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Caen, the capital of the region of Basse-Normandie, is best known internationally for its associations with William the Conqueror, who built a castle and several buildings here, and for the Battle of Caen following the D-Day invasions in World War II. William himself is buried at the Abbaye aux Hommes, one of two abbeys he had built in town to atone for an incestuous marriage — or, rather, after a tomb desecration during the Revolution, his femur is buried there. Like the Conqueror, his buildings have not survived intact through the vagaries of French history, but the castle (now housing museums) is still an imposing structure. Greater Caen, ...

Caen, the capital of the region of Basse-Normandie, is best known internationally for its associations with William the Conqueror, who built a castle and several buildings here, and for the Battle of Caen following the D-Day invasions in World War II. William himself is buried at the Abbaye aux Hommes, one of two abbeys he had built in town to atone for an incestuous marriage — or, rather, after a tomb desecration during the Revolution, his femur is buried there. Like the Conqueror, his buildings have not survived intact through the vagaries of French history, but the castle (now housing museums) is still an imposing structure. Greater Caen, home to nearly a quarter of a million people, serves as a convenient urban base for D-Day tourism, and the moving and educational Mémorial pour la Paix is an absolute must-see stop on the D-Day circuit. Caen is also the capital of Calvados, an area rich in rolling hills, apples, and the cows who produce the milk for Camembert de Normandie.

Juliette Rogers
About the Expert

Juliette Rogers is coauthor of the guidebooks Eating New England: A Food Lovers Guide to Eating Locally, Secret Providence and Newport, and two Thomas Cook guides on France.

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Juliette Rogers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Caen is a commune in northwestern France located 15 km (6 mi) inland from the English Channel.
  • Language: French
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Year round; April to October for outdoor activities