10 largest cities in France




Bayeux is a town located in the Calvados department and in the Normandy region. Bayeux is an ancient medieval city with a heritage miraculously spared from the destruction of war. The city still conceals treasures of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Notre-Dame Cathedral, consecrated in 1077 in the presence of William the Conqueror, is one of the jewels of the historic heart of the city. At the bend of cobbled streets, elegant mansions testify to the prestige of Bayeux. Two dates sum up its history: 1066, the conquest of England by William the Conqueror, and 1944, the Allied Landing. Its worldwide fame, reinforced by the recent inclusion of its famous Tapestry in the UNESCO "Memory of the World" register, gives it a cosmopolitan atmosphere. A city of tradition, it has managed to preserve the know-how of the old porcelain factories, and its heritage linked to lace and embroidery is still very much alive.


The Bayeux Tapestry - The first vision of the Bayeux Tapestry gives the feeling of witnessing history. It is one of the few documents registered in the UNESCO "Memory of the World" register, which is exposed to the public eye. This authentic thousand-year-old embroidery is an invitation to travel back to the time of fortified castles. Considered the ancestor of comics, it tells the story of William the Conqueror, the famous Duke of Normandy, who left to fight in Hastings in 1066 to conquer the throne of England. Its unique historical value and aesthetic value still inspire artists and intrigue scientists around the world.
The protected area - In Calvados, only the towns of Honfleur and Bayeux have a protected area which protects and highlights their historical heritage of universal interest. Among the remarkable elements of the protected area of ​​Bayeux, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, consecrated in 1077 in the presence of William the Conqueror, testifies to the power of the bishopric of Bayeux from the 11th century. The discovery of the riches of Vieux Bayeux passes through the buildings of episcopal life, the half-timbered houses, the tower manors built after the Hundred Years War, and the elegant mansions of the 17th and 18th centuries.


Gallo-Roman period (-52 to 313)
Founded in the Gallo-Roman period, in the 1st century BC. J. - C. under the name of Augustodurum, Bayeux is the capital of Bessin formerly territory of Bajocasses, people of ancient Gaul whose name appears in Pliny the Elder. But the evidence of human occupation of the territory is earlier, as evidenced by the fortified camp of the Cavalier d'Escures in Commes with its fortifications overlooking the sea on one side and the Aure valley on the other. Another fortified camp existed at Castillon with an area of ​​thirty-five hectares. Historians have no evidence of the existence of a Celtic city prior to the integration of Bessin into the Roman Empire. Bayeux was undoubtedly limited to huts scattered on the banks of the Aure and Drôme at the site of Saint-Loup-Hors and to the dwellings of the Druids on Mount Phaunus where they celebrated their worship. Caesar invaded the Gauls and one of his lieutenants, Titus Sabinus, entered Bessin and submitted it to Roman domination.

The information we have on the ancient Bayeux remains succinct. The city is mentioned by Ptolemy, who lived under Antoninus Pius, under the name of Noemagus Biducassium (for * Noviomagos Badiocasso: the new market of Badiocassi) and kept this name until Roman domination. It was later referred to as Bajocassum. The current main street was already the main axis. Two thermal buildings, one under the current Saint-Laurent church, the other under the old post office, rue Laitière, are attested to testify to the adoption of Roman customs and beliefs because a sculpted head of Minerva was found there. , kept at the Baron-Gérard museum. The discovery in the nineteenth century of enormous carved blocks under the cathedral suggested the existence of an important Roman building, which an excavation campaign carried out in 1990 on the north aisle confirmed. The city was built at an important crossroads between Noviomagus Lexoviorum (Lisieux) and Alauna (Valognes), axis that follows the decumanus maximus, the current Main street. The city first developed on the west bank of the river, became an important commercial and craft center in Normandy. On Mount Phaunus, shared between Bayeux and Saint-Vigor-le-Grand, archaeological excavations have brought to light the remains of necropolises. Mount Phaunus, a former Druidic center, has greatly contributed to the construction of the religious identity of the city.

Late Antiquity (313 to 496)
The city surrounded itself at the end of the third century with an enclosure to protect itself from invasions which would be destroyed in the eighteenth century. Vast quadrangle of 400 meters side, one can still follow the approximate route. The cathedral occupied the south-eastern corner. The medieval castle, on the site of Place De Gaulle, was at the southwest corner. At the bottom of the gardens of Bourbesneur streets to the south and Saint-Malo to the north, some sections of the fortification remain. Bayeux was then one of the most important cities of the Seconde Lyonnaise which would become Normandy. It was one of the strong points of the litus saxonicum, the Roman Empire's coastal defense system against Saxon and Frisian pirates, and a Roman garrison of Batavian letes is attested there in the notitia dignitatum. Historians locate the martyrdom of Saint Floxel under Maximin the Thrace around 235-238 on Mount Phaunus. Saint Exupère would have given the first impetus to evangelization there. Saint Vigor, bishop of Bayeux slain a dragon there and created a monastery. In the 5th century, it is the installation of groups of Saxons from Lower Saxony and the region is called Otlinga saxonia. At the end of the sixth century, the population was Christianized and the city prospered and became a religious center, seat of an episcopate. In the 5th century, with the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Bayeux was attached to Neustria, the bishops increased their power and sometimes came from the royal family like Hugues, the nephew of Charles Martel.

Norman period
The Vikings destroyed the city in 890 but it was rebuilt during the reign of Bothon at the beginning of the tenth century. In the eleventh century five towns were created outside the enclosure, mainly to the north and east, reflecting the development of the city during the ducal period. Under the impetus of Bishop Hugues II and his successor, Odon de Conteville, half-brother of William the Conqueror, the city was enriched with a new cathedral, dedicated in 1077. Yet it was during this period that the city is losing influence. William the Conqueror deciding in 1050 to install the capital of his duchy in Caen.


In 1105, when the duchy of Robert Courteheuse was invaded by his brother the King of England Henri Beauclerc, the city was defended by Gounier d'Aunay but taken and burned to set an example for other towns in Normandy. The annexation of Normandy to the royal Capetian domain in 1204 reinforces the political and economic importance of the latter. Bayeux then had about twenty parish churches or chapels; she is rich enough to buy a municipal charter from Richard the Lionheart.

Hundred Years War
Between the beginning of the 12th century and the end of the Hundred Years' War, Bayeux suffered from looting on several occasions even if it remained intact until 1417, unlike Norman towns like Avranches or Caen. After the siege and the capture of Caen by the King of England Henry V, the city opened its doors to the English who seized it and sacked it for many years, forcing it to submit to "their" king. On April 14, 1450, the King of France Charles VII began the reconquest of Normandy with the battle of Formigny and the siege of Bayeux where the English took refuge from May 4 to 16. The count of Dunois takes over the city and Charles VII amnesties its inhabitants. The year 1450 marks the beginning of a period of prosperity, new families come to power, the old having been decimated by war and epidemics. We build houses and mansions with towers of which there are about sixty scattered throughout the city. From now on, stone gradually supplants wood.

The Renaissance left few traces. Among the most beautiful creations of the time, we find the Saint-Patrice church built between 1544 and 1548 and the interior architecture of the chapel of the former episcopal palace.