Today was the day to visit Bayeux, obviously to see the tapestry, but also other delights which might present themselves.
We started with a look at the cathedral. This was fairly interesting and the crypt contains some medieval paintings which Dad spent some time trying to photograph in the poor light where flash is not permitted.
Moving on to the tapestry, the good news was that there wasn’t too much of a queue. The tapestry is well displayed – indeed probably rather better than when Dad last saw it more than 40 years ago. The bad news was that the audio guides with which everyone was supplied didn’t have a pause button. For Dad this was of course a complete disaster as he wanted to look at every detail and was soon well behind the commentary. At this point he just gave up with the guide. Mum and Sophia were rather cleverer. They followed along with the guide and then walked all the way back round the 70m of tapestry to look at it again.
The Bayeux town museum was in a similar vein to the one in Caen but not as interesting. There was a reasonable selection of paintings, but they were all rather second rate. At one point Dad’s eye was caught by one that looked like the work of his favourite, Hans Holbine the Younger but when he scurried up to it he found a notice saying it was by one of his assistants. It was however still probably the best painting there. The other highlight worth seeing was a wonderfully decorated old chapel at one end of the museum.
One final point of note it that Bayeux had undoubtedly the most expensive parking of the trip.
Today we intended to visit the zoo, but on the way there it rained heavily so we decided to visit Caen instead.
Caen is a big city and Dad did quite a bit if hyperventilating as he tried to drive to the centre and park. In the end we found a central underground car park which wasn’t too expensive.
Dad and Sophia started by heading for a large ruined church near the centre. Bizarrely, this was not only completely fenced off, but there were no signs anywhere to indicate what it was called or why it was ruined. Subsequent research showed that it is the Church of Saint Etienne-le-Vieux which hasn’t been in good repair since the 100 year war! It is a pity that the city of Caen cannot erect a modest sign to this effect.
After a modest lunch, Dad headed for the castle whilst the others headed for the shops. The castle turned out to be free to enter, but there was a charge for the two museums in the grounds. Dad opted for the local history museum over the modern art one.
The museum followed the familiar pattern of starting with flint tools and working up to local industry of the last century. It had some excellent Roman artefacts including a fascinating coin collection, but the highlight was certainly the display on lace making. Dad remains completely amazed by the intricacy of this process.
Today we had a bit of a lie in and then went over to have a look at the local town, Vire. Dad strongly approved of their parking policy which seemed to be the novel idea of having large free car parks in the middle of the town!
After lunch – where Dad got into the swing of being in France by opting for Moule Mariniere – we had a look round. Unfortunately, the extensive town museum was closed for even more extensive renovation! But we did manage to have a reasonable look round the centre and visit the cathedral..
The start of our summer holiday in Normandy. After depositing Gordon at the cat hotel we made our way to Poole to catch the ferry.
There weren’t many passengers which made the advantage of our cabin rather less than it might have been, never the less it was handy having somewhere to retreat to and it also allowed us to keep the cool box plugged in to keep the sandwiches chilled. We ate on the ferry as we were intending to eat our sandwiches on the drive to the cottage.
On arrival in Cherbourg, Garry the Garmin showed his normal behaviour by selecting weird routes. The initial route involved a huge detour and the second rather shorter one had the tendency to leave a main road, wend through a town and then re-join the road we had left. Needless to say this tended to waste a lot of time! Fortunately, Sophia managed to get the hang of the paper map and spot some of these detours in advance.
As always when in France, Dad found driving rather stressful. Fortunately, there was very little traffic.
We stopped to eat our sandwiches in Pont-Hébert where, to Sophia’s delight there was a pizza dispensing machine. We didn’t use it, but it was a joy to observe such a technological advance.
We arrived at the cottage at about 2215. The hostess (confusingly also called Marina) spoke good English and also excellent Russian.