19 - 24 April – Bayeux – 5 nights

Train: Rennes - Bayeux – (3:02) no changes but limited departures

Hotel: Hotel Particulier de Sainte Croix

12 rue du Marché Place Saint Patrice Bayeux 14400 France

Day trips:

  • Rent car for 3 days for Normandy Beaches and Honfleur

  • Caen (0:22) or keep rental car.

24 – 29 April - Rouen – 5 nights


Hotel: Mercure Rouen Centre Cathédrale

Day trips:

  • Mont San Michel via Pontoson (0:49)

  • St Malo and ferry to Dinard (0:55)

  • Vitre (0:25)

Bayeux and Normandy

We cruise into a chilly Bayeux at sunset, mistaking one hotel and one parking lot for another. We park, knowing we would have to move the car the next day when the town woke up.

The Sainte Croix manager has left the light on, as the saying goes, It's a 17th century building, now a B&B. We enter a dark, antique-filled hallway, and meet Madame. She shows us where the giant, old-fashioned keys are: take one now for the room, which is on the third floor of a building with high ceilings, and no elevator. We have no breath after all three of us haul our suitcases up the polished stairs. There are lots of knickknacks, mostly feline. The rules are: enter and lock your room, keep your key; when you leave, lock your room and leave your key by the front door before going out for the day.

The room is enormous--bedroom and day room combined; the bathroom is large and old-fashioned, with another bed. All Victorian; cabbage rose wall paper. More vintage touches.

Next morning, we are alone in the breakfast room until Madame brings coffee, fruit, cheese, homemade pastries and cakes, eggs if we want them. Each day after offers the same table laden mostly with carbs, all delish, fortifying us for the treks to the Normandy beaches and museums, filled with poignant memorabilia and first-hand accounts, and to the town's own Bayeux Tapestry, a woven retelling of the Battle of Hastings from just a few years after it occurred.

Normandy is the closest to England across the Channel. Both in 1066 and on D-Day, 1945, if the battles had gone the other way, the language of Shakespeare and the fate of Europe would be vastly different.