Bayeux Day (warning: rambling details)

I don’t know why I haven’t thought to be more inspired by the Bayeux tapestry. It is a combination of a few of my favourite things: storytelling; handicrafts; history. Also linen and wool. I knew I had to make it a part of my first trip to France, but I think this was out of memory of my art history courses: I knew it was a thing to see. But, looking at it in person and seeing the detail of the stitches and listening along to the story made me think about all the 2-D novel concepts (novel as literary device) I had in art school, and that this actually that, although more literal that what I came up with, or planned to do. I never thought to use the BT as a reference/inspiration. Anyway, I’m transcribing into words what should remain thoughts for now.

(My view as I write – which is la Cathédrale de Bayeux)

(A pause in writing as I find a less windy place to sit. I’m now on a bench and looking at the following tree:)

The Arbre de la Liberté

I didn’t take any photos of the tapestry, because it’s not allowed. I can tell you that it’s set up along a temperature and light-controlled hallway, and you wander along at the pace of the hand-held audio guide that comes with admission. I 100% always poo-pop audio guides due to me liking to make up my own interpretations of things in museums. However in this one case, it was a really good idea. It slowed me down, for one, and told me the whole story of the piece, section by section (it’s basically a graphic novel – and you can by a comic-book version in the gift shop). I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to study it as thoroughly as I wanted – to look at the stitches, but there was. I could have gone back for another go-through without the guide, but once was enough. (Was it though? I doubt myself now – but I don’t feel the need to go back.) It’s not like I’m allowed to touch it, and I purchased a fold-out reproduction of the whole thing. There were copies that weren’t fold-out, the sections on pages with a nice little description beneath, and these were defiantly less flimsy than what I have. But! I am interested in how the images-narrative flow into one another, so a connected version is imperative.

After the tapestry, I visited the Bayeux Museum of Art and History, which tells the story of Bayeux through art and artefacts going back into prehistory. My favourite part was an unexpected room full of the process and history of lace making in Bayeux. Room 11! There were drawers with samples and bits in progress, and shelves and shelves of old supplies – bobbins, working patterns, designs. I had to go back for a second look once the crowd cleared a little. So complicated and detailed! Not a handicraft I wish to pursue, but I love all the stuff.

Then was lunch and a quick downtime in my hotel room. The hotel is five minutes walk from all the places I’ve been today, even less in the case of the cathedral, a little more getting back from the museum because I got lost. But generally centrally located.

Lunches and dinners when not with the group have all been grocery store finds. This is because everything in Normandy contains dairy (not really, but mostly), but also because eating out gets expensive. I like that my tour group isn’t eating out all together every meal like it’s been on all my other tours. That way is fine, but it takes up a lot of time. Oh! That too: on some days we were given a certain amount of time to look around a place and get lunch, but I didn’t want to waste time sitting down for meal, so I got a snack instead and kept exploring. This worked well in… Honfleur? No the other seaside place on D-Day Day. I had time to walk the whole waterfront.

After lunch I took a wander around la Cathédrale de Bayeux. There’s a crypt there that’s one of the oldest parts of the structure, and we’re allowed down there, and I was scared. I was already spooked because there’s a few openings where you can see down from other parts of the building, and I was sure I could hear footsteps and suspected ghosts – before I found out that there were actually people allowed down there. It’s fine and safe and there’s no skeletons (showing) but it’s low and dark and smells like dirt. I checked out the paintings on the top of the supporting columns and got out of there. Hoo.

Now I’m writing because I have the rest of the day but my feet are sore and I don’t feel like looking at anything else. There’s a store with a dress in the window I liked when we passed by on the way to dinner the other night. Maybe I’ll try to find that.

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