In the pigeon house

We were up soon after 6:00 am, had breakfast, tidied, packed the car, and were ready to leave before 8:00 am. Debbie was out and about by that time so we bade farewell and were off with me at the wheel. Our stay at Trébry had been most enjoyable indeed.

The first part of the trip was over familiar ground, out to the main road toward the north east and along the same roads we had followed to destinations like Dinan, Mont Saint Michel, and Saint Malo. Beyond that we drove on toward Normandy and our first stop at Bayeux. The weather was a mix of blue sky with sunshine and intermittent showers but they did not slow us appreciably. Somewhere beyond Mont Saint Michel we came to long stretches of very good road with a 130 kph speed limit. Traffic in our direction was lighter than that going south but we did note the large number of cars with bicycles on rear carriers. Cycling seems to be a major feature of life here.

We reached Bayeux just after 10:00 am and were lucky to find a parking space near the centre and just a couple of blocks from the museum with the tapestry. Majella’s research had found that the crowds built up early and caused delays so we went direct to see the tapestry without pausing for the coffee we would have liked by then.

The tapestry is really an embroidery in wool thread on linen cloth. It is almost 70 metres long and about 50 cm high with about 50 numbered scenes. The museum has it displayed in a glass enclosure with controlled light, tempreature and humidity to minimise deterioration. Photography is forbidden to avoid deterioration caused by flash and visitors are admitted in groups of about 20 with audio descriptions of each scene. We moved through in a bit more than 30 minutes, listening to the explanations of each of the scenes. It was created for Bishop Odo of Bayeux, brother of William the Conqueror, and tells the story from the Norman perspective. It is an amazing piece of work though less impressive than the less well known apocalypse tapestry we saw in Angers. Once we had seen the tapestry and the associated exhibition in the museum we walked back up the street and found a café where we had coffee and quiche or pizza for lunch.

Notre Dame Cathedral, BayeuxThat was across the street from the cathedral of Notre Dame which we visited after lunch. It is another amazing church building dating from the 11th century when construction was initiated by Bishop Odo. It suffered damage at various times and was not completed until the 19th century. There is still work being carried out on stained glass and other features.

We left Bayeux by 1:00 pm, headed for Croisy sur Andelle. Not far along the road I recalled that John had suggested visiting Lisieux on the way. That deviation would need no more than an hour so I reset the GPS destination for Lisieux.

Basilica of Saint Thérèse, LisieuxThe attraction for us in Lisieux was the basilica built in honour of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower. She was a Carmelite nun in the 19th century who died young but became known for her spiritual writing and was canonised early in the 20th century. The basilica was built soon after. It is an enormous building lavishly decorated in bright mosaics. We spent time admiring the building and its decoration before driving on toward our destination for the night.

An hour or so further on we arrived at La Ferme du Manoir in Croisy sur Andelle. I had found it early in my search for accommodation in France and, seeing that it was a converted pigeonnier (house for pigeons), had half jokingly suggested it to Majella. She was entranced and insisted we stay here.

La Ferme du ManoirThe building is a circular brick tower which has been converted for human habitation by its present owners. Jean greeted us at the gate and gave us a quick tour around the living space that fills the entire bottom level and the two ensuite bedrooms on the second level that has been added. The bedrooms are lit by skylights and look onto a central space that opens down to the living area so that we can see all the way up to the inside of the roof. The ceiling height in the living room must be about 5 or 6 metres. There is a small kitchen, lounge furniture, dining setting, and a grand piano. Pauline was more than delighted to have the opportunity to play the piano. Majella is threatening never to leave.

We drove to the nearby village of Perriers to buy some food for dinner at the supermarket. Dinner was another simple meal of sausage, cheese, bread, and wine. We ate this outdoors in the beautifully manicured garden that surrounds the gîte, and leads up to the larger manor house. The gardens are themed in green and white, featuring topiary pines and white hydrangeas. Our hosts had provided a very nice bottle of Bordeaux red that we enjoyed. They have also provided a bowl of fresh fruit, a home made cake, and a basket of eggs from their farm. Our last evening with Pauline and John was one to remember.