Bayeux through the ages
Founded under the name “Augustodurum” in Gallo-Roman times, the city was surrounded by ramparts in the 3rd century to protect itself from invasions. Integrated in 924 into the domain of the Viking chieftain Rollon, the first duke of Normandy, it became the most important city in Normandy after Rouen. A castle was built in 960 by the 3rd Duke of Normandy, Richard I.
During the medieval period, five villages were created outside the enclosure, reflecting the development of the city at that time. Under the impetus of Bishop Hughes II, then his successor, Odon de Conteville, brother of William the Conqueror, the city was enriched with a new cathedral, dedicated in 1077.
The 17th century was marked by the development of religious institutions: construction of the seminary, the Hôtel-Dieu, etc. It was also the time when the first lace factories were set up. It was only at the beginning of the 18th century that the city underwent major changes, with the destruction of the ramparts and the castle, dismantled by order of Louis XVI from 1773, and the construction of private mansions reflecting the luxury of the time.
Today, the city preserves a medieval historical centre and architectural treasures linked to its history. In addition to its famous Romanesque and Gothic cathedral, Bayeux is characterised by half-timbered houses, mansions with towers, large residences and elegant private mansions.
Notre Dame de Bayeux Cathedral
Located in the heart of Old Bayeux, Notre-Dame Cathedral is a remarkably preserved Norman jewel of medieval architecture.
Bayeux Cathedral was consecrated in 1077 by Bishop Odon de Conteville in the presence of his brother, William the Conqueror. To decorate the nave of the cathedral, Odon had the famous Bayeux Tapestry embroidered, which tells the story of the conquest of England in 1066 by William, Duke of Normandy.
Begun in Romanesque times, Bayeux Cathedral is generally a Gothic church. As its construction extends from the 12th to the 15th century, we find the different styles of this art: early Gothic, radiant Gothic and flamboyant Gothic. It was during its construction redesigned and expanded. In reality, most of the construction was concentrated in the years 1230-1270. This is why it has a fairly large unity of style: a 13th century Gothic building enveloping the early Romanesque structure.
Bayeux Cathedral is open to the public every day for an open house visit, outside of religious services:
From January 1st to March 31st: from 9am to 5pm
From April 1st to June 30th: from 8:30 am to 6 pm
From July 1st to September 30th: from 9am to 7pm
From October 1st to December 31st: from 9am to 6pm
Guided tours of the cathedral are organized by the Bayeux Intercom Tourist Office, including privileged access to the treasure room and the chapter house.
Three museums, grouped under the brand “Bayeux Museum”, open their doors to you in Bayeux. Discover the famous Bayeux Tapestry, the Battle of Normandy or immerse yourself in the history of European art.
Bayeux Tapestry Museum
The Bayeux Tapestry, a unique document in the world, is a wool embroidery on a linen canvas made in the 11th century. Almost 70 metres long and 50 centimetres high, it relates the conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy. Remarkably preserved, the Bayeux Tapestry is registered in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in order to be protected and listed as a document of universal interest. Many times saved in the course of history, the “Telle du Conquest”, its other name, continues to reveal its secrets…
Centre Guillaume Le Conquérant
13 bis rue de Nesmond
Tel: +33 231 512 550
The Baron Gérard Museum of Art and History – MAHB
Travel through the history of European art with the MAHB! The museum’s collections, located in the heart of an episcopal palace, will take you on a journey of discovery from prehistoric to modern art.
37 rue du Bienvenu
Tel: +33 231 921 421
Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy
This museum traces, in a thematic way, the operations and battles that took place on Normandy territory during the Battle of Normandy from June 7 to August 29, 1944. The museum offers you an exhibition space of more than 2,000 m² in order to better understand the challenges and the development of the Battle of Normandy. A chronological and thematic tour, an archival film and many period objects (military vehicles, weapons, uniforms…) will allow you to dive into the heart of History.
Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy
2 boulevard Fabian Ware
Tel: +33 231 512 550
Places of memory
Throughout its history, Bayeux is a place of visit but also of memory. The city is home to the largest British cemetery of the Second World War in France and the Memorial of Reporters in honour of journalists who died in the line of duty.
