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Caen Travel Guide: Notes for Visiting Caen

May 27, 2024 7 min read.

Caen is known for its history, its role during the Second World War, its university, and its cultural and urban life. In this Caen travel guide, you will find the information you need to visit Caen and plan your best vacation.

Travel to Caen: General Information

Caen, located in northwestern France, is a historic and culturally rich city that attracts visitors from all over the world. 

With a population of around 100,000, Caen is known for its impressive medieval architecture, including the Castle of William the Conqueror and the Abbey of Saint-Étienne. 

During World War II, the city suffered significant damage but has been rebuilt and now offers a charming blend of history and modernity. 

It is also home to the University of Caen, an outstanding academic institution with a long history dating back to the 15th century. 

Visitors can enjoy a vibrant cultural scene, including museums, theaters, and festivals. The city also offers a variety of dining options and opportunities to explore the picturesque surrounding Norman countryside.

Picture of robin inizan on Unsplash

Caen Main Attractions

1. William the Conqueror Castle

This impressive medieval fortress is a focal point of Caen and offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the city.

2. Saint-Étienne Abbey (Abbey of Caen)

Founded in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, this Gothic abbey is an important historical and architectural site with a rich history dating back to the medieval period.

3. Caen Memorial

A museum and research center dedicated to 20th-century history, with a special focus on World War II and the Cold War. It is an educational and moving experience that offers a unique perspective on historical events.

4. Caen Museum of Fine Arts

With a collection spanning from Antiquity to the 20th century, this museum houses works by renowned French and international artists, making it a must-see for art lovers.

5. Michel d'Ornano Park

This urban park offers a quiet green space to relax, stroll, or enjoy a picnic. It is a popular place for residents and visitors to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

6. St. Peter's Church

This historic church is an impressive example of Gothic religious architecture and is worth a visit to appreciate its beauty and cultural significance.

Picture of Emmanuelle Tison on Unsplash

Eat in Caen

The gastronomy of Caen, located in the Normandy region, is a celebration of local products and the rich culinary tradition of the area. 

With its proximity to the sea and its fertile agricultural land, Caen offers a wide variety of delicious dishes. 

Fresh seafood, such as oysters, mussels, and fish, stand out and are prepared in a variety of ways, from the simplicity of a raw oyster to more elaborate dishes such as Bouillabaisse Normande

The region is also known for its dairy products, especially its cheeses, such as Camembert, Livarot, and Pont-l'Évêque, which are enjoyed alongside freshly baked bread and local cider. 

Other signature dishes include duck a la Normande, cooked with apples and calvados, as well as the famous Crème de Normande, used in decadent desserts such as Tarte Tatin

Local markets offer an abundance of fresh, artisanal produce, which is at the heart of Caen's regional cuisine.

Top 3: Festivals of Caen

1. Beauregard Festival

This music festival is held annually at the Château de Beauregard, near Caen. It offers a variety of live performances by national and international artists of various musical genres.

2. International Garden Festival

Organized at the Château de Bénouville near Caen, this festival presents an exhibition of contemporary gardens created by designers from around the world, offering a unique experience for lovers of gardening and landscape art.

3. Fête de la Musique

Celebrated throughout France on June 21, this annual event invites amateur and professional musicians to perform in the streets and squares of Caen, creating a festive and vibrant atmosphere throughout the city.

To Get to Caen

Caen offers several ways of transportation, making this city an accessible destination, whether by land, air, or water. Here are the ways to get to Caen.

1. By Air: Caen-Carpiquet Airport (Aéroport de Caen-Carpiquet)

This airport, about 7 km west of the city, offers regional and domestic flights, as well as some international flights. From the airport, you can take a cab, a shuttle service, or rent a car to reach Caen.

2. By Land: Highway A13, Highway A84 and Station: Gare de Caen

The A13 freeway connects Caen to Paris and the A84 freeway connects to Rennes and the south of France. There are also regular bus services connecting Caen to other cities in France and Europe.

The station offers regional and intercity train services, as well as connections to the local public transport system, making it an important hub for passenger transport in the Normandy region.

3. By Water: Port of Ouistreham

You can reach Caen by ferry from the United Kingdom. The port of Ouistreham, which is about 15 km north of Caen, offers ferry services to and from Portsmouth, England. Once at the port of Ouistreham, you can take a bus or cab to Caen.

How to Get Around Caen

The center of Caen is relatively compact and many of the tourist attractions are within walking distance. Walking is an excellent way to explore the city and discover its historic streets, squares, and monuments.

The city also offers a bicycle rental system called Vélolib', which allows you to rent a bicycle for short periods and return it to any bicycle station within the network.

1. Public Transportation

Caen has an efficient public transportation system that includes buses and streetcars operated by Twisto. You can purchase individual tickets from vending machines located at bus and streetcar stops, or you can opt for rechargeable cards.

2. Taxi/Uber

If you prefer more private transportation or need to travel quickly to a specific destination, you can choose to take a cab or use private transportation services such as Uber.

Private Transfer in Caen

If you are looking for the most comfortable and safe option to get to Caen or nearby cities, book your private transfer with Greca, with experienced drivers and no surprise charges to make your stay in Caen as pleasant as possible.

When to Visit Caen

Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are generally considered the best times to visit Caen. 

During these seasons, the weather is milder and temperatures are generally pleasant for exploring the city and its surroundings. Spring is especially lovely due to the blooming of the city's gardens and parks.

In addition, you will find fewer crowds compared to the summer months, allowing you to enjoy the tourist attractions at your leisure.

Destinations Near Caen

Caen combines history, culture, gastronomy, and natural beauty to offer tourists an unforgettable experience in the heart of Normandy.

In turn, because of its proximity to Paris and Bordeaux, many travelers combine their visit to Caen with these beautiful destinations.

Are you looking for incredible historical sites? Do you want to discover a vibrant culture? Do you want to taste delicious dishes?

If your answer is "yes", at Greca we have several proposals for packages to Caen, which you can modify and adapt according to your needs and times.

There are trips for all tastes, choose your own adventure according to your needs!

More Travel Guides!

If you are interested in learning more about destinations like this one, we invite you to visit our Travel Guides section and plan your next adventure with Greca!

What is the most famous culinary specialty of Caen?

One of Caen's most famous culinary specialties is "Calvados", a type of apple brandy produced in the region.

Which famous monument is located on the Place William the Conqueror in Caen?

An equestrian statue of William the Conqueror himself is located in the Place William the Conqueror.

Which museum in Caen focuses on 20th-century history?

The Caen Memorial is a museum dedicated to 20th-century history, with a special focus on World War II and the Cold War.

What historic building in Caen houses the city's town hall?

Caen City Hall is located in the former Ducal Palace, a historic building dating back to the 15th century.

Which famous river flows through the city of Caen?

The Orne River flows through the city of Caen.

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