February 29, 2012

The Best Litttle Town in France


Through a bit of research, and with a bit of luck thrown in, we have found ourselves living just a few minutes down the road from what I think qualifies as the most perfect petite ville in all of France - Bayeux.



Its medieval centre ville is a little gem, complete with restored half-timbered houses, charming cobblestone streets and more than two dozen designated historical buildings and monuments.
And for a town with such a small population, around 14,000, it has everything we need - two weekly markets, a diverse range of shops, numerous cafés, museums, an annual Medieval Festival and even a decent Chinese restaurant.


les pommes

There's an added bonus as well...all of our French bureaucracy needs are now right on our doorstep. We no longer need to spend hours driving to and from town to speak to a fonctionnaire.

Which we still find ourselves having to do, more often than we like.

Boulangerie * Patisserie * Chocolaterie


You may have another candidate in mind when you think of the Best Little Town in France.
I've cast my vote, and if you ask me, Bayeux wins.


Bayeux Links:

The Bayeux Tapestry 
Bayeux, Bessin and D-Day Landing Beaches
Normandy Tourism

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French Girl in Seattle said...

If Bayeux is not the best little town, it must be close ;-) I agree with you, after visiting on a couple of occasions. Lovely place, with so much history, and D-Day landing beaches just a short drive away. Glad your "fonctionnaire" now works next door. You never know when you are going to need them ;-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Caroline said...

ooo. my mom has been bugging me to take her to Normandy when she comes in May... perhaps we'll make it Bayeux ! Anyway, glad you are liking Normandy so much-- I was afraid when you guys moved right before the coldest period in years !


Michel said...

Thanks for introducing me to Bayeux; sounds like a very nice town. I like the fact there are two markets a week as just one is not enough in my opinion.

Unknown said...

So so lovely, I'd love to visit!

samovar said...

my choice would be somewhere down south, not normandy or am i prejudiced? have to come down there.. have never seen the D-day beaches....

brassfrog said...

While I'm sure Bayeux is a wonderful town, you'll never convince me that it's better than Arles. :)

But I wonder how much of your joy is a result of your latest easy visit to your local fonctionnaire. :):):)

Madeline Morton said...

We were there in October and loved the fact you can easily walk all over town. Congratulations on writing a whole post about the town without mentioning its most famous asset, the tapestry!
Agree with chcmichel, 2 markets better than one and the one we visited was fab,such great fish!
Caroline, if you stay at the Campanile you can walk into town,

Diane said...

I have to say that Bayeux looks quite gorgeous. I have to admit that it looks prettier than out closest village! Never the less there is restoration going on there and it is improving all the time. We have though pretty much all we need, but no Chinese restaurant! We do though have two small markets a week and a large one that takes over the town monthly. Diane

Mlle Paradis said...

it does look lovely. i missed the bayeux tapestry when i was in the neighborhood saying...."have to have something to come back for" - now i know i really must!

Anonymous said...

the best little town is Saumur, tons of history,castle, Loire river, litterature, wines and the Ecole de Cavalery and of course I was born there!!!

Annie v.

Jennifer said...

I know that there are many who might disagree with my choice! :)
And it seems like we always need a fonctionnaire... *sigh*

Bayeux is a quick, 2 hour trip from Paris and would be a nice place to spend a couple of days. Let me know if you decide to come up, maybe we can meet for a coffee or something.
It was actually colder in the Languedoc than it was in Normandy, so we didn't suffer too much. We're very happy to be here!

Liza in Ann Arbor said...

Adorable! I've been to Normandy several times, but always seem to do the Giverny, Honfleur, Mont Saint Michel circuit. I'll be sure to include Bayeux next time! Fave small town? Hmmmm...I'm a big fan of Collioure, though that's quite touristy.

Jennifer said...

I absolutely agree, two is better.

I hope you have the chance to one day! :)

Jennifer said...

You are prejudiced!
Just kidding...

I agree, there are many, many lovely villages in the south too.

I love Arles! And Cassis. And Saumur, Nérac, Cognac, Pézenas...
But I love Bayeux more.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for your stopping by to comment and I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed your visit.
I decided not to mention the Tapestry, other than a link at the end, because I assume that everyone has already heard of it. The Tapestry is well worth the visit though!

We loved the local market in Olonzac, in the Languedoc, but I'm finding the Saturday market here in Bayeux much less geared toward tourists. It might change in the summer though.

Jennifer said...

Mlle Paradis
Yes, you must!
Let me know when...

We almost moved to Saumur. It is a gorgeous, charming little town and is right up there on my list of favorites.

Jennifer said...

I agree about Collioure and I've heard that Bayeux is quite touristy in the summer as well. I'll have to wait and see!
You should stop and see for yourself the next time you're in Normandy.

Mary said...

