Situated 15 kmfrom the English Channel, along the northwestern edge of the French hexagon, Caen is the capital of the Lower Normandy region. With a population of about 117,000, it is the third largest city in Normandy, after Rouen and Le Havre. Caen has a long and dramatic history, punctuated by war, violence and destruction. William the Conqueror founded the city in the 10th century, and was buried there after his death.
The city was first devastated in 1346, during a military campaign led by King Edward III of England. Thousands of citizens were killed during the English invasion. Caen was again badly damaged in WWII, during an air assault by the Allied Forces, which destroyed 80% of the city. Only a few historical buildings were left standing, including the famous Abbaye aux Dames, located just a few minutes from the Kyriad Caen Centre Hotel.
A two-day break
Two days gives you the chance to explore Caen’s unique cityscape. The Trinity Church and Women’s Abbey is a good place to start, and the Saint Etienne Church and Men’s Abbey is a logical next visit. The two churches, commissioned jointly by William the Conqueror and his wife, beautifully embody Romanesque architecture. Other noteworthy sites in close proximity to the Kyriad Caen Centre Hotel include the Castle of Caen and the Castle of William the Conqueror.
A week-long stay
With a week-long break, you can explore other aspects of Caen’s history and heritage. The Caen Memorial, within walking distance of the Kyriad North Caen Hotel, is dedicated to peace and commemorates Caen’s involvement in WWII. It features exhibits on events leading up to war, occupation and liberation, as well as special sections dedicated to other global events. The memorial is surrounded by gardens and visits also include trips to the D-Day beaches.
A family break
Caen is well-suited for family vacations. It has great outdoor spaces, such as the Floral Park of Bird Hill, the Centre City Plant Garden and the Caen Botanical Gardens. The Festyland amusement park to the west of the city has enough activities for a whole day of fun. The Museum of Fine Arts presents a great cultural enrichment opportunity, with works from the 15th to 21st centuries, while the Museum of Post and Telecommunications covers the history of communication in the region.
The city is easily accessible by car, from Paris (A13), Brittany and Rennes (A84). Caen is also accessible by air, with flights operated out of Carpiquet Airport by Brit Air, Chalair Aviation and Air France. A Paris-Caen train is also in operation (2 hours), as is a ferry from Portsmouth.
Caen has a number of great restaurants serving local specialities. The Maitre Corbeau serves up cheese dishes like tartiflette (potatoes, reblochon cheese, lardons and onions) and fondue. Le Bouchon is one of the city’s well-known establishments and serves dishes blending local and distant flavors, such as lamb with herb salad. It is also known for its great selection of wines.
Caen hosts a number of events throughout the year. The Tour of Normandy is a major annual cycling race which ends in Caen every March. The Dukes of Normandy Grand Prix takes place in May at the Caen hippodrome and offers a grand prize of €150,000. The Festival Beauregard draws big-name musicans every July and takes place in Herouville-Saint-Clair, easily accesible from the Kyriad Caen South Hotel.
The Saint Etienne Church, adjacent to the Men’s Abbey, is built with Caen stone, a type of limestone quarried near the city. Caen stone was also used for the construction of Westminster Abbey in London. The stone homogeneity makes its especially suitable for carving. It was used to build the Caen Memorial.
Caen tourism office
Caen official website
Caen Memorial Website