Memorial of the reporters
Created by the city and Reporters Without Borders, this unique place in the world reflects Bayeux’s commitment to press freedom. The Memorial of Reporters offers a landscaped walk along white stelae on which are engraved more than 2,000 names of journalists killed around the world since 1944 in the exercise of their profession. An interactive terminal at the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy describes the journey of these journalists.
It is in this approach to press freedom that the Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Prize for war correspondents, organised every year in October since 1994, is part of this approach.
Liberty Alley, free admission
British Military Cemetery
Situé à proximité du Musée Mémorial de la Bataille de Normandie, le cimetière militaire britannique regroupe les sépultures de 4 648 soldats tombés lors des combats de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, dont près de 4 000 Britanniques. On y trouve également les tombes de soldats australiens, néo-zélandais, sud-africains, polonais, russes, français, tchèques, italiens et allemands. Il s’agit du plus grand cimetière britannique en France. Face à lui s’élève le Mémorial à la mémoire des 2 092 soldats du Commonwealth tombés au cours de la Bataille de Normandie dont les corps n’ont pas pu être identifiés.
Boulevard Fabian Ware, entrée libre
Parks, gardens and walks
The city of Bayeux is committed to the quality of life, developing many places for outdoor walks, in the old Bayeux, on the banks of the Aure, in the botanical garden, in the heart of the Sensitive Natural Space or in the Salomé garden.
Discovering Old Bayeux
A 2.5 km loop in the old Bayeux allows you to explore the medieval city and discover its history and secrets thanks to 23 explanatory terminals. A specific ground marking, made up of bronze nails, allows you to find your way along the route.
A break at the botanical garden
Listed as a historic monument, the Bayeux Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful landscape parks of the 19th century in Normandy. Created in 1859, this 2.6 hectare public garden is the work of the Bühler brothers, creators of the Parc de la Tête d’Or in Lyon and the Thabor in Rennes. The most spectacular element of this garden is a “weeping beech”, classified as a natural monument since 1932 and labelled “remarkable tree of France” since 2000. A discovery tour, consisting of 17 information terminals, invites you to discover at your own pace the botanical treasures of the garden as well as historical anecdotes about the city.
55 route de Port-en-Bessin
14400 Bayeux From April 1st to September 30th: from 9am to 8pm
From 1st to 31st October: from 9am to 7pm
From November 1st to February 28th: from 9am to 5pm
From March 1st to 31st: from 9am to 7pm
A walk on the banks of the Aure
Reserved for pedestrians and cyclists, this route invites you to walk, jog or simply relax by the river. From the Espace Naturel Sensible to Vaux-sur-Aure, this walk extends over 4 km, crossing Bayeux from south to north. Views of the cathedral and the city’s monuments, as well as the mills and washhouses, ensure an original discovery of the city and its heritage. This walk, marked by green spaces, also has rest and play areas for children. This project was awarded the National Urban Development Trophy in 2008.
A natural break in the garden of Salome
Inaugurated in May 2016, the Salomé garden offers many corners of greenery and calm, perfect for relaxing. Located in the heart of the historic city centre of Bayeux, along the banks of the Aure river, this wooded setting is a gentle and peaceful break from nature. The garden is named after Salomé Girard, a young Bayeusaine victim of the attack in Marrakech in 2011.
Garden of Salome
Allée des Tanneurs
From 9am to 8pm in season
From 9am to 7pm off season
A nature getaway to the Sensitive Natural Space
The site of the Aure Valley, located behind the station, has been classified as a departmental Sensitive Natural Area (ENS) for its wetlands and the diversity of its fauna and flora. Just a stone’s throw from the city centre, 13 hectares of ecological interest have been restored to be open to the public. The Calvados Department has set up footbridges and pontoons to allow you to loop on either side of the river. This nature trail allows you to get to know nearly 206 plant species and some very rare animals such as the Agrion de Mercure, a beautiful blue dragonfly.
Sensitive Natural Space
Sadi Carnot Boulevard