Bayeux & Normandy – History, Cheese & Cider

After our chaotic exit from Paris, we headed straight towards the coast towards Normandy.  Normandy is known for Camembert and Cider, and is quiet easy to find cider marinated Camembert too… a match made in heaven!

We stayed in Tourneur, approximately 3 hours from Paris.  Thanks to Airbnb we stayed in a big, beautiful old farmhouse, with a huge room.  Our host was lovely… unfortunately we couldn’t really understand each other due to our lack of French and her lack of English.  Not an issue though, we were left to our own devices, and it was a great way to be introduced to Airbnb accommodation.

After spending an hour wandering around the supermarket checking out all the different food (a weird habit of mine, I love seeing what other countries have!) we collected items for a dinner soon to be our staple.  Consisting of local cheese, local wine, local meat & baguette, it was the perfect way to taste our way around France.

It was at this point we noticed there was no cold wine.  I tried asking for some (Avez-vous du vin froid?=Do you have cold wine?) but was told non.  I thought it may have been my pronunciation, but apparently this is normal?!  We soon found a solution to this issue later on in our trip… advice to come!  We grabbed a bottle of cider (also not cold) and a bottle of red, and went on our way.  Luckily we had a mini fridge in our room.

The Normandy cider was in a large 750ml bottle, sealed with a cork like sparkling wine.  French cider is often aged in barrel, and is highly carbonated.  Very affordable, and low in alcohol.  There are 3 types of cider, Cidre Doux (sweet), Demi-Sec (semi-sweet), and Cidre Brut (dry cider).  We went for the Brut, and found it very different to the cider we find here.  Unfortunately we were a bit eager, and didn’t let it get as cold as we should have.  It had a bit of ‘funk’ (in a good way!), & definitely tasted of apples.  It went very well with the Camembert!

The following day we drove to Bayeux. Bayeux is a delightful little town, full of plenty of history.  With a stream running through it, a grand old cathedral & typical cobblestone streets it was just how I pictured regional France.  We just don’t have that kind of history in New Zealand and Australia, and for a couple of tourists it was incredible.  We soon found these small, historical towns were all through France, just beautiful.

After a bit of exploring we found our pièce de résistance, the museum of the Bayeux Tapestry, or in French, Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux.  This is one of the 3 museums in Bayeux, the other two being an art museum & a war museum with the history of WWI & WWII.  There is a discount if you buy tickets to 2 or more of the museums at the same time.  Entry to just the Bayeux Tapestry Museum is 9.50 Euro per person (approx AUD14.00).

The Bayeux Tapestry is hand woven, 70m long, and depicts the events leading up to, and including, the Battle of Hastings in 1066, 950 years before our visit.  In short, it shows how William, Duke of Normandy (commonly known as King William the Conqueror) was requested to be king, and how he was betrayed by his cousin in law, Harold, Earl of Wessex (and eventually King of England).  This was particularly interesting to us as Hungry Husbands family is direct descendants of King William.

Our ticket to the tapestry included an audio guide which was very handy, well paced, had an automatic start, and explained what was going on in the tapestry itself.  After viewing the tapestry with the audio guide we went back to the start, as it was interesting looking at it with no commentary.  There were plenty of interesting images which showed those stitching it had a sense of humour, like a naked couple arguing, or the odd male genital shot.  We both enjoyed it, and were glad we made the detour to see this incredible piece of history.

From Bayeux we headed towards our next stop, the Loire Valley.

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