Bayeux  is a small town (population 16,000) in northern France within the region of Lower Normandy. Bayeux is best known for the remarkable Bayeux Tapestry that chronicles in visual form the conquest of England by William the Conquerer, Duke of Normandy, in 1066.
Bayeux is known for two famous trans-Channel invasions. The conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066 started from Bayeux, while on June 6th, 1944 the Allied D-Day (French: Jour-J) invasion force struck the beaches just north of the town. Bayeux was the first French town to be liberated from Nazi occupation during the 1944 Battle of Normandy and survived almost completely unscathed. On 16 June 1944 General Charles de Gaulle made his first important speech on liberated French soil in Bayeux. The town hosts the largest British war cemetery in Normandy and is an excellent base for visiting the Normandy beaches.
Bayeux can be accessed by train through the SNCF rail system. If your trip originates at the central rail hub in Paris (at Gare Saint Lazare), look for trains that list Cherbourg as the final destination and Bayeux as an intermediate stop. You can also take a train to Caen and catch a connecting train to Bayeux.
Parking is available in Parc d'Omano close to the centre of town, however, it can be hard to find an empty spot.
Most of the town can be navigated by foot after arriving at the train station, even with a wheeled suitcase. The 'downtown', a ten minute walk from the train station, mostly lines the main street which seemed to change names a few times as it goes along.
Streets are narrow and uneven and often cobblestone or similar, so bring comfortable footwear (especially if going on local expedition tours -- see below for more information).
The Bayeux Tapestry (Tapisserie de Bayeux), Centre Guillaume le Conquérant, Rue de Nesmond, tel 02 31 51 25 50, fax 02 31 51 25 59, open daily all year, except for the 2nd week in January, 24-26 December, 31 Dec-2 Jan, hours: (mid-March-October) 9am-6.30pm (summer an extra half hour) (November-February) 9.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-6pm, admission: adults €7.50, students €3 - the historically unique Bayeux Tapestry is a 70 metre-long, 50 cm high embroidery made from wool on a linen canvas in the late 11th century to chronicle the conquest of England by William the Conquerer, Duke of Normandy, in 1066. Scenes include the Channel crossing, the Battle of Hastings (14 October 1066), the death of the Saxon English king Harold and the subsequent coronation of Duke William as King of England. Audioguides available. Allow 1-2 hours to visit.
The Bayeux Cathedral towers over the entire town, and is interesting to circle around outside and explore inside. The exterior is surrounded by the occasional helpful informational signage on stone or wood blocks, each explaining aspects of the church's construction or architectural features. The interior has some excellent views of the architecture, statues and murals, and there are several (empty) crypts you can visit beneath the church. Open for touring during the daytime hours (when no church services are in session), and definitely worth a visit.
The "D-Day Museum" is one of the best on the topic, with a good balance of explanations of the battle together with small and large artifacts. Movie in English and French. Dioramas, small arms, and photos. Outside are four armored vehicles (Sherman, Marder, Crocodile, and M-10 Hellcat). Inside are Self-propelled 105 mm howitzer, Quad-50 cal. anti-aircraft "meat chopper," radio truck, bulldozer, and several other large items.
Walking Tour of Bayeux- Discover Walks offers 2-hour, walking tours of Bayuex. The tours leave from right in front of the tourist information center on the main street. There is one tour in the morning and one in the afternoon. There is no need to sign up. All you need to do is show up at the scheduled time, pay the guide and begin your tour. A sign board in front of the office displays the tour times and prices.
Shopping in Bayeux is a sensible combination of French authenticity and touristic gaudiness--almost at a one-to-one ratio. Shops toward centreville (the downtown center) tend to be more overpriced than some of their counterparts about 3 km (1.8 mi) north.
Food can be procured for as little or as much as you wish: the main boulevard through town is lined with boulangeries and even a supermarket near the south end of town.
D-Day Landing Beaches. From Bayeux train station, you can catch a bus to some of the D-Day beaches. On the bus website  there is a map of the bus route to the D-Day beaches. Bus No. 70 takes you to Omaha beach, the American cemetery, and to Pointe Du Hoc. Bus No. 74 takes you to Arromanches beach - the location of the Mulberry harbors. According to Wikipedia: "Omaha beach is 5 miles (8 km) long, from east of Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to west of Vierville-sur-Mer" and these villages are accessible via the No. 70 bus. Note very carefully from the bus timetable that buses are few and far between, hence, you would schedule your bus trip to take into account the few buses. Also, buses do not run when there is heavy snow, so check the bus website beforehand during snow season.
World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, . (Take Highway N-13 west to Formigny, then follow D-517 to St. Laurent-sur-Mer and D-514 to Colleville-sur-Mer). Buses 70 and 75, operating infrequently. Consult schedules. Open daily, 9:00AM-5:00PM except for December 25 and January 1. The cemetery is the final resting place for 9,387 American military dead, most lost during the Normandy Invasion. A monument is inscribed with the names of 1,557 Americans whose remains were never found or identified. The memorial contains maps and narratives of the military operations in Normandy. Free.
Guided Tours of World War II Historic Sites (There are several guided tour companies in the area; Bayeux has a central designated meeting spot where all of the tours embark from in the morning and return to each afternoon). Battlebus provided excellent tours on our trip to Normandy. Having a guide was extremely helpful and efficient to zip us around to the various sights through the backroads of rural France. They offer tours of sights including the nearby Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Juno Beach, the Canadian Juno Beach Museum, the Canadian Cemetery, the American Cemetery (above) and countless other hard-to-find sites. Tours offered are divided into zones of coverage (American, British, Canadian, and others), as each zone is fairly large. A one-day American tour and a one-day Canadian tour give you a good overview of most of the highlights the region has to offer. Guides are experienced, interested, and respectful of the great history of the region. Stellar for history buffs and laypersons alike. Tour guides even kindly gave us a lift from our hotel to the train station at the end of a day of touring when we were leaving town! Tours should be booked in advance, as they tend to fill quickly, especially in the summer months. Other tour companies also service the region.
Chateau de Balleroy Not far from Bayeux, on the edge of the Cerisy Forest, is the small village of Balleroy with its 17th century chateau. The site offers the historic castle, built by a relative of Louis XIII, along with a good gift shop, an adequate tea room, extensive grounds, and a hot air balloon museum dedicated to the ballooning obsession of its latter day owner Malcolm Forbes (of Forbes Magazine)
Bayeux Shuttle,  offers day trips to the D-Day beaches (both full and half-day tours) and runs a daily shuttle to Mont St. Michel. The D-Day tours are guided, and on the full-day tour of the American beaches, lunch was included. The Mont St. Michel trip is a shuttle, and you are on your own to tour the site. The shuttle to Mont St. Michel does include a "fast pass" entry into the abbey which can be extremely helpful and time-saving on days when there are long lines into the abbey. In their vehicles, they have an audio-visual set up which allows you to watch brief clips on the area you are visiting.