Today we are docked at the harbor city of Honfleur. We took a walking tour around this beautiful village. It was created in 1668 by Duquesne under orders from Colbert as a defensive measure and was mostly involved in exports to England during the Hundred Years War. The French king had this strategic spot fortified. Through the Ancient Regime, Honfleur's ship owners made fortunes from trade, notably with North America. Samuel de Champlain, one of the most famous explorers associated with the port, headed off to found the Canadian city of Quebec. With their fortunes, wealthy Honfleur families built their high-rise homes, packed tight next to each other, especially around the Vieux Bassin, the heart of the port. This is where a front-row home overlooking the vessels was a distinct privilege. Now, instead of receiving commercial ships, or fishing boats, which are kept out of the center in larger docks, the Vieux Bassin attracts yachts. The river Seine has always inspired artists: painters, musicians, writers, poets. Attracted by the special quality of the light by the estuary, painters started coming to Honfleur in the 18th century. Despite its lively tourist trade, Honfleur remains a fishing and shrimping center.
In the afternoon, we traveled to Bayeux. Housed here is the renowned Tapestry Museum which showcases a remarkable piece of fabric. It is 230 feet in length; made of linen; wool embroidery thread was used to depict events of the 1066 Norman invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings.
According to Sayette Lemagnen, conservator of the tapestry:
The Bayeux tapestry is one of the supreme achievements of the Norman Romanesque .... Its survival almost intact over nine centuries is little short of miraculous ... Its exceptional length, the harmony and freshness of its colours, its exquisite workmanship, and the genius of its guiding spirit combine to make it endlessly fascinating.
The tapestry consists of some fifty scenes with Latin tituli, embroidered on linen with coloured woollen yarns. It is likely that it was commissioned by Bishop Odo, William's half-brother, and made in England—not Bayeux—in the 1070s. In 1729 the hanging was rediscovered by scholars at a time when it was being displayed annually in Bayeux Cathedral.
The designs on the Bayeux Tapestry are embroidered rather than woven, so that it is not technically a tapestry. Nevertheless, it has always been called a tapestry until recent years, when the more correct name "Bayeux Embroidery" has gained ground among art historians. The Bayeux Tapestry is exceptionally large. Only the figures and decoration are embroidered, on a background left plain, which shows the subject very clearly and was necessary to cover large areas.
We also visited the beautiful Cathedral, Notre Dame of Bayeux.
Our dinner was the Captain's Farewell Dinner for us - filet mignon, with baked alaska for dessert.
Tomorrow we check out and disembark from the boat. The last part of our trip is the post-extension trip to Brittany, which will be a bus tour.