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Caen

Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Calvados

Caen - Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Calvados
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The prefecture of Calvados and capital of the former region of Basse-Normandie, the city of Caen suffered serious damage during the Battle of Normandy in 1944. This certified City of Art and History nonetheless has some first-rate architectural reminders of its splendid past.

It's worth taking the time to admire its built heritage. The Men's Abbey, or Abbey of St. Stephen of Caen, was founded by William the Conqueror to obtain the Vatican's pardon for his marriage to a distant cousin, the Princess of Flanders. The prestigious and imposing structure was begun in the 11th century in the Romanesque style, and was completed in the 13th century in the Gothic style. It combines both architectural styles with elegance and harmony, forming an aesthetically remarkable whole. The Ladies' Abbey, built between 1060 and 1080 at the request of Queen Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, was the female equivalent of the Men's Abbey. The Church of the Trinity, a beautiful example of the Romanesque style with a choir where Queen Matilda was laid to rest, is its highlight.

Caen Castle, residence of the Dukes of Normandy, is another of the city's main attractions. Built in the 11th century, also by the illustrious William the Conqueror, it was a real fortress during the Hundred Years War. It was restored after being seriously damaged during the Second World War, and now encompasses the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Normandy, the Exchequer Hall, the Church of St. George, and a garden of medicinal plants. Its wall walk offers a lovely view of the city and ramparts.

The Caen Memorial Museum, Centre for History and Peace, inaugurated in 1988 by President François Mitterrand, is an international educational and cultural centre built to commemorate the Battle of Normandy. With 5,600 m² of permanent exhibitions, its rooms boasting every modern technology evoke the period from 1918 to the present day, with a particular focus on the Second World War and the post-war era. In the city's must-see museum, you can watch D-Day unfold on a giant screen, as it was experienced by both sides, and admire the gallery of famous Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Within the castle and the sculpture park, a contemporary building houses the Museum of Fine Arts, containing one of France's biggest collections of European paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries. There you can admire works from France, Italy, Holland and Flanders.

Caen offers many other gems, such as the Escoville mansion, a superb Renaissance house built in the 16th century by a rich lord, and now housing the Tourist Office. You can also admire the Church of St. Peter and its many sculptures, the Botanical Garden (Jardin des Plantes), home to many rare specimens at the heart of the city, or the "Vaugueux" quarter where Edith Piaf's family lived. And be sure to take the time to stroll around the medieval streets or the lovely marina in the city centre.

Additional information
Caen

Downtown of a city of nearly 250,000 residents and historic city of William the Conqueror, Caen is a metropolis whose territory, open to the English Channel, is a promising destination discoveries and seductions. Its location between land and sea, less than 2 hours from Paris and facing the south of England, in fact conducive to a city facing many challenges. Both commercial port and marina, it is a port of call for all the adventures and all projects.

Things to see and do

The castle of William the Conqueror, the Abbaye aux Hommes and the Abbaye aux Dames, are among the jewels of Norman architecture. Collections and exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Normandy, as well as shows and concerts make up a more diverse range of cultural wealth. Without forgetting its museum Caen Memorial, City of History for Peace, a unique reflection on the conflicts and peacekeeping worldwide.

The Tourist Office offers throughout the year various visits to discover the rich heritage of the ducal city. For children, two routes are available for visitors wishing to visit the city differently, they may choose to make a journey full of puzzles that will allow them to discover different parts of the city.

Leisure activities

Last nameActivity typeRateCity
Climbing in a big block gym
Sports sensations12 € to 30 € Caen

Places of interest

Information points
Leisure centres
Monuments
Performance halls
Transport

Events and festivities

Caen Evenings Summer: July and August, Thursdays and Fridays at 18:30 and 21:30, shows and free concerts.

Marie-Claire Mitout | Ouf
Des Abris Pour nos Amis
L'Héritage Goldman - La Tournée Évènement
Des Abris Pour nos Amis
Forum Mondial Normandie Pour la Paix
Ouverture Publique : Nelisiwe Xaba
La Nuit du jeu
Conférence : "La Propagandiste", Rencontre Avec Cécile Desprairies
Samba De La Muerte - Release Party
Dernier Week-end de l'Exposition "Des Vikings et des Normands"

Photos

Downtown Caen (© Simon Davodet)
Downtown Caen (© Simon Davodet)
See photo
Downtown Caen (© Simon Davodet)
Downtown Caen (© Simon Davodet)
See photo

Visits, leisure and activities nearby

Restaurants

Bed & breakfasts

Vacation rentals

Campsites

Hotels

Your holidays
A hotel
A vacation rental
A bed & breakfast
A campsite
A leisure activity
A restaurant
A rental car
A plane ticket
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