28 August 2012

The great day out: Caen, Bayeux, Mont Saint-Michel

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There's a William the Conqueror theme to our great day out. Firstly, he built Château de Caen, the contemporary view of which can be seen above.

We had our French supermarket breakfast on its ramparts before strolling around the complex and checking out what the Museum of Normandy had to offer. The special exhibition on lace-making was fascinating, and the permanent exhibition—ranging from archaeological artefacts to folk dress and practices—was also interesting.

Next, we made our way to Bayeux to experience that telling of the Norman conquest of England and the Battle of Hastings. Spoiler alert: William conquers.

It's a good thing we had to wait in line quite a while. An animation made with the elements of the tapestry was playing on some TVs, and our friend could translate the information that appeared as French text. Much easier than fighting with the audio guide while you're sausaging through the tapestry passage with however many other people—also fruitlessly trying to beat the audio guides at their own game.

En route to Mont Saint-Michel (also depicted in the tapestry and thus completing our William trio), we stopped at a little middle-of-nowhere petrol station to fill up. We were also desperate to reattack our supermarket supplies, reinforced by some Bayeux bakery supplies. The most scenic place to do this was on a little patch of lawn, next to a middle-of-nowhere supermarket that flanks the middle-of-nowhere petrol station. At least our odd choice of picnic spot gave a French guy who walked by a good chuckle, so mission accomplished.

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Mont Saint-Michel is also fun to view from above, as you can see. It's a really interesting abbey to visit, if you can manage to ignore all the other tourists who are ignoring polite suggestions like "this is a quiet place".

A lot of complex engineering work is taking place and will be happening for the next few years. The road leading to the island will be reconstructed, along with other measures to rehabilitate the landscape and the water flow.

We had a long way home only interrupted by rest stops, including one for dinner when the by then very ripe camembert came out of the car for the last time.

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