Driving Around Normandy

Normandy is a fantastic place to drive around. Compare car hire online before you go there and you can have a car waiting for you to pick up when you arrive. There are plenty of hotels and B&B accommodation across the region and many quaint little towns where you can sample the French dream – eating cheese and drinking wine at lunchtime.

There are two historically fascinating sights here, Mont Saint-Michel and The Bayeux Tapestry. Both demonstrate the strong ties between English and French history.
Mont Saint-Michel has an English counter-part in Cornwall, St Michael’s Mount.
Mont Saint-Michel is a tidal island and commune. Its greatest feature is the monastery, which covers most of the island. The Island is accessible at low tide by a path that stretches out to it from Normandy. The island was initially connected to the rest of France but over time most of the land mass eroded away to leave only a thin natural causeway. In the late 1800s this natural land bridge was strengthened into a proper causeway. The walk itself is pleasant and the view spectacular as the monastery is exceedingly beautiful. The island has been used to hold the fort, as it were, since ancient times. According to the monastery, the Archangel Michael requested that Aubert, Bishop of Avranches in 709AD build the church. Interestingly, the abbey was turned into a prison during the French Revolution. The island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts some three million visitors every year.

The Bayeux Tapestry is a very, very long piece of embroidered cloth depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England including the invasion. It’s over 200ft long and over a foot wide. You can really only appreciate how long that is when you visit the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux where the cloth is on display. It is held in a glass case, which winds around the interior of the museum. It is so long that it isn’t such a shameful thing to get to the part where the hand of God intervenes to help the French, decide that’s as good as it’s going to get and sort of skim ‘read’ the rest. Be sure to spot the part where Halley’s Comet appears, a large shooting star in the sky and viewed as a bad omen at the time. A bit much to take in one sitting, you can always buy a book to consume at a slower pace. The tapestry tells the story of William the Conqueror leading the French in the invasion against King Harold of England.

Normandy is also the site of the Normandy Landings or D-Day 6th June 1944. The Normandy landings were the largest invasion in history. The Nazi’s had occupied almost all of Europe at the point of the landings. The English, Americans and Canadians broke through their defences in Normandy and from there worked their way toward Hitler’s bunker in Berlin in a mission that took eleven months. There are many tributes to the bravery of the troops dotted around.

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