1 / General
Also known as the “Ville aux cent clochers” [“The City with 100 bell towers”], Caen used to be the residence of William the Conqueror. Today, it is mainly referred to as one of the key places of the Second World War. Located a few miles away from the Landings, Caen has a wealthy architectural and historical heritage.
Population: 108 365 inhabitants
Area: 25,70 km2
Population Density: 4217 inhab./km2.
Demonym: Caennois, Caennoises
Région: Lower Normandy
Maps : Google maps
2 / Transport
Leaving from Paris, expect to travel for about 2h40 (248 km) before arriving in Caen. All you need to do is follow the Normandy Motorway (A13) and make sure you have around 40€ for the toll roads and gas.
Once in town, you have several options regarding the place where you can park your car. Indeed, Caen counts no less than 5020 spaces, 3 free car parks and 7 underground car parks.
- Roadside parking areas
Never forget to check the zone you’re in as prices may vary from one zone to the other.
- Red zone (central Caen - 1320 spaces): 1.20€/hour up to 1 hour 40 minutes.
- Yellow zone (city center - 3700 spaces): 0.80€/hour up to 2hours 30 minutes
Everybody loves this environmentally and purse-friendly solution. Located at the final stops of the tram lines and at the Exhibition Center, you just need to leave your car in one of those three car parks and take the tram or bus.
- Underground car parks
If you’d rather leave your car in a covered space, please note that the city counts no less than 7 underground car parks located in the city center and close to the train station. As for the fees, expect to pay 1.20€/hour.
Want to travel by train? There are several daily trains leaving from Paris (Saint-Lazare station). If you choose a direct journey, your travel will last around 2 hours.
To check the departure times and book tickets, please visit the SCNF website.
If you fly to Caen, your plane will land at the Caen-Carpiquet Airport. Located 7 km away from the city center, getting there is a piece of cake thanks to the
shuttles and taxi companies.
For those who plan to travel by boat, Brittany Ferries guarantees up to 4 daily crossings to Ouistreham (20 minutes away by car).
Getting around town
- By bus et tram
The well-developped Twisto Twisto network enables you to get around town very easily without loosing to much time. As for the fees, you won’t spend more than you need: a single ticket costs 1.40€ (valid for 1 hour on the entire network) and a 24h-tickets costs 3.90€.
Should you want to visit the entire Calvados, the Bus Verts company will take you wherever you want.
3 / When to go?
- Amateurs à Mater Festival
You are all warmly invited to laugh and dance on the occasion of this artistic festival. Don’t forget to book tickets as many people gather for the quality concerts and theatrical shows!
If you are crazy about vintage cars, this festival is exactly what you need. Year after year, the Retrofestival places those vintage cars on a pedestal. You can attend parades, exhibitions, contests, and a long-awaited auction.
- The International Organ Festival
What’s more exotic than an organ festival? Year after year, prestigious organists come to Caen to play in the legendary Saint-Etienne abbey. If you want to spend an amazing time, this is the perfect place to do so.
- America Normandy Festival
Now that you are on the American soil, the most difficult part will be to choose between all the activities you can do at this festival. Indeed, you can attend X-Treme sports live performances as well as Harley Davidson and vintage cars exhibitions. Early birds can even attend an impressive parade on Sunday morning.
Cherry on the cake, US artists will attend the festival; get ready to dance all night long!
Ladies, this event is just for you. Whatever your style is, you will find what you are looking for at the Exhibition Center. Whether you are looking for your new It-Bag or want to try floral arranging, hundreds of stallholders will be present to guide you.
- Tous en cuisine
Dear gourmands, please do come to the Exhibition Center! On this special occasion, you will discover the latest culinary trends and meet some French chefs. Furthermore, if you feel like it, you can even participate in cooking sessions and prepare your own recipes.
4 / Information and useful addresses
Tourism Office: http://www.caen-tourisme.fr/en
Emergency number: 112 (Euro zone, 112 redirects you to 15, 17, 18, 115, and 119)
Fire: dial 18
Ambulance (medical emergency): dial 15
Police dial 17
Missing Children: dial 116
Normandy Memorial: http://www.memorial-caen.com/
The Abbaye aux Hommes:http://www.sacred-destinations.com/france/caen-abbaye-aux-hommes
The Abbaye aux Dameshttp://www.sacred-destinations.com/france/caen-abbaye-aux-dames
Vaugueux District: http://www.caen-tourisme.fr/en/discover-caen/architectural-heritage/the-vaugueux-district
The Botanical Garden: http://www.caen-tourisme.fr/en/discover-caen/natural-heritage/botanical-and-plants-garden
Off the beaten track
William the Conqueror History Tour: http://www.caen-tourisme.fr/en/discover-caen/family#wtc-history-tour
Treasure Hunt: http://www.caen-tourisme.fr/en/tours/the-visits-autonomy/treasure-trails
5 / Budget in Caen
The following prices are indicative. They refer to a one night stay in a standard double bedroom and may be subject to confirmation at the time of booking.
