridge and elevator down to the German bunker


First, this is a terrible idea. Second, all versions of Monopoly should include this warning.

With the Caen Memorial successfully in the books, we continued onward to Bayeux. Keeping with our tradition of coincidentally planning stays in towns with festivals, it turns out our B&B in Bayeux is one block away from the town’s annual Midieval Festival — Les Medievales de Bayeux! Our place is so downtown, we were initially turned away by security guards shutting down the streets for the 8PM parade.

Which brings us to the second lesson of the day… leveraging our printed maps (preparation!) and the French version of our hotel confirmation (bonus preparation!) to convince two friendly security guards to let us past the blockade into the downtown area. After passing that test, we quickly checked in, dropped off our bags, and went out to find the aformentioned parade.

Gothic tower of the Bayeux Cathedral built in 1077


Gathering for the Grand Parade


Prime parade viewing location


Scandinavian music group, Merween… In the chateau!


WON’T SOMEBODY SAVE THE ORPHEONS OF BAYEUX?!? They can sing!!!


The unicorn dog has been hunted to near extinction

After the parade, we walked around the booths a bit and found dinner. We ordered sausage and chicken sandwiches with a couple of cidres (in French!), and although my knowledge of numbers in French is limited to Hamilton lyrics, we eventually managed to pay.

Photo may not do justice to how good this tasted


La Cathedral de Bayeux from the window at our B&B

Enjoying a few more views of the festival and surroundings, we walked back to our room for the night. The festival lasts all weekend, so I’m sure we will find our way back. It is just around the corner, after all.

4 Responses to “Day 2: Caen/Bayeux”

  1. Justice was not served by that picture.
    It did not look good.

  2. So cool, so much bread!

  3. What an interesting day you had. The museum looks very interesting [you do know your Grandpa was stationed at Cambrai which – according to a map I was looking at- is about 3 hours from Normandy] The medieval festival looks fascinating – lol! – kind of like a real time Renaissance festival give or take a few centuries! Your bnb’s look amazing, much less that French bread!!

  4. Wow!

    I’ve never heard of needing to produce a hotel reservation to get anywhere in France, but I have heard that happens in Venice.

    Good timing with the Medieval festival. And excellent timing on the next leg of your trip. I saw a Facebook post that while we are seeing off the Tour de France in Lorient on the 11th, a World Cup match will be playing out so the place will be rolling.

    -Nate

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