Bayeux Revisited

Bayeaux is a small city about 17km from the Normandy coast.  It is a beautiful place with narrow cobblestone streets.  The homes are reminiscent of old France.


IMG_1965Bayeaux is a very old city, dating back to the 1st Century BC, known as Augustodurum when it was part of the Gallo-Roman Empire.  The city became part of the Roman Empire in the 5th Century.  It was later occupied by the Vikings from the 9th Century AD to about the 10th Century AD.  It was liberated by the Normans in the 12th Century, and was under the rule of William the Conqueror’s half brother Odo, Earl of Kent, who was instrumental in the construction of Notre Dame Cathedral de Bayeux and dedicated the Cathedral in 1077. IMG_1977

I can’t decide whether I like the black and white image of Notre Dame better, what do you think?

IMG_1977 bwBayeaux was then conquered by King Henry I of England after his father’s death in 1087 (Henry I was the son of William the Conqueror), and the city didn’t gain independence from England until 1450 by Charles VII of France.  It then prospered and grew to the present day.

During World War II, Bayeaux was the first city of the Battle of Normandy to be liberated.  On 16 June 1944, Charles de Gaulle made the first of two major speeches in which he made clear that France sided with the Allies.

IMG_1949The city was virtually untouched during the Battle of Normandy, since the German forces were fully involved defending Caen from the Allies.  The Bayeaux War Cemetery has the largest British cemetery dating to World War II in France.

On 5 June every year, at 1530 hrs (3:30pm for the rest of us), the Royal British Legion National attends a beating retreat ceremony at the cemetery.

On 6 June, at 1015 hrs (10:15am), there is a remembrance service in the Notre Dame Cathedral.  This year, French President Emmanuel Macron and British PM Theresa May were in attendance.  We happened to be there about an hour or two before their arrival, but we were unaware of this, so we left for Omaha Beach.


I think that soldier in the far right corner is giving me a strange look, trying to decide what I’m up to, I guess.IMG_3553.JPGThis soldier was in the right place at the right time, since he looks to be joining his counterparts behind him in the window, smelling the wonderful food.




Omaha Beach

It’s hard to believe that I’m in Normandy, on Omaha Beach a couple of days before anniversary of D-Day. The weather was similar to the conditions of 5 June, 1944, raining, foggy and rough seas-not a good day for an invasion from the sea.

Yes, that is the ocean barely visible in the fog and rain. This is Omaha Beach off in the distance, taken from the American Cemetery

Rows upon rows of honored dead that fought and died for freedom for everyone. The cost was 8,500 lives given at these beaches so their brothers in arms could advance to save France, Germany and the rest of the world from a dictator trying to conquer the world. They deserve our remembrance and honor for their sacrifice.

There will be a huge gathering today (D-Day) at this cemetery of world leaders and other dignitaries to mark the 75th anniversary of Operation Overlord and mark the invasion of occupied France to liberate it from the enemy. This is also why we went there yesterday, so we wouldn’t have to deal with the crowds and security.

This is looking at the stage from the back row of the seats setup for this event. (Be glad you didn’t set these chairs up, just saying…)

In Bayeux while having breakfast, there were military personnel and police everywhere and a bagpipe band rehearsing nearby getting ready for the arrival of some dignitary. They were surrounding the entrance of Notre Dame cathedral (yes, there’s one here that dates back to William the Conquerer). I’ll do a post on this later.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Everywhere on the roads were WWII era jeeps, troop transports, officers transports, motorbikes, etc. it was almost like the liberation operation was still on going.

Later we went to Dead Man’s Corner and the D-Day Experience Museum.

I’ll do posts later on each of these separately. Needless to say they were fascinating and what went on here heart wrenching.