On the way from Paris to Mount Saint Michael, I made a stopover at Bayeux. It’s a small town in Calvados, just 10 kilometres from the Channel coast. As the witness of two cross-Channel invasions (the Norman Conquest of England and the Operation Overlord), almost 900 years apart, Bayeux certainly plays a decisive role in Western history. But the historical value was not the only reason that drew us to this town…
Bayeux boasts two miracles. Despite being very close to devastating war sites such as D-Day Beaches, the town miraculously remained unscratched. Its charming medieval centre with cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and café, as well as the unmistakable Norman Gothic cathedral emerged intact. During the course of World War II, Bayeux itself was never bombed by either side. Furthermore, it was the first town in French soil that the Allied liberated.
Another visible miracle was the Bayeux Tapestry – a UNESCO Registered Heritage and the world’s most celebrated piece of needlework. The embroidered tapestry was 70 metres long and 50 centimetres high. It vividly conjures up the life in the 11th century and depicts the events leading up to the first cross-Channel invasion.
In the Middle Age, the tapestry was kept safe in the cathedral. But now Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux is the guardian of this masterpiece. The mystery surrounding the tapestry is how it could survive after all these years, without getting lost, burnt or destroyed.
It could be a mere coincidence that Bayeux and its tapestry remained undamaged for several years. But staying intact for several centuries must be a miracle, don’t you think?