If you plan to tour the beaches and battlefields in Normandy, where the Allies landed on D-Day, June 6, 1944, chances are you will visit the medieval town of Bayeux, France. Though it’s a small town, there are plenty of things to do in Bayeux. In addition to strolling the streets and perusing the shops and restaurants, you should try to catch the Bayeux light show at the Bayeux Cathedral. Additionally, consider touring the Bayeux Museum.
The Bayeux Cathedral was consecrated in 1077, and the Bayeux Museum displays a UNESCO tapestry from the 11th century. Moreover, Bayeux is the perfect place to spend a few days during your trip. It’s conveniently located within a 20 to 45-minute drive to Sainte-Mère-Eglise, the World War II beaches, and the Normandy American Cemetery.
Check out this post for more details on must-see places in Bayeux. Additionally, you will find information on an excellent restaurant where they serve top-notch Dover sole. Also, we stayed at the Grand Hotel du Luxembourg, and I will give you my thoughts on that.
Bayeux Escaped World War II Bombings
Most war-ravaged towns may still have historic remains. But, not only does Bayeux date back to the first century, you will find original medieval half-timbered buildings and large stone manor homes too. These historic homes that populate old town had survived World War II virtually unscathed.
Fortunately, the Germans evacuated Bayeux on June 6, 1944, and the Allies focused on other targets. Most importantly, the Allies liberated Bayeux a day later on June 7, and it’s celebrated as the first town freed from German control in Continental France.
Grand Hotel du Luxembourg
We booked our trip to Bayeux a few days before our World War II tour. After a little research, we chose the Grand Hotel du Luxembourg for our one-night stay. In our estimation, the Grand Hotel du Luxembourg was not a four-star hotel, but for our purposes, it served us well for one night.
Though the hotel was not fancy, it had a charming lobby. Plus amenities included a pool. Furthermore, the hotel was centrally located within walking distance of the Bayeux Cathedral, the Bayeux Museum, and shops and restaurants in old town.
But most importantly, our room was clean. We booked a room that held one bed and the hotel staff brought us a cot to accommodate our son who traveled with my husband and me. It was fine for one night, but if we were staying longer, we would have booked our son in another room.
Additionally, they offered a continental breakfast. We appreciated the quick breakfast before heading out for our eight-hour tour of the Normandy beaches and battlefields.
Restaurant Le Drakkar
We checked into the hotel around 6:30 on a Tuesday and headed down the cobblestone streets hoping to find a restaurant for dinner. As luck would have it since we didn’t have reservations, we tried several places that were already booked. Moreover, we avoided several restaurants because they looked touristy with foreign customers, like us. If we found restaurants packed with patrons carrying cameras and bags we didn’t go in. Like anywhere else, the locals know the best restaurants.
We reluctantly moseyed into a noisy, casual restaurant that advertised pizza. Though they offered outdoor seating, it reminded me of a pub. We had skipped lunch, and a pizza restaurant was not on our agenda.
I have to admit, that we had the wrong first impression of Restaurant Le Drakkar. Moreover, I had expectations of a long wait because I didn’t spot any open tables. Plus, I watched a limited number of waitresses scurry through the restaurant taking orders and serving food.
Surprisingly, the hostess sat us quickly. After our long day, we relaxed and ordered drinks. Then, my husband and I ordered the grilled Dover sole.
Previously, I had only eaten Dover sole meunière where the chef sautés it in butter and lemon. My husband and I usually order Dover sole whenever a restaurant offers it on their menu. Up until that day, we felt that we had dined on the very best sole in Lutèce restaurant in Manhattan. Also, our son ordered the seafood pizza.
Superb Dover Sole
We were wrong. Until we had visited Bayeux, France, we had never feasted on grilled Dover sole straight from the English Channel as we had at Restaurant Le Drakkar. Moreover, our son, who is a seafood pizza aficionado, raved that nothing compared to his meal.
Therefore, if you visit Bayeux, do yourself a favor and stop in Le Drakkar. I hope that you enjoy the restaurant. If you take my advice, please let me know if your dining experience measures up to ours.
Bayeux Cathedral or Notre-Dame Cathedral
While in Bayeux, duck in the Bayeux Cathedral where William the Conqueror attended the Cathedral’s consecration in 1077. The Bayeux Cathedral or the Notre-Dame Cathedral is an example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Attributes of Romanesque are massive piers and rounded arches, and pointed arches and elaborate tracery are examples of Gothic design. If you have time, take one of their guided tours. Check here for more information and below.
Guided tours begin on July 3, until September 1. Monday to Fridays from 10 a.m. until 2:15 p.m.
Bayeux Light Show
When we walked the streets of Bayeux, France, we happened upon the Bayeux light show at the cathedral entitled “RENDEZ-VOUS À LA CATHÉDRALE, LES LUMIÈRES DE LA LIBERTÉ.”
As we listened to ten stories celebrating France’s path to freedom and liberty, colors painted the “Tree of Liberty” and the Bayeux Cathedral in iridescent hues of red, pink, purple, green, blue, white, orange and gold. We had never seen anything like the Bayeux light show.
Tree of Liberty
Most importantly, in the French language, these stories commemorated the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, the Allied landings, the freedom of the press, the freedom to love,” and more.
The show was a pleasant addition to our Normandy trip. This year’s free light show runs from July 17 to September 1, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. They begin at dusk.
To sum up, since Bayeux, France, escaped destruction from World War II, it’s steeped in history with lavish historic buildings. Furthermore, it’s an excellent starting and stopping point if you are touring the Normandy World War II battlefields and the Normandy American Cemetery.
In Bayeux, there are plenty of restaurants, and there’s enough to see and do to keep you busy for a few days.
What is your favorite place in Bayeux? Have you ever experienced the Bayeux light show?