Tag Archives: Bayeux

Last day at Bayeux, December 30, 2015

It’s long past time to get back to my journal. My last day at Bayeux was an exciting morning of: laundry! And recharging my cell phone! Errands… Always with the errands. Doing laundry was actually fun, because it was an exercise in learning how to use a French self-serve laundromat. No attendant, just machines. And wow, this is a way better way to do laundry! There is only one place to put your money, and you need to have your clothes in the washer with the soap ready before putting your money in. Same goes for the dryer. So I started an empty washer and an empty dryer before I figured that out. They’re all numbered, so you put your stuff in, pay the money and choose your washer or dryer. Even the soap is paid for at the one “money spot”. Much better for the owner since all the money goes somewhere behind the wall-makes it really hard to jimmy the coin thing open!
Today’s photos: https://goo.gl/photos/553uXKgM4o2ELhhP7

Getting the cell phone charged wasn’t a big deal, except that it was just 12:00 noon and chances were the store wouldn’t be open during the lunch hour (& a half, or two hours). No big deal except we were leaving at 2:30 and I wouldn’t have time to charge the phone and get to the train station if they were closed til 1:30 or 2. But, I lucked out and got 117 minutes. Which later turned out to be a mistake. Oops. 

A short train ride to Rennes, and then a longer one to St. Malo. It was dark by the time we got to St. Malo, but I walked anyway, through the ‘burbs. I was not convinced I was going in the right direction til I got to the sea wall and saw the ocean. I walked down the street, past the hotel… Turned around and found it, and discovered that Mary had arrived only ten minutes before me. Dumped gear and ate, and had to run across the sand before heading upstairs to bed. 

Here’s a couple videos of the train ride:

http://youtu.be/6RqjbSiLCFw and http://youtu.be/duO1Hyhf-jo


December 29, 2015, walking in Bayeux  

This will be a short post… After a late start, I spent the day walking around Bayeux, literally. I started off at the center of town where our hotel is, and walked out to the Musee Memorial Bataille de Normandy. From the moment I stepped onto the museum grounds until a good 15 minutes after I left, I was enveloped in an overwhelming sadness. I know Hitler had to be stopped. I know there were some very good reasons to fight, but all I could think of was the incredible loss of life. The many lives destroyed, one way or another, by war. What a waste. 

Today’s photos: http://goo.gl/photos/9gYqFN6jobxnLwLU8


Musee Memorial Bataille de Normandy

This is a wonderful museum; it didn’t focus on death, but on the incredible job people did to survive and to win against Hitler.

I walked along part of the ring road, built in 3 weeks by the British Army, to speed troop movements through the area. Bayeux was the first city to have a ring road. The streets in Bayeux, like so many European towns, are very narrow and tanks couldn’t get through. I could read and absorb very little from the Battle of Normandy Museum, but one thing that I did enjoy was the caterpillar tractor; it looked like a beat up D-8. I imagine it was used to help build the ring road, also called the bypass. 

I probably walked about half of the ring road. This is a much newer part of town. Very modern buildings and much larger stores. I went into E.Leclerc, the French version of Fred Meyers, and it carries many of the same products that I saw in the small stores in the center of town-the pastries and breads, similar cuts of meat for example, as well as all the things you would find in a mega-grocery store at home in the U.S. 

The path and road were so nice. The bike path is marked with lanes for each direction and the walking path is separate from the bike lane. The trees and lawn along this particular road were well maintained; it looked like someone must rake and clean up daily. I don’t know if all the roads are so clean, but it was a nice change from the garbage strewn roads in the U.S. 


I stopped at a small sandwich shop for lunch. They also sold bread and pastries. The counter girl and I had fun communicating; she was a hoot. Very helpful and I had a tasty lunch for 6.5 euros. So, this wasn’t so exciting of a day. I saw ordinary France, a little bit of the way people live. I like Bayeux, but it’s very small, about 13,000 people. The Battle of Normandy museum and the Bayeux tapestry are the big draws. If you don’t have a car, you can take a tour bus to the beaches, and there’s lots of that kind of thing to do-not something that interested me though. I’m looking forward to going to St. Malo, and the beach, tomorrow!

