=Sep. 2013=

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

We crossed the Channel with Brittany Ferries, sailing from Poole (Bournemouth) to Cherbourg. The weather had changed dramatically, from typically autumn upon our landing in Newcastle, to 'Indian Summer' in Cornwall; but summer seemed to have continued in Normandy with a blazing sun and temperatures well over 20 C degrees.
Also I seemed to have erased the UK maps on my TomTom (Gps) device when I performed the latest update and so had to resort again to roadmaps whilst driving in the UK; now in Normandy we could sit back and rely again our electronic navigation devise - it made driving a lot easier.


Caen, France 2013
Caen; almost blinded by the low position of the dazzling sun, we strolled through the city center.

Caen, France 2013

Caen, France 2013
First a quick look in the Abbaye aux Dames. Also known as Abbey of Sainte-Trinité (the Holy Trinity).

Caen, France 2013

The abbey was founded as a Benedictine monastery of nuns in the late 11th century by William the Conqueror and his wife Matilda of Flanders.
Matilda is entombed here at l'Abbaye aux Dames (the Sainte-Trinité church). Of particular interest is that 11th century slab, a sleek black stone decorated with her epitaph, marking her grave at the rear of the church.

There were rumors that Matilda had been in love with the English ambassador to Flanders, a Saxon named Brihtric, who declined her advances.
Whatever the truth of the matter, years later when she was acting as Regent for William in England, she used her authority to confiscate Brihtric's lands and throw him into prison, where he died.

Caen, France
Our hotel was outside the immediate city center, near the Abbaye aux Dames seen on the right on this map.
We walked through the town center to Abbaye aux Hommes, seen here on the far left, for the grave of William the Conqueror.

It was of great irritation that we found restaurants opening only on limited hours; it was very difficult to find a place open
before 19:00 - you couldn't even sit down in the restaurant at 18:40 with a glass of wine and await their start of service.
The French: they take unfriendliness to a whole new level !


Caen, France
The Abbaye aux Hommes.

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men's Abbey'), is a former monastery in the French city of Caen, Normandy.
Dedicated to Saint Stephen ('Saint Étienne'), it is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies' Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition.
An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France.
The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic.
The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses.
Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century.

Caen, France 2013
So much history we've read starts or includes the person of William the Conqueror.
It was time to pay tribute to this location.

Caen, France 2013
Unfortunately William's original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda's in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

William I (Old Norman: Williame I; b.(ca.)1028 – d.09Sep1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087.

The descendant of Viking raiders, he had been Duke of Normandy since 1035 under the style William II.
After a long struggle to establish his power, by 1060 his hold on Normandy was secure, and he launched the Norman conquest of England in 1066.
The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands and by difficulties with his eldest son.

In 1086 William ordered the compilation of the Domesday Book, a survey listing all the landholders in England along with their holdings.
William died in September 1087 while leading a campaign in northern France, and was buried in Caen.

His reign in England was marked by the construction of castles, the settling of a new Norman nobility on the land, and change in the composition of the English clergy. He did not try to integrate his various domains into one empire, but instead continued to administer each part separately.
William's lands were divided after his death: Normandy went to his eldest son, Robert, and his second surviving son, William, received England.




Bayeux Tapestry
Bayeux. Again, for having so much read about the Bayeux Tapestry it was high time we went to see it with our own eyes.
Besides the sequence of events, historians have learned a lot from the illustrations in terms of clothing, arms, etc.

The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth—not an actual tapestry—nearly 70 metres (230 ft) long, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings upon William's invasion of England. [Wikipedia]


Bayeux Tapestry
William had this made as an illustrated tale to inform the (illiterate) people at home of the historic event.
The tapestry consists of some 50 scenes with Latin tituli (captions), embroidered on linen with coloured woollen yarns.
It is likely that it was commissioned by Bishop Odo, William's half-brother, and made in England—not Bayeux—in the 1070s.

Bayeux Tapestry
The museum also had details of the fate of this embroidery and it is a miracle it survived the many centuries to this day.

Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux


We found Bayeux a much nicer place than Caen; next time we will seek accommodation here, I think.



Bayeux Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux) is a Norman-Romanesque cathedral.

The site is an ancient one and was once occupied by Roman sanctuaries. The present cathedral was consecrated
on 14 July 1077 in the presence of William, Duke of Normandy and King of England. It was here that William
forced Harold Godwinson to take the oath, the breaking of which led to the Norman conquest of England.


Following serious damage to the Cathedral in the 12th Century, the Cathedral was rebuilt in the Gothic style
which is most notable in the crossing tower, transepts and east end.

Very rich in detail and decorations.



Normany, Utah Beach
Utah Beach; we couldn't ignore WW2 history and particulalry D-Day on 6-6-1944.

Normandy, Utah Beach
I wasn't allowed to take a picture in this souvenir shop, which I thought ridiculous. So I did it anyway.


 Normandy, Arromanches
Arromanches-les-Bains (or simply 'Arromanches') is located on the coast in the heart of the area where the
Normandy landings took place on D-Day, on 6 June 1944. It is situated approximately 25 km (16 mi) northwest of Caen.

 Normandy, Arromanches
It is indeed an area of contemplation.

 Normandy, Arromanches
The town lies along the stretch of coastline designated as Gold Beach during the D-Day landings, one of the beaches used
by British troops in the Allied invasion. Arromanches was selected as one of the sites for two Mulberry Harbours built
on the Normandy coast, the other one built further West at Omaha Beach. Sections of the Mulberry Harbour at
Arromanches still remain today with huge concrete blocks sitting on the sand, and more can be seen further out at sea.

 Normandy, Arromanches


 Normandy, Arromanches
Advise had been given to me to visit the Arromaches360 cinema for an impressive film presentation of the invasion.
It proofed to be very good advise.

 Normandy, Arromanches
On nine cinema screens in a circle around us, with screens showing single presentations but also sharing on 2 or 3 screens
one image, or fading from one to the other and accompanied by a thunderous sound effect: it was indeed awe-inspiring.

 Normandy, Arromanches

 Normandy, Arromanches
This presentation tells the story of the horrific Battle of Normandy, thanks to archive images gathered from
around the world. This film is a worthy tribute to soldiers from all countries and to the 20.000 civilians
who were killed during this battle for the liberation of Europe.








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