Starting day 3 I had already driven 641 miles and by the end of the day I would have added another 391.
Admittedly a lot of driving, but remember I was using the “getting there” as a large part of my holiday as I’d be on minor roads, seeing the real France. Hopefully.
I soon discovered that one of the (few) advantages of booking into basic hotel rooms on this trip was that the lack of furniture meant it was really easy to be sure I’d left nothing behind when leaving each morning. After breakfast I’d pack my cases, stand by the door and with one quick glance, it was pretty obvious that I’d packed everything !!
But first, breakfast. Again, pretty basic but then I wasn’t planning on expending much energy today.
After breakfast, I set off from the Bayeux Ibis hotel at 09:25 and drove the few miles into the city centre to see the famous tapestry. I’d researched the best parking place as the Parc Michel Ornano on the Boulevard Sadi Carnot as it was just a short walk to the museum and was also free ! Win, win.
When I arrived, I saw that a few months earlier, they’d decided to charge for parking but it was only 40c for each 15 mins so not exactly bank breaking. A few minutes later I was in the museum with no queues for admittance to the tapestry room. This was because visitors were given audio guides which had a dual purpose – they explained the evolving story of the 1066 Battle of Hastings depicted on the tapestry as you walked along and in doing so, they kept people moving at a fair pace or you’d fall behind the audio description.
I didn’t time how long the process took but although I never felt particularly rushed, there were a few times I had to overtake some groups who were either happy to get out of sync with the audio or weren’t bothering with it at all and just moving at their own pace. Despite the signs stating no photography and the darkness inside the tapestry room, I wasn’t going to let either of those stop me getting a record of my visit.
So right at the end, with the tapestry depicting the scene where King Harold gets the point of a French arrow with fatal results, I put my little compact camera onto its “museum” setting (no flash but a slow shutter speed) and took this photo.
Yes, there is some dude getting an arrow in his eye in my photo but sadly in the darkness of the tapestry room and my haste in taking the photo so I’d not be spotted, I didn’t get the panel depicting King Harold !
Oh well. It was somewhere to the left of my photo….or maybe the right !
Anyway I left the museum and went to look at the nearby 11th century Bayeux Cathedral, another one called Notre-Dame.
The French aren’t very adventurous when it comes to naming religious buildings.
This visit tied in with the tapestry as the oath that King Harold broke which in turn led to the Battle of Hastings was taken in this Cathedral.
It was just an “ok” Cathedral, a bit cold and impersonal but then many are like that. Usually visits to the crypts are not free but this one was both free and empty of other visitors so I was able to take a decent photo down there.
I think it looks suitably creepy……or should that be…..cryptic.
Back at the car I’d only been parked for 75 mins and so the cost was 2 euros. A good deal.
Then I set off on the long drive to the next hotel. My first stop along the route was to see Mont Saint Michel, an island commune off the Normandy coast. One of France’s most recognizable landmarks, Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites and more than 3 million people visit it each year.
Sadly over the years access to the island has been less spontaneous and much more organised. The whole area near it is a large car park and I felt the only way to get onto the island was to get on a shuttle that took visitors from the car park. Going onto the island was never part of my plan so as I only wanted to get some photos, I did this from the main road.
I know this view doesn’t show it as an island but trust me, between this field and the structure is water.
By now it was after 1pm and my stomach was telling me that breakfast had been a long time ago. After about another hour I came upon what was basically a roadside cafe and had what was probably the best meal of the whole trip.
Veal stew !
It was JUST what I wanted at the time and I really liked the ratio of veal to vegetables – my kind of ratio. The meat was so tender I could’ve cut the chunks with a spoon.
Then it was on to the next hotel in Angouleme, about 75 miles north east of Bordeaux and 220 miles from the Spanish border. I arrived at 8:40pm so it had been a long day on the road. The mileage count was up to 1032 and I was ready for bed !
If this trip so far had taught me anything, it was that my days of driving 921 miles in one go were long over. Admittedly that was in America, in an automatic rental car with cruise control and a/c and mostly on interstate quality roads. Driving 391 miles today had worn me out but then I was in a little manual Renault Clio with no cruise control or a/c and driving on minor roads with numerous traffic light stops required when going through towns and villages.
I was also about 20 years younger !
But having said all that, I’d driven along miles of scenic French roads and through some classic French villages, seen the Bayeux Tapestry, visited the Cathedral and seen Mont Saint-Michel.
Oh and don’t forget that veal stew.
All in all, a good 3rd day.