Aire/Stellplatz: BAYEUX Place Gauquelin-Despallières (Normandie)
GPS Decimal: 49.28025 N,-0.70674 W
Aire Location (static):
Aire Surroundings (interactive) NB - not compatible with all phone models:
(Best viewed with Google Maps App for mobiles - details here)
Per night: Free (2010) - maximum stay 12 hours (ie overnight)
Don't get too hung up about the 12 hours' limit, as there's no fee and no ticketing system here. It's all about providing a convenient overnight stop for visitors to Bayeux, and if you're organised it doesn't take long to work your way around the major points of interest in the town anyway. All I'd advise is don't be silly and try to stay for ages.
Bayeux's central streets are fairly narrow, with tall surrounding buildings and numerous one way restrictions, so I'd strongly advise approaching this Aire using a SatNav as it's surprisingly well-hidden. Even then, the buildings may restrict your SatNav signal and slow it down. Be aware of this and plan ahead. Without SatNav your best bet is probably to approach it from the D613 Boulevard d'Eindhoven just to the north, then at the lights turn down Rue Louviere, which leads into the Rue d'Aprigny. The square will then be on your right. I haven't tried this route by the way - it's just a suggestion. I'm lazy and use SatNav.
The Aire is situated in a quiet and well-lit square close to the town centre, with a bakery around the corner. It's within easy walking distance of the impressive Cathedrale Notre-Dame (you can see the spires in the photo above and the interior by clicking on the thumbnail photos below), the Bayeux Tapestry museum, and the main shopping centre. By the way, the Tapestry has a theme park style queueing system that winds around out of sight inside the building, so if the queue is already outside the building you've got at least an hour to wait. It's worth it though. The Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum is a bit further away, so you might want to drive there. They have a camper van parking area on the right as you drive into the entrance. The museum is well laid out and organised, but a bit dated and not especially interactive, so young active learners may get a bit twitchy. Adjoining the museum is the Bayeux military cemetery, where Commonwealth and German soldiers are buried. If you've never visited a war cemetery, you should go to this one - reviewing the silent parade of headstones is a very sobering experience indeed.
As the first substantial French town to be liberated in 1944, Bayeux is steeped in D-Day lore and history, as are the immediate surroundings. There is a huge variety of D-Day related sites to visit in Normandy, far too numerous to mention here. However, Bayeux is definitely a good central starting point for such a tour. By some coincidental quirk of history, Bayeux is central to another liberation event some 878 years earlier - the Norman liberation of England in 1066 from the rascally Saxons led by that treacherous King Harold Godwinson. Well at least that's how it's portrayed by pro-Norman propagandists on the Bayeux Tapestry anyway. Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, half-brother of William the Conqueror, and by all accounts a bit of a lad, can be seen hurtling around the Tapestry on horseback wielding a huge battle club and rallying the troops at a decisive moment in the battle. The phrase Muscular Christianity springs readily to mind there. The 11th Century Tapestry is packed with enthralling visual detail, plus one or two naughty bits that you never see in the schoolbooks, so be sure to pay it a visit, and take some time to study it closely.
But I digress. Returning to the Aire, there are no marked bays, so you have to use your common sense when parking here. The service point is free and there is a public toilet nearby. On our visit there appeared to be only one water tap on the service point, for both drinking water, and for flushing out toilet cassettes, so you might want to disinfect the tap first, or simply top up your drinking water elsewhere. There are no electric hookups here.
On the plus side: Quiet, free (with time limit), convenient for town centre and main visitor sites
But: Not easy to get to without SatNav, only one water tap for all purposes.
Alternative Aires: The nearest overnight alternatives, both nearer the coast, would appear to be Arromanches les Bains, which is quite small and by all accounts very busy in the high season, and Sainte Honorine des Pertes. We have not visited either of these Aires, but both are reviewed on the comprehensive French CCI website.
Around Bayeux: click thumbnail for bigger picture:
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