Oh! I am... jealous. I admit it! It does look like perfection. :) One of these days, i will get there in person.

Anonymous said...

LOVE Bayeux! Went there in 2004, been dying to go back. Best farmers market I've been to in any country! Great pictures!

Sara Louise said...

It seems pretty close to perfect! Hope you're happy there :)

Virginia said...

Charmant!!! Reminds me of so many little towns in the French countryside. Like living in a fairy tale n'est-ce pas?

Amy said...

Only spent the day in Bayeux (staying at a b&b 15 minutes away) but it was a lovely place! Had dinner at le pommier. Hope to spend more time next time. Your photos are beautiful!

Femme Francophile said...

I have visited Bayeux 3 times and each time been impressed by it's beauty and the warmth of the people. It seems to be the perfect size town. I hope to spend more time there in the future.

Murissa said...

Added to my list of small towns to visit in October!

The Wanderfull Traveler

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

So glad that you have landed in such a charming happy place, filled to the brim with history and new exploring places. I look forward to reading all about your adventures and hope that most of them do not involve the fonctionnaire!


Blu said...

Looks like a great town, best wishes from Bretagne!

Vær våken said...

How charming! Have a beautiful weekend!

Kristin x

Vær våken said...

How charming! Have a beautiful weekend!

Kristin x

Jennifer said...

You'll be happy that you did. I promise!

The Saturday morning market is pretty fantastic for such a small town.

Jennifer said...

Sara Louise
We're very happy, thanks!

Well...not exactly a fairy tale. I'm afraid it never is...
However, it is pretty wonderful! :)

Jennifer said...

I've heard many good things about le Pommier and can't wait to try it out.

Femme Francophile
I find the people very friendly, too. It's nice to hear from so many others who know and enjoy Bayeux!

Jennifer said...

That must be a long list! :)

The fewer stories that involve a fonctionnaire, the better!

Jennifer said...

Merci! There are several places in Brittany I plan on visiting. Do you have any favorites to recommend?

Thank you! Wishing you a lovely weekend as well.

Jessica said...

It does genuinely look perfect! Your pictures are beautiful too and so very very French! I hope you enjoyed your day exploring Bayeux!

Dean France said...

Yes, Bayeux is a beautiful French town. We visited in October of last year.
Here's a very well done, animated version of the Bayeux tapestry. The video really makes the tapestry come to life. (I was surprised to not see this video featured at the museum).



Carole said...

There are so many lovely places in France. Lovely post. I loved Honfleur despite all the tourists http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2012/01/honfleur.html

Maureen said...

I've visited France several times but never Bayeux. I'll never miss it again!

LaCanadienne said...

Yay, another person who loves Bayeaux. It has become our most-visited town since we sort of stumbled upon it while driving around the D-day beaches.

That being said, both times I've been in Saumur has been en route somewhere else, so it sounds like it merits another, longer, visit....

Lynn at Southern Fried French said...

I'm a collector of charming French villages and towns, and this one is now on my list to visit. Beautiful! My favorites: Brantome in the Dordogne, Semur-en-Auxois in northern Burgundy. In my 'coin', Buxy gets the prize. Well, the list is long!

Jennifer said...

Merci! I'm enjoying every chance I get to explore more of Bayeux.

Loved the video, thanks so much for sending it my way. :)

Jennifer said...

I agree, Honfleur is gorgeous! Despite all the crowds.

Hopefully you'll get the chance on your next visit. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Jennifer said...

You should definitely spend some more time in Saumur!

Thanks for sharing part of your list. I would like to see the rest! :)

Alisa said...

We've never been up to Normandy, but after seeing this post it's a must. Maybe after our summer sessions ends. This village looks beautiful!

Kasia Dietz said...

What an adorable and seemingly perfect new home you have! Enjoy the new life in Normandy!

Some days I dream to live in a little French village... though often Paris feels village enough!

Jennifer said...

It is a beautiful region to explore. I hope you two make it up here. Please let me know if you do!

Merci! I think we've found a wonderful spot. :)

Mary F. said...

Hello, We have been to Bayeux twice and loved it. Thank you for sharing these photos. I have a photo of that water wheel, with flowers around it, from 1999, when we first visited. It was taken in late August. We currently live in Denver,CO, but hope to retire in France in about 10 years or so. Bayeux is one of our possible choices. Thank you for your blog. It is very inspiring and helpful.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for your comment and I hope you end up in Bayeux if you move to France. It is a wonderful place to live!

Anonymous said...

Great comments everyone! We are looking to retire in a charming French village in about 10 years too. QUick question to those of you who are Americans and who live in France: what is needed, immigration-wise, to make such a permanent move?

Jennifer said...

Have a look at my Moving to France Tutorial: http://chezlouloufrance.blogspot.com/p/moving-to-france-tutorial.html?m=0