Arromanches-les-Bains to Bayeux

A day of few kilometres

We wandered back down to the harbour last night for an aperitif, and mulled over all the things we’d seen over the last few days here. The tide was still in, and when we transferred in the light rain which was now falling to the restaurant at the hotel La Marine we had a great view of the beach and the remains of the Mulberry Harbour. We had an excellent meal, marred only by the fact that the icecream shop had closed by the time we came out! No ice-cream for us last night.

We slept well, and awoke to the bells of the nearby church, and breakfast in the kitchen at Chez Mounie. The owner popped in to check everything was OK, which he did by asking us “Is life beautiful?”!

Only about 16km planned for today, and we got underway just before 10, up the hill out of Arromanches, heading for Longues-sur-Mer to see the German gun emplacements. They were incredible, four huge great concrete constructions each housing an enormous gun pointing out to sea. They were sort of brutally beautiful, concentric rings of concrete providing a “cupola” over the gun. We reckoned that they could cover around 120 degrees of the coastline, ranged as they were along the cliffs. Closer to the cliff edge were more bunkers, where it looked like German soldiers would have manned smaller guns to protect the battery. We went right inside, using the torch on a phone to light our way, not something which could have been conceived of in 1944!

After Longues it was just 8km into Bayeux, where we found our hotel, parked up the tandem, changed into civvies, and headed into town to see the cathedral. Smaller than Rouen, but a similar plain style. After lunch in a little bistro we moved on to the Bayeux Tapestry Museum – our main reason for including Bayeux on the trip. It was an amazing thing to see – faded now of course, fully seventy metres in length, and beautifully preserved and presented. It tells the story of William of Normandy’s accession to the English throne, and his battle with Harold who claimed it on the death of Edward I against his wishes that William should be king. We were given little headsets which described each numbered panel and explained how it told the story. It’s not actually a tapestry at all, but embroidery on linen, very fine work. It’s brilliant that it includes a sighting of what we now know to be Halley’s Comet, and the possibly apocryphal story of Harold being hit it the eye by an arrow. Well worth a visit.

And so we wandered back to our hotel, just as the rain started. Hope it gives out before dinner. We may or may not have booked at a very highly recommended local restaurant, depending on whether the owner understands the rather incompetent answerphone message we left, including rather a mental blank on how to do numbers in French!

Click here for today’s track.