Visit Caen (Normandy, France)
Caen is found on the coast in the Calvados department of Lower Normandy.
Caen was destroyed almost completely in 1944 during WWII. It is a remarkable feat that the town has kept so many of its historical monuments given the terrible battle that besieged the town following the Normandy beach landings.
After the war the town passed through 15 years of reconstruction, and continued to improve afterwards. In recent years the town have made further significant efforts, and the town has an attractive, historic centre.
Highlights of a visit to Caen
Start your visit at the Chateau Ducal. This castle was built by William the Conqueror to house and protect his residential palace.
The castle itself was destroyed in the war but the massive and impressive ramparts remain. These provide great views of the city and are a popular place to relax as well as to visit the Towers which remain and to visit the Musée des Beaux Arts and the Musée de Normandie which are situated within the ramparts.
You also have excellent views of the fourteenth century church of St Pierre, parts of which survived the war and some of which has been reconstructed.
The Musee des Beaux Arts has an excellent display of Italien, French, and Flemish paintings and the Musee de Normandie houses displays showing the history and development of Normandy.
Down below the ramparts the main town lies in between the superb Abbeye aux Hommes on one side and the impressive Abbaye aux Dames on the other. The Abbaye Aux Hommes is a really beautiful building and incorporates the Abbey of St Etienne where much of the town sought shelter during the 1944 bombings. Miraculously the church suffered little damage.
Between the Abbaye aux Hommes and the ramparts is the Rue St Pierre, a lively pedestrian street of attractive buildings and good shops. Rue Ecuyere and Rue St Saveur and other streets nearby are also worth a stroll.
Also not to be missed is the 'old' Vaugueux Quarter, affectionately known as little Monmartre.
Two other particular highlights are the Maison des Quatrans, a very decorative half-timbered manor house of the 14th century and the Musée de la Poste, another half-timbered building this time from the 15th century.
Market day is Friday and takes place along the ‘Fosses St Julien’ near the Ducal Castle and there is a Sunday market in the Place Courtonne.
In the summer Caen's pleasure port, which is close to the Abbaye aux Dames, is a lively place with lots of cafes and restaurants.
The Chateau de Bénouville (designed by renowned architect Claude Ledoux) is an important neo-classical style castle built close to Caen in the 18th century.
Among the other highlights in the countryside nearby is the picturesque village of Beuvron, about 20 kilometres to the east of Caen.
Photos of Caen
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Address: Caen, Calvados, Normandy, 14000 || GPS: latitude 49.183, longitude -0.369
Map of Caen & places nearby
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Caen, France
- Abbaye de Caen (Caen) - religious monument
- Prieuré de Saint Gabriel Brécy (Saint-Gabriel-Brecy) - religious monument (18km)
- Eglise de Saint Pierre (Rucqueville) - religious monument (18km)
- Prieuré (Saint-Gabriel-Brecy) - religious monument (18km)
- Jardins du château de Brécy - remarkable garden (18km)
- Cabourg - ville fleurie 4* (22km)
- Villers-Bocage - village d'etape (24km)
- Beuvron - most beautiful village (24km)
- Cathédrale Notre Dame (Bayeux) - religious monument (26km)
- Bayeux - secteur sauvegarde (27km)
Market days in Caen: Regular market(s) are held in Caen each Wednesday & Tuesday & Thursday & Sunday & Friday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Caen (Francais)