Friday, March 29, 2013

Bayeux and Canadian Links

Wednesday, we took an early train from Gare St. Lazare to Bayeux in Normandy. My friend, who is visiting for one more week, has only seen Paris so I thought that a tour of the countryside was in order.
France is a beautiful country with 22 different départments. Normandy is green and rolling fields dotted with small villages.

Bayeux is a town of about 14,000 people. It is in the Calvados region, famous for a potent apple liqueur which I tasted in Paris. The cathedral, Notre-Dame de Bayeux, was built in the 11th century and once displayed the Bayeux tapestry. In the Second World War,  Bayeux was the first French city liberated after the Normandy Landings. Charles de Gaulle addressed the Free French from Bayeux in 1944.

Our hotel, The Churchill Hotel, has a wonderful location for visiting the town and operates its own shuttle to Mont-St-Michel. I noticed that it was located beside La Place de Quèbec and was curious to explore.  Many of the original settlers to New France ( one of the earliest settlements in Canada) were from Normandy. To my surprise, the statue in the Place de Québec, is of St. Catherine-de- Saint-Augustin who was born in Normandy and travelled to New France to nurse French and native peoples.
Although I had never heard of her, she is one of our Canadian saints.

St. Catherine-de St.-Augustin
Thursday, Janet and I boarded the Churchill Hotel shuttle for Mont-St-Michel. The rest of the travellers were family groups so we sat up front with the driver, Maurice. As I was the French-speaking member of the tour, Maurice and I chatted. Coincidentally, he was born in Montréal and had chosen to live in France. It turns out that he gives French classes via Skype to Americans and Germans. He knew so much about the area as he has lived there for 27 years. It makes the trip so much more interesting to have a knowledgeable guide.

A beautiful, chilly day at Mont-Saint-Michel.
I have visited Mont-St-Michel before but nevertheless found it beautiful.  The day was very cold and I imagined how damp and chilly it must have been to live there.  It would have been very difficult for an older monk to climb up the stairs. My knees were about to give out a few times. Neither travel nor old age are for sissies.

Imitation is the most sincere form of a flattery.  Earlier this week, The Hostess modelled her really cute Breton shirt. At Mont-St-Michel, they were selling them and I decided that I wanted one to wear with my orange jeans.  I didn't go for the pricey St. James version but a simple cotton mariner shirt.

We still had time to view the Bayeux tapestry which is almost a thousand years old and chronicles the conquest of Britain by the Normans in 1066.  It is amazing to behold the stitches and the colours and again to imagine. Our bodies ached so we watched the film in English and French.

We were too tired to wait for an elegant dinner but we found Le Drakkar restaurant where we had a Planche de Mer of grilled prawns, hake, scallops and salmon. After our pichet of wine, we fell asleep immediately.




1 comment:

  1. Oh Thank you or the mention!
    I am following you on this grand journey and you are making the most of every moment. Lots of sights to see and so wonderful that you are sharing them with us.

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