- From €35 to €60*
The only negative point we can think of is that those cosy and comfy hotels are located a bit far from the city center.
-From €60 to €90 *
You can stay in up to 4-star hotels located around the city center and close to the train station.
- If your budget goes over 90€*
you will have the chance to stay in up to 5-star establishments that only care about your well-being.
Take a look at our website to find a place to stay in Caen.
The following prices are indicative. They refer to the price of one course or a menu for one.
- From €1.20 to €5.50* :
You don’t have that much time to eat? The Sézame & Pavot,restaurant is the best place to have a quick healthy bite. This place has banned junk food to offer fresh and delicious bagels to its customers.
(Sézame & Pavot, 10 rue Gémare)
- From €10 to €35* :
To try yummy local meals, don’t hesitate to push the door of La Casinière. Even if the menu is not that long, everybody loves this traditional restaurant.
If you are close to the historical district, why not have a seat at Le Bouchon du Vaugueux ? Everybody loves this place, but now it’s your turn to experience this typically French bistrot.
(La Casinière, 10 rue aux Namps)
(Le Bouchon du Vaugueux, 12 rue Graindorge)
- To enjoy a sophisticated gourmet meal you absolutely have to try the Restaurant Stéphane Carbone or l’Initial Once seated, all you need to do is trust the chefs and savour the delights of an exceptional cuisine.
(Restaurant Stéphane Carbone, 14 rue de Courtonne)
(Initial, 24 rue Saint-Manvieu)
Make the most of your stay by trying the local culinary speciality. Even if its name is a bit scary, the tripes à la mode de Caen [Baked tripes with Calvados] are the emblem of the Calvados, just like the Camembert and Saint-Jacques.
The recipe dates back to the Middle-Ages and legend has it that it was William the Conqueror’s favourite meal…
6 / Unmissable visits!
- Normandy Memorial
The grand opening of this peace symbol took place in 1988. In 1944, on June 6th, the Allies landed on the shores of Normandy with one single goal: freeing Europe from the Nazis. This museum gives you the opportunity to go back to the D Day thanks to many historical reenactments and short films.
Located a few kilometers away from the Landings, you can visit both sites and keep an unforgetable memory from your stay.
- Abbaye aux Hommes
The story that goes with the origins of the contruction is kind of unusual. When William the Conqueror decided to marry his distant cousin, the princess of Flanders, the Vatican wasn’t delighted with his decision. In order to make peace with them, William ordered the construction of the abbey. Combining the Roman and Gothic styles, the Norman King now rests in peace within the abbey.
- Abbaye aux Dames
The construction was ordered by Queen Matilda, Princess of Flanders. The construction lasted 20 years, from 1060 to 1080. This abbey is famous for its beautiful crypt, where the queen today rests in peace.
- The Castle
Here again, the construction was ordered by the Norman King. The castle lived many lives; it used to be the residence of the Norman dukes and kings of England, a bastion for the English troops during the Hundred Years War. Since then, the castle has been turned into the Museum of Fine Arts and Museum of Normandy.
- Vaugueux District
While visiting the city, you can’t miss this district. Many townies and travellers are attracted by its pedestrian streets and medieval spirit. In the early years of the 20th century, Edith Piaf’s grandparents, the famous French singer who inspired the movie La vie en rose, owned a bar in this very district. Located between the castle and the Saint-Sépulcre, you can find many restaurants in the district, as well as a friendly atmosphere.
- The Botanical Garden
We owe this little piece of heaven to Gallard de la Ducquerie, a former professor from the faculty of medicine. He bought the garden in 1689 and had exotic plants planted. Two centuries later, you can marvel at more than 2000 different species.
Off the beaten track
Tired of following the same trails as everybody else? Try those three options and discover the city from a new angle.
- William the Conqueror History Tour
Starting from the tourist office, this tour enables you to come across the essential sites as well as the little-known ones. Thanks to your smartphone, follow the flashcodes and discover the secrets of those hidden places thanks to the extra explanations you get.
- Treasure Hunt
You like solving problems, rebus and anagrams? Then you will love this tour. Get ready for this treasure hunt and discover the city from head to toe! From the castle to the Abbaye aux Hommes, you won’t miss a single site.
You can choose between 4 tours, 4€ each.
- Children’s Trail
Visiting a city can be boring for the little ones. Thanks to those booklets based on their observation and sense of direction, they can go on treasure hunts as well and have fun learning.
They can choose between several tours, 2.50€ each.
*This travel guide was published in June 2015, prices may then vary.