Bayeux Tapestry Museum#11 in Best Things To Do in Normandy
You might ask why on earth would you make a stop to see a tapestry when Camembert cheese, hard cider and the rolling Normandy hills are beckoning? Well, because the Bayeux Tapestry, an astonishingly long and beautifully made work of art, chronicles the 1066 Battle of Hastings.
The approximately 230-foot-long tapestry is displayed in a dark room with special lighting, so you can see every detail. Though it's described as a tapestry, it is actually linen cloth embroidered with wool thread. In another room of the museum, a permanent exhibition describes how it was made and gives an overview of the historical context and the Anglo-Norman kingdom in the 11th century. There is also a short 16-minute film, which details the making of the tapestry and includes reconstructions of scenes from the Battle of Hastings.
Past visitors called the almost 1,000-year-old tapestry awe-inspiring and an absolute must-see. Others praised the accompanying audio guide available in 16 languages, which also includes age-appropriate commentary for children (available only in English and French).
The museum is located less than a 10-minute walk north of the Gare de Bayeux station. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from Feb. 1 through Dec. 31 (with abbreviated hours in the winter), the museum charges 9.50 euros (about $10.50) to view this tapisserie. For more information, visit the museum's website.
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#1 D-Day Beaches
World War II's successful Operation Overlord took place on the coast of France. Although there were heavy Allied casualties, this invasion turned the tide in the war and helped lead to the fall of Nazi Germany. Today this piece of coastline, which includes Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah beaches, is collectively known as the D-Day Beaches.
Visitors can tour the approximately 50-mile stretch of sand and pop by a number of museums, memorials and cemeteries that are spread out alongside the coastline either with a tour or on their own. If you're driving yourself, start in the town of Arromanches, which hosts two museums that help provide context for the battle sites. The American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer and the Pointe-du-Hoc bomb craters are also especially moving. If you'd rather let someone else do the driving, recent visitors recommend going with a tour guide to fully appreciate the area's historic importance and receive a comprehensive overview. If you're visiting in June, you'll likely come across several ceremonies and reenactment groups commemorating the anniversary. Thanks to Normandy's unpredictable weather, you'll want to dress in layers (no matter the time of your visit) and bring rain gear, according to past visitors.
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