Le Havre and Bayeux

Saturday, 26th July 2014

Saturday was not a travelling day so I had the whole day to explore. First was a trip from the hotel in Harfleur to the centre of Le Havre to have a look at the famous port. I consulted the map, picked a spot to start from then instructed Lori the SatNav Lady to get me there. She tried her best, but we were defeated when confronted by this:

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There’s the Car With No Name on the right of the road brought to a halt by the red traffic light and the barriers across the road. The large structure on the left is the underside of the road. Pointing straight up in the air. Yes, it’s a bridge and it was most definitely open. So I got out and took a few piccies and waited … and waited … and waited … and when it was apparent nothing was going to change in a hurry I moved on. Poor Lori was desperately trying to get me back there and give it one more go but, once far enough away, finally relented and found another route.

The port proved to be surprisingly quiet, and I only found this one ship in a berth:

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So I moved on to the more residential part of the town, and found the Harbourmaster’s look-out post …

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… and the stuff of dreams:

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The view towards the harbour entrance shows just how quiet the port was:

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Then it was a trip over the Normandy Bridge (“Le Pont de Normandie”) to Bayeux to view the famous embroidery. Here’s a still from the car’s videocamera at the mid-point of the crossing:

Normandy Bridge

Those of you who thought it was a tapestry have been misled, probably by people who themselves have been misled.

Bayeux oozes history, and the Cathedral of Notre-Dame was breathtaking. The picture just doesn’t do it justice.

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The embroidery itself is housed in a dedicated museum, as you’d expect, and after paying the entrance fee you pick up a player which you hold to your ear to hear the commentary. This starts automatically when you enter the exhibition hall, which is dimly lit and a comfortable temperature. Light levels, humidity and temperature control are vital to the preservation of this priceless work of art. You then walk the length of the display case as the commentary describes the scenes, and this proved to be somewhat of a disappointment as the commentary goes quite fast and there is no facility to pause it (you’re warned of this at the beginning). There’s little opportunity, then, to examine the finer details. I suppose it’s all about getting as many fee-paying customers through as decently possible. Photography is strictly forbidden, again to minimise fading of the dyes used, so no pictures I’m afraid. Instead, you can go to the official Website. Please hover over the “THE BAYEUX TAPESTRY” button on the menu bar to access the other pages.

Once outside again I was able to meander around the town centre and came across this working undershot waterwheel not far away:

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Someone has kindly uploaded a video to YouTube showing the wheel actually turning:

The time now being about 17:30 I set a course for the next stop on the expedition, Caen and its hotel, before going on to the local Flunch for dinner.

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