Two Towns, Half a Day: Exploring Bayeux and Rouen in Northern France

Two Towns, Half a Day: Exploring Bayeux and Rouen in Northern France

So many places, so little time. That’s how I felt when it got to the point that I was visiting multiple towns in one day to stay on our France itinerary! I am slightly disappointed I didn’t have more time to wander the cobblestone streets of both of these beautiful towns. Bayeux is a quieter, scenic atmosphere with thin roads and one giant church, whereas Rouen, as the capital of Normandy, is bustling with people.

Both were also quintessentially French (obviously, because I was in France). Rouen is almost like something out of a dream that you would picture all of France to look like. I remember walking around and I believe if I am not mistaken, there were not many main streets in the area we were walking; just big boulevards lined with side-by-side house-looking buildings that housed some of the best shops on the bottom floor.

Bayeux was much quieter but had a wonderful serenity about it that you could do something as simple as read a book on a bench or stroll down the thin roads and be extremely calm and satisfied because of the atmosphere. What stole my heart and probably many others’ was the stunning, huge cathedral that towered over the town. It was my view as I ate a pre-lunch snack and I kept waiting for someone to pinch me.

One of the first beautiful views I saw in Bayeux, walking past a picturesque bed of water being funneled by a rustic mill.


I’m always on the hunt for unique things when traveling to new places… here in Bayeux, the bathrooms were this stretch of doors right on the outskirts of the town center.

My snack pick was a cheese quiche at what looked to be a little hole-in-the-wall place along the road, next to souvenir shops and other little stores. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know it was a quiche until I realized there was only cheese on it. (I thought I had ordered a cheese pizza!) I actually would have preferred to go to a restaurant I saw right upon entering the town that had a fairytale-like look – right on water, with a mill and surrounded by flowers (the same mill and area I have pictured above).

A cute side street in Bayeux… I love the creamy, vanilla colors of Bayeux in contrast to the brighter colors of Rouen. But even in Bayeux, there’s beautiful pops of color around the corner!

And of course, the church. I know now that basically every town in France has a magnificent church as their centerpiece, but the Bayeux Cathedral blew me away. What else blew me away – the fact that it is almost 1000 years old! Yes, you read that number right. This monument is again tied to William the Conqueror, like the fortified castle from Caen that I mentioned in my last post, which was amazing to find out since my trip was so history-driven.

The Bayeux Cathedral absolutely towers over the town! The picture gives no justice to the magnitude and impact this church has on the eye, but you can get a sense of the beautiful, antiquated and gothic structure.


A view of the inside of the Bayeux Cathedral, facing the altar.


Another inside look at the Bayeux Cathedral, except now looking toward the stunning organ!

My time in Bayeux was short – maybe a couple hours at most and that might even be a stretch. One thing I wish I could have done was seen the Bayeux Tapestry. It is so unique and I am not sure that I will ever get the opportunity to go back again, but I am hoping some day I will so I can lay eyes on it in person.

The thin and sparse streets of Bayeux make the town feel incredibly cozy.

We stopped at Rouen as we were making our way to Paris for the last half of the trip. I fell in love with the architecture and the ambiance – this is what I had pictured to represent a French town. Elements of modernity, but classic and historic touches literally in everything you could see. I did quite a bit of shopping in Rouen because the boulevards were lined with stores that I had never seen, but also others I was familiar with that I was surprised to see.

Rouen’s streets are lined with these amazing, authentically French houses and buildings. It was exactly how I pictured a bustling French boulevard. And the colors were amazing! You can get an indication of the large boulevards too from this snapshot of Rouen.

One of the things I was on the hunt for were makeup products that were only available in Europe and I found two I was dying to get in a drugstore in Rouen – Bioderma and the Bourgeois Chocolate Powder Bronzer! I also spent my money on a blush wallet and of course a few macaroons…

Like I said before, all French towns have an amazing church to show off and Rouen did not disappoint. The church was getting work done, so it was actually interesting to see the scaffolding and how buildings hundreds of years old get restored. This church is again tied to William the Conqueror, like basically everything in Normandy. Another place in Rouen that has historical meaning that I got to see – the Vieux-Marché – is where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.

The stunning Rouen Cathedral – don’t mind the scaffolding!

After strolling and shopping and before I had to head to Paris, I got to eat lunch at one of the million super cute cafes that are everywhere in France! This one was Le P’tit Paul (which I also noticed a lot of small restaurants have that same name) and I ordered the prettiest pasta dish! The atmosphere was so cute – modern, yet cozy. And I was of course obsessed with the adorable Coca Cola bottle!

How can you not be obsessed with the look of this dish!


You can sort of see the beauty and modern touches of this cute restaurant with the mirror behind me!

One last stop after lunch – Hermes! Okay, I didn’t actually go into the store, but I just needed a picture in front of it!

Hermes! A girl can dream…

These two towns were dreamy and I would recommend a visit to either of them any day! Have you visited Bayuex or Rouen? Or any other French hamlets? Let me know in the comments!

— M


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