Travel Notes: Bayeux and Mont Saint-Michel

I had a lot of fun blogging this summer’s travel adventures, so I figured it would also be fun to take a look back at some past trips. I’m starting with some notes on my 2010 France and Spain trip; this post is one of several in that series.

Our primary purpose in visiting the Normandy region was to see the D-Day beaches (more on those later), but we also had some time to explore more of the region. Visiting Normandy made me realize that I’ve only scratched the surface in France – there are so many more regions I want to see (Burgundy, Provence, the Loire, Dordogne and on and on). Paris is lovely, of course, but it’s not all there is.

Our home base in the region was Bayeux. We arrived in the afternoon and wandered around town for a bit. Our first stop was the cathedral, which is huge and pretty hard to miss. It always amazes me how, in seemingly every small town you visit in Europe, there’s a cathedral, and often a very grand one.

We also spent some time exploring the main street of Bayeux. There were lots of little shops and it was fun to just pop into each and see what we found. I discovered a store that I can only describe as a French countryside Pottery Barn. I wanted to buy everything there!

The town itself was also lovely – lots of pretty flowers, flags, and banners decorated the streets. So charming.

On our second day in the region, we visited the D-Day beaches (again, more on those later). On our third day, we took a day trip to the island fortress of Mont Saint-Michel. Before arriving, we stopped to snap some photos from a good vantage point:

Then, we headed onto the island. We walked up to the monastery from the back (read: tourist-free) path. We then spent awhile exploring the monastery itself before walking down the main path and back into town.

We grabbed a meal in town, and, on our way back to our shuttle van, stopped to watch the omelet-making at La Mere Poulard. I had seen the restaurant featured on Samantha Brown’s show, so I knew I wanted to get a glimpse of it, even though we weren’t going to eat there (30 euro omelet? I think not). It was kind of fascinating (and quite noisy) to watch them rhythmically and rapidly beat the eggs.

In the afternoon, we returned to Bayeux and saw the Bayeux tapestry. I wasn’t too jazzed about seeing a tapestry (doesn’t it sound boring?), but it was actually really cool. First, it’s super old – from the 11th century. Second, it’s really long – about 70 yards. Third, it’s not just random pictures – it tells a chronological story. You get an audio guide that narrates the story for you, and then you can walk along the tapestry and listen while you look at it. I thought it was pretty cool, and it’s incredible that something that is a thousand years old is so well-preserved.

And that was our time in Bayeux and Mont Saint-Michel! One more thing I wanted to mention – there, as in Paris, we ate quite well. We found a restaurant in Bayeux that we loved so much we visited twice – it had a yummy beef bourguignon and delicious desserts. Like this one – mmmm, creme brulee!

We also had a delicious breakfast at a little cafe. I love this picture because, to me, it perfectly captures what I love about France – sitting out at a little outdoors cafe, eating good food, and people watching. What’s better than that?

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