December 27, to Bayeux!

I went on a search for breakfast while Mary woke up and got dressed, but apparently Paris belongs to the Crack O’Nooner club on Sunday. So I came back and we packed up in preparation to leave for Bayeux. I was madly searching for the train ticket that Mary left on the counter for me. And after I got all packed up, looked through my stuff two or three times, Mary found it on the shelf where she kept her stuff. Who knows how it got there, but apparently the travel angel is looking after me. And after all that, no one even checked our train tickets!

Oops, I think I published this post long before it was finished!

Here are today’s photos: https://goo.gl/photos/58fXdG7ezpTSoU1n9

We had oodles of time before we had to vacate our room, so I went off to the Jardin des Plantes, a huge botanical garden and zoo just a short walk from the hotel. It’s the wrong time of year to visit a garden, most everything is dormant and leafless. There were a few violas flowering-they’d obviously been planted maybe a couple of weeks ago, and there were poppies flowering too. A couple of gardens were closed due to the season, which was disappointing. I was particularly looking forward to the alpine garden and it seems odd to me that it was closed. Alpine means cold and snowy to me, but cie la vie! There were several plants sheltered with a transparent cover, so apparently not all alpine plants are cold hardy. The grape vine area and a small wild looking wooded area were also closed. That seemed obvious to me, since grapes are dormant and there’s nothing to see, beyond trellised sticks. 


French botanical garden

Jardin des Plantes map

Alpine garden at Jardin des Plantes

Alpine garden, perhaps high desert?

 I walked up to the small labyrinth, with a tiny pergola at the top, hoping to get a view of the gardens, but there were too many trees. This is one of the few hills I’ve seen in Paris, just a short little stroll up to the top. I’m not sure what the hedge was; it was an evergreen of some sort. It looked like spruce needles but the needles are very soft and pliable. The gardens are laid out very formally. One area had small water gardens surrounded by several loops of paths. The center area is a large lawn, with long rows of the poppies and violas down the center of the lawns and paths down each side and in between the lawns. Huge chestnut (I think that’s what they are) trees line the lawns on either side, trimmed so that when the leaves are out, they make a boxed roof. My photos turned out kind of dark; it is earlyish, but I need to change some settings so the photos come out better. 


Jardin des Plantes

The lawns with flower beds in the center of the garden

There is also a zoo, but I didn’t visit that. I would have loved to go through the buildings, but I knew I didn’t have time to do even one of them justice. There were two huge greenhouses too, but you needed a ticket to go through them. I really could have have spent all day there, and the hour and a half I did spend was just long enough to get a taste of the gardens. Each of the buildings-the Grand Gallery & Children’s Museum, the Gallery of Geology & Mineralogy , the Botanical Gallery and Gallery of Comparative Anatomy and Paleoentology are each easily a U.S. city block long. And the history of the place… I passed a commemorative stone on the way up to the labyrinth, for the premier director, Jean-Marie ne a Montbard, 1716-1799. I am guessing that’s the first director, so the botanical garden has possibly been in existence for something like 300 years. 

We had to check out of the room by noon (12:00 a.m., according to the brochure; we had a laugh over that), so I went back around 11:30 to do a last check and finish zipping up my suitcase. I felt a bit like a bag lady, since I had a camera and my purse strapped over my shoulders, my day pack under my jacket, and carrying a shopping bag with my suitcase. And I was the one that cautioned Mary not to bring too much stuff! She had just her purse and her one suitcase. I justified my bag lady-ness by claiming it was all my Christmas shopping. Which was mostly kinda true. 

We went down and checked out of the room, and I had the hotel call us a cab to take us to the train station. Mary & I got in a small snit because I did that, and she flagged down a cab just as the one the hotel had called pulled up. She was angry because for the hotel to call a cab costs an extra 4 euros (& she’d just spent almost 800 euros on the room, so why was 4 euros such a big deal?), so I said I’d pay for the cab ride. I just didn’t see that 4 euros was anything to quibble over; just to get in the cab is 3 euros (so we started off by owing the cabbie 7 euros). Anyway, we got to Gare St. Lazare in one piece. 

