We recently returned from a 15 day trip to France, which began in Bayeux for 5 days and continued in Paris for the remaining 10 days. Our stay in Bayeux was excellent by almost any measure-great food, friendly and helpful locals, beautiful scenery and interesting historical and cultural sights. Our Normandy itinerary included a visit to the D-day beaches and the path of Easy Company (ie, Band of Brothers), a day in Honfleur, a day exploring Bayeux and a day visiting Mont-Saint Michel. The food was amazing-we had arguably the best dinner I've ever had anywhere (food, service and ambiance) at La Rapiere, and the other dining experiences were almost as good (and all were better and cheaper than any of the dinners in Paris the following week). Our day trips were made a bit more interesting by the fact that I was driving for the first time outside the US in 11 years, and it took me a while to adjust to the differences, but we managed to make it to and from our destinations without incident (although I did drive on the sidewalk at least once by mistake!). Some highlights of our stay:
- The food! I can't say enough good things about our experiences dining in Bayeux. We ate at 3 restaurants: Le P'tit Resto, La Rapiere and La Fringale. All were excellent, and P'tit Resto and La Rapiere were superb and served some of the best cuisine I've had at any restaurant anywhere (which includes most of the major US cities, Rome, Florence and London, all of which have world class dining). La Rapiere in particular was incredible-we got stuck in a massive traffic jam in Caen on our return trip from Honfleur and were almost an hour late, but they held our table for us (we had called to let them know of our predicament). The food and service were 5 star-we felt like we were regulars that had been coming there for many years, and everything we ordered was perfectly prepared. We canceled another reservation to make a second stop at Le P'tit Resto, also a superb dining experience, excellent service and prefectly prepared and presented dishes.
- We stayed at Le Relais de la Tour Louise chambre d'hotel, just south of the Bayeux cathedral. Our stay was delightful-Wil, the son of the couple that owns the B&B, was easily the most helpful lodging proprietor we've had-he picked us up at the rail station on our arrival, made all of our restaurant reservations in advance, accompanied me to the rental car office and acted as my personal interpreter for the entire rental process and gave us countless tips on Bayeux and the surrounding area. Wil went over and above the call of duty-having someone like that to assist you on your first visit to a new country is truly priceless.
- The Overlord tour was great-humorous tour guide, fantastic weather (the weather that day unfolded almost identical to that on June 6, 1944) and lots of interesting historical tidbits that one would never discover on a DIY tour (which I had seriously considered at the beginning). Highly recommended tour company.
- Our Honfleur day was completely different and began with a drive through the Pays d'Auge countryside, a delightful lunch at L'Ecailleur (a bit pricey for Mrs W, but I rediscovered the joys of fresh oysters), a very nice walk along the quay leading out to the Channel (I got some great photos of the Ponte Normandie) and a visit to the Musee Boudin (Eglise St Catherine was closed for a funeral, so we saw the outside only). The only downside to this day was a massive traffic jam in Caen, which resulted in me getting off the autoroute and immediately getting lost in Caen-we had the €2 tour of the University of Caen as a result. Fortunately, the day was capped with our incredible dinner at La Rapiere, which made all the traffic stress melt away.
Part 2 of the report will follow-stay tuned.