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What to do in Caen, France? Sights of Caen

Caen is the most important city in Normandy, making it an excellent base for visiting the D-Day beaches and there is also plenty of things to do in Caen.

William the Conqueror, who became King of England in the 11th century, was a native of this region, having built the grandiose Castle of Caen.

Guilherme’s story can be seen in the historic sites that survived the Second World War, and unfortunately there weren’t many.

Caen was the scene of an intense battle between German and Allied troops, due to its strategic position. This battle took place as a result of the D-Day operation in Normandy, a bloody but liberating event, and one of the region’s attractions.

Coincidentally, we went to visit Caen during the liberation commemoration period, so we could feel the atmosphere that Normandy experiences every year on the 6th of June.

However, Caen is much more than the scars left by the war, as we will show in this post. things to do in Caen. Check out!

Also check out tips on where to stay in Caen in our special article!

What to do in Caen, France? Main tourist attractions in Caen

Castle of Caen

The great fortress of Castle Caen

The Castle of William the Conqueror, also known as Château de Caen, is one of the Europe’s biggest fortifications.

In 1060, the then Duke of Normandy had the Castle built, which became one of the symbols of Caen.

The fortification has remained largely intact for a thousand years, but the Castle itself is in ruins.

Inside the fort, there are areas for rest and the Museums of Fine Arts and Normandy. However, it is the fortification itself, its accesses and its view of the city that are the positive points of the Castle of William the Conqueror.

Check out more details about Caen Castle in our special post!

Practical information – Open every day. Free entrance. For more information, visit the city’s tourism website.

Quartier du Vaugueux

After visiting the Castle, take the opportunity to visit the Quartier du Vaugueuxwhich has one of the most photogenic places in the city on the street of the same name.

Vaugueux is the old medieval quarter of Caen, of which few old houses remain, but which still retain a lot of charm.

Currently, in Vaugueux you will find cafes and restaurants.

Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts)

Things to do in Caen
The modern building of the Museum of Fine Arts

Located in Caen Castle, the Museum of Fine Arts in Caen is an option to visit, especially on rainy days, as its collection is quite comprehensive.

The Museum of Fine Arts has European paintings dating from the 14th century to the present day.

There are paintings by various Italian masters such as Tintoretto and Veronese, as well as works by Flemish artists such as Rogier van der Weyden. The visitor also finds contemporary works of art.

Practical information – Open every day at different times. Adult ticket €3.50. For more information, check out the official website here.

Men’s Abbey (Abbaye-Aux-Hommes) and Ladies’ Abbey (Abbaye-Aux-Dames)

Things to do in Caen
Abbaye-Aux-Hommes

The Abbeys of Men and Ladies are two historic gems preserved in Caen, having a peculiar history linked to the main character of this city, William the Conqueror.

The Abbey of Men, also known as the Abbey of Saint Etienne, was built at the behest of William himself in the 11th century.

In the 18th century, this abbey underwent renovations that culminated in its Romanesque and Gothic style. in the abbey is the William’s tomb.

Things to do in Caen
Abbaye-Aux-Dames

The Damas Abbey was founded by the wife of King William, the Queen Matilda. His grave is located in this abbey, also known as Igreja da Trindade.

It is a beautiful church, especially on the outside (pictured above)

These two churches are closely linked to the history of Caen, King William and Queen Matilda, who did not have their marriage viewed favorably by the Church, due to the kinship between the two.

Practical information – The two abbeys are free, but there are guided tours. For more information about the Damas Abbey, click here. For more information about the Abbey of Men, click here.

WWII Memorial in Caen

Things to do in Caen
Source: Ouest France

One of the most visited museums dedicated to the Second World War located in Caen is the Caen Memorial.

The Memorial focuses on approaching from the origins of this world catastrophe to the end of the Cold War, giving special emphasis to the battles that took place in Normandy and its liberation process.

practical information – End Esplanade General Eisenhower. Adult ticket €19.80. For more information, check out the official website here.

La Colline aux Oiseaux

Roses garden. Source: Wikimedia

When visiting Memorial de Caen, it is worth continuing the tour to La Colline aux Oiseaux park, one of the best green areas in the city.

With totally free admission, the park offers rose garden, a labyrinth garden and even a typical Norman farm with animals.

Without a doubt, visiting La Colline aux Oiseaux in spring is even more special, because the flowers will be open and the weather will be more inviting to be outside.

On the official website of Caen, there is more information about the place.

D-Day beaches

Things to do in Caen
American Cemetery near Omaha Beach

D-Day was one of the most important battles of the bloody Second World War. In 1944, the Allied States planned a invasion of Normandyin northern France, a region very close to England.

This operation involved troops from the US, Britain and Canada, who subdivided the 50 miles of Normandy coastline into beaches with specific names, the well-known D-Day Beaches.

The Americans were responsible for Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, it was this last beach that we visited, exactly on June 6th. Check out our post on travel tips to get to know the D-Day beaches.

Map with the sights of Caen

Check the location of the main attractions in Caen on the map. Just click on the “arrow button” to access the map legend.

We hope that the tips on what to do in Caen have been helpful for your trip! Also know where to stay in Caen!

Good trip!

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