This is certainly a different experience than I had in ’78! Holeee cow! Clean, bright, well-lit, and none of that hole in the floor, garbage-encrusted-toilet business. The middle and bottom floors had upscale shops and nice restaurants of various types. The top floor, where we caught the train, had a Burger King and a Starbucks, as well as some small grab-and-go restaurants, plus an information office and the ticket office. I wish I could remember exactly what station I was at in ’78; I’d love to see what it looks like now. 

Mary was ready for some breakfast so she did that while I checked out the station. Turned out that we wouldn’t find out what track we were leaving from until 15-20 minutes before we leave. And this really showed up our different traveling styles. I was okay with that, mostly. It would have been nice to have a little bit more advance knowledge, but 15 minutes is plently of time to get from the message board to the train. Mary, on the other hand, wanted to wait and see what the board would look like after the track was announced; she is much more of a planner than I am.


Gare St. Lazare

What a beautiful train station!

So, I left her to watch the board, and went to look for some lunch. I spied an easy exit from the station, and on my way out saw a train store! I couldn’t believe my luck! Unfortunately it was closed on Sundays, so I hope I have time to come back on my way home. I found a nice quiet place across the street and had the most excellent salad. Thin, thin smoked salmon over lettuce with baby shrimp, a quartered tomato, and small slices of a proscuitto-like ham, with a light dressing. It was so delicious!

I still had about an hour before the train left, so wandered around the second level in search of dessert. I didn’t find that, but I did find Pylones, a gift shop with all this fun stuff. I bought a pair of glasses (12 euros, about $13.20 , much cheaper than the $20 I usually spend in the U.S.) and a hard eyeglass case that I can use for my embroidery scissors and needles. I have this really boring dark green one, that works great but it’s sooo boring.

I found Mary up by the train tracks, as I expected. People started surging towards a track, so I asked a group of three police officers for help and they kindly told me which track to go to. We found our car and piled on; not easy to do with the suitcases. I had hoped we would be able to leave them in a baggage area, but I misunderstood the ticket seller. We had to heave them over our heads on a rack above the seats. This was the same as in Poland, so I wasn’t surprised. Next time I am not going to be a bag lady!

It was about a two hour ride to Bayeux, and we got there after dark, about 6 p.m. A young Spanish woman we met on the train walked to the hotel with us; so nice of her to be our guide. It was about a half mile, so by the tiime we got there, Mary was just exhausted. She went straight to bed, and I went off to get her some onion soup. I found some right away, so brought it back and then went off to find my own dinner. I also hoped to stop at an internet cafe, but it was closed for the holidays. I’ll try the other one tomorrow and if that’s closed, then maybe there will be one in St. Malo. 

I walked past the Bayeux tapestry museum, so that will be easy to find tomorrow. I also walked by this small water mill; I couldn’t find any signage, so I am hoping that tomorrow will shed more light on that. And there are some cute giftshops to explore tomorrow too.

Off to France!

The girls-Becky and Babe, my Boston Terriers, will be in Roxanne’s safe hands while I’m gone. The suitcase is packed, there’s clean sheets on the bed, and the bathroom is spotless. All I have to do is sleep tonight and get on the plane tomorrow!

This trip is a total whim. This summer I managed to snag two free plane tickets by getting bumped (twice!) on a flight to Los Angeles, and I was casting around for a destination when my friend Mary said “Hey, you wanna go to France?”. And sure, why not? I criss-crossed France a couple times way back in ’78, and I’ve been through Paris, but haven’t stopped long enough to eat a croissant and walk to the top of the Eiffel Tower. So what the heck! Here I go!

I’ll stop overnight in Seattle and Staten Island, before hopping on a flight to London, switch planes and finally land in Paris on Monday. I’m anticipating cool, but not cold, weather. As of this writing, Paris is clear and 55 degrees. Much warmer than 10 degree Bethel, Alaska! There’ll be some museums, one or two embroidery/fabric stores, and a whole lotta walking going on in Paris, Bayeux, St. Malo, and Avignon.

I’ll be posting here and on my Flickr site (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cowgirl53/) hopefully daily, but at least 3 or so times a week. 

Joyeux Noel!!