Another sort of touristy thing we did while in France was check out the Bayeaux tapestry. Unlike the Eiffel Tower, we hadn’t planned this excursion before we even left the states, but it turned out to be an easy day trip from where we were staying after PBP.
My Art History – well and History History – were a little rusty, but it was neat to see in person something that I’d only seen before in text books. Of course the tapestry was behind glass, and I was in a conga line of other viewers, all of us with audioguides in our chosen language pressed to our ears, but there it was! Right there!!!
With the other people, the story on the audioguide didn’t always quite line up with the tapestry, so I did some repeat passes. And! the original viewing for most was probably amidst a crowd when the tapestry was displayed at the cathedral at feast days, so I tried to think of the peopley-ness as a bit of authentic experience. Minus the smells.
Even in our contemporary glut of media, it’s an amazing object. The story, the amount of work it too, the odd little characters in the margins here and there. In it’s time I can’t even imagine what a Big Deal it must have been. Of course the story is selective, told to make the victors look good – the more things change, the more they stay the same…
It’s been a while since I’d seen it in books, but I didn’t have a huge feeling that the colors were way different than I remember. What was really amazing to see in person was that, while I did see a few patches, there were no obvious vertical seams! Over about 230 feet!!!
In addition to the viewing of the actual tapestry, they had a what I’m pretty sure was full scale photo reproduction (that you COULD take pictures of), a well done museum that filled in more of the history, and the methods and materials for making the tapestry, and of course a gift shop. Definitely worth the visit!