Hard to believe as always that we arrived in Paris less than 24 hours ago and have already done and seen quite a bit. We took the train this morning to Bayeux in Normandy to begin a week’s adventure in this part of France. We departed from the St. Lazare train station, the same one made famous by Claude Monet who painted the steam engine trains arriving at this station because it was the station he used to come and go to Giverny, his home along the Seine in the direction of Normandy. He also painted on the coast here (more about that later in the week). Monet was particularly enamored with the steam engine because it fit in with his desire to paint en plein air (out in the air “on site”) and to capture a moment in time. As you can see the station has changed quite a bit since Monet’s time.
Staying in a converted chateau built at the end of the 18th century as an extension of a manor house from the 15th century. During WWII it served as a headquarters for British troops (more on this to come) and housed 100 soldiers. Earlier this week our Modern Art class learned about the Palace at Versailles, which started out as a chateau. This one is very much in the style of Giverny, Monet’s home.
Bayeux is a Medieval town near the coast of Normandy that is best known for the Bayeux Tapestry (more on that tomorrow). The town was established by the Romans in the 1st Century BCE, was destroyed by the Vikings in the 9th century, rebuilt, and pillaged continuously until the early 15th century. If you look at the map of France this region is an easy access point from Britain or further north which gives it such a rich and painful history. Amazingly it was not destroyed during either World War. In fact, it was the first city liberated but the Allies in World War II.