William the Conqueror made Caen a strategic centre during the Middle Ages. The medieval town of Caen, with its many little streets and monuments, has kept all its historic charm. It is the ideal place to immerse yourself in the era of the troubadours !
On the attack at the Caen Castle ramparts
Caen Castle stands at the very heart of the city and is one of the biggest medieval fortresses in Europe ! When you get to the top, you will want to get out your camera because the view over the city of Caen and Saint-Pierre Church is magnificent. Inside the castle walls, don’t miss the keep, the Normandy Museum and the Fine Arts Museum, the Exchequer room, the Governors’ residence, Saint-Georges church and many other fascinating sights.
The Abbaye aux Hommes and the Abbaye aux Dames
These two large abbeys were founded by William the Conqueror and are among the most famous monuments in Caen. In fact, they were built in preparation for William’s wedding with Matilda of Flanders, his distant cousin, a marriage that was condemned by the Pope.
The Abbaye aux Hommes
With its abbey Saint-Etienne, the Abbaye-aux-Hommes is a true jewel of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. At that time, the distinguished guests of the Abbaye aux Hommes even had their own home: the Ducal Palace, today the Artothèque, spaces of contemporary art. Inside the abbey, impossible to miss the imposing tomb of William the Conqueror in the Gothic choir. Remember to look up at the sculptures that adorn the columns!
The Abbaye aux Dames
Monastery of Benedictine nuns, hospital, and hospice, the Abbaye aux Dames played since its creation an important role in the city of Caen. The abbey church of Trinity shelters a magnificent crypt as well as the tomb of Mathilde of Flanders, Queen of England, Duchess of Normandy and wife of William the Conqueror. Do not miss the visit of the l’Abbaye park with a panorama of the city of Caen admirable at sunset!
This is a chance to stroll through the medieval streets with the half-timbered houses and to admire the sculptures and mouldings on the façades. Even though there were once many more of them, Caen still has a few half-timbered houses, especially in Rue Saint Pierre at numbers 52 and 54, and in Rue de Geôle with the famous Maison des Quatrans.
The medieval Vaugueux district
The medieval district of Vaugueux is probably one of the most popular and well-known parts of the city of Caen. This is a historic area with Caen-stone houses dating from the Middle Ages. It is also a very trendy spot. Rue du Vaugueux really brings the Caen evenings to life. The old town square, cobblestone streets, restaurants and bars… During your visit to the district, you can hear how as child, Edith Piaf came here to visit her grandparents, where they owned a café !
The Rue Froide a true medieval street
Here it’s like you are back in the past ! The rue Froide is one of the oldest streets in Caen. On its sides, you will find some small artisanal shops, libraries and gourmet boutiques.
The Leroy Tower, the former medieval harbour keeper
Just like à lighthouse that leads the sailors, the Leroy Tower was at the entry of the former medieval harbour of Caen. It’s the only medieval vestige that is left in the modern harbour district.