The Core of Calvados, Caen, France

In En-Route, Europe, France, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Here lies William the Conqueror

The Normandy road trip continues, and we are off to Caen in the heart of the Calvados region.

This was the second base for our trip, from here Gary and I will discover more about the historical events of WWII and the landing beaches, explore the city of Caen and embark on a day trip to Mont Saint-Michel.

The imposing Abbaye aux Hommes, Caen, Normandy, France

From the UK one of the easiest ways to get to Caen is by ferry from Portsmouth with Brittany Ferries, which run daily sailings.

Alternatively, you could be on a road trip like us and come via Le Shuttle to Calais.

Or if you are flying into France pick up a car in Paris and head west and it is only 148 miles (238km).

Day of discovery

Although we used Caen as a springboard to other places in Normandy, we wanted to explore the city itself.

The Church of Saint-Pierre, Caen, Normandy, France

If it’s good enough for William the Conqueror, it’s good enough for us.


Château de Caen is an ideal place to start your Journey.

Stroll across the bridge that straddles the original moat, and you are free to wander around the grounds of the castle and along the ramparts.

The fortifications of the Château de Caen, Caen, Normandy, France

Originally built around 1060 by the Duke of Normandy (William the Conqueror), walk around the edge of the fortification and you’ll have far stretching views across the city.

Château de Caen, Caen, Normandy, France

Heading down through the gatehouse you can start to explore the city below.

The gatehouse of the Château de Caen, Caen, Normandy, France

His & Hers

One of the unique things about Caen is that it has two abbeys within the city, Abbaye aux Hommes (the Men’s Abbey) & Abbaye aux Dames (the Women’s Abbey). William the Conqueror had both of the abbeys built to appease the pope, as William had married his own cousin Mathilda of Flanders.

Abbaye aux Hommes from the city hall, Caen, Normandy, France

Abbaye aux Hommes was originally home to Benedictine monks, and now the convent buildings houses Caen’s, City Hall. The Abbey truly is a prominent part of the Romanesque and Gothic architecture and looks wonderful day & night.

Caen Town Hall, Caen, Normandy, France

Although William the Conqueror died in Rouen his tomb is in the Abbaye aux Hommes.

The tomb of William the Conqueror, Caen, Normandy, France

Tempted to?

Discover more of France on your own road trip like us, if your unable to bring your own car or are flying into this lovely country give SIXT car hire  a go. They cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

It’s all about the ladies

Abbaye aux Dames on the other side of the city is another piece of fantastic Norman architecture, it was founded around the end of the 11th century and became the home to a Benedictine monastery of nuns. Mathilda of Flanders is buried here.

Abbaye aux Dames, Caen, Normandy, France


Due to Caen’s proximity to the sea, it has a lovely marina & quay and makes quite a focal point for the town.

Strolling along the marina on a Sunday (market day) it was bustling with locals perusing the 400 stalls.

Fresh bread on the market, Caen, Normandy, France

We wandered back later in the evening, and it was like a different place, all the crowds had gone, and you could hear the yachts masts jangling in the evening breeze.

The Marina at dusk, Caen, Normandy, France

Why not?

Start creating your own French adventure and discover the enchanting and historic region of Normandy for yourself, by flying  easyJet or British Airways. These are just a couple of options, that you can take to Paris, which is a short hop from Normandy.

Or alternatively jump on Le Shuttle and tour through France under your own steam.

Walking the streets

As we continue to discover the town, the history through time and the amazing architecture surrounds you.

A statue of Joan of Arc, Caen, Normandy, France
Ruins of Eglise Saint-Gilles, Caen, Normandy, France
The Prefecture Services Administration, Caen, Normandy, France
What a book shop, Caen, Normandy, France
Église Saint-Étienne-le-Vieux, Caen, Normandy, France

Our tip

Don’t always take the familiar route, wandering down a different street or lane and you’ll discover something new.


The area around Saint-Sauveur added another element to Caen, with its impressive elegant 18th-century square.

Statue of Louis XIV in Place Saint-Sauveur, Caen, Normandy, France

At the far end of the square is the Palais de Justice.

Palais de Justice, Caen, Normandy, France

Have You?

Stayed in