Caen is the capital of Basse-Normandie region, located in the northern part of France. It’s situated above the English Channel, on the river Orne. In the past, it was the seat of William the Conqueror.
Caen was born on a limestone plateau, moreover, that limestone made the town famous because of its high quality. In the past, it was exported to the construction site of the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. The city owes its high development also to the Duke of Normans, William the Conqueror, who built here a castle in the eleventh century. Today the building is a landmark of Caen, standing out against the numerous temples. It stands in the center of town.
Today, you can visit two museums located here: Musee des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum) and the Musee de Normandie (Normandy Museum). Tourists can also take a stroll through the grounds of the castle, see the remains of the towers and walls, and besides, admire churches silhouetted in the distance. From this perspective, you can see them very well.
Port away from the sea
Despite the fact that the city is known mainly as a port, the sea is quite far. It’s also away from the beaches. In order to get to any of them, you have to go to smaller towns. Fortunately, it’s easy to get there by bus (from the city center it takes approx. 45 minutes). The first beach can be found in Lionville-sur-Mer, with rocky shore and small cliffs next to it. The sea can be admired only from shore – it’s forbidden to swim here due to algae.
The second beach extends at Hermanville-sur-Mer and doesn’t differ much from the nearest neighbors. Just the classic swimming area, sand and promenade.
The city of temples
As it was already mentioned before, Caen has a lot of churches. There’re also two big abbeys. Back in the days Wilhelm had placated Leon IX, who was opposed to his marriage with the daughter of the Count of Flanders, Matilda. To persuade the Pope, the Duke founded two religious houses in Caen: Saint Stephen (male) and Holy Trinity (female). First, the Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as the Abbaye aux Hommes, intimidates visitors with 80-meter towers and Gothic presbytery with a huge Romanesque nave. It makes an impression on tourists with its size, steeple construction and noble interiors.
Female monastery, Abbey of Sainte-Trinité (Abbaye aux Dames), is smaller and less delicious, but it’s impossible to call it modest. The façade, which is a part of the temple complex, is strengthened with two stocky towers (apses), while the interior astonishes with its enormity.
Caen isn’t only an old center with turbulent history. It’s also a city full of greenery – here you’ll find a lot of recreational areas, a beautiful botanical garden and even more beautiful park Colline des Oiseaux (Bird Hill). It’s called a "flower park" and fully deserves this term. In the summer you can enjoy the diversity of forms and colors of flora, relax in a truly paradisiacal surroundings or go for a romantic date.
In a close vicinity to the sea of flowers is a place that also makes a great impression on visitors, but for a completely different reason. It’s Memorial de Caen, which halls house exhibits dedicated to the victims of World War II. Besides, it projects movies about the current problems of the world. The idea of the museum is to promote peace.
At a distance of approx. 14 km north-east of the center of Caen there’s a year-round Camping des Capucines, where you can sleep in your own motorhome. For a parking space you’ll pay 2.2 euros and per night for an adult - 6 euros.
The campsite is located in Ranville, a small town in the heart of the department of Calvados. It’s located approx. 200 meters from the beach, it’s also a great starting point for further trips to other attractions of Normandy. There’s a lot to see in this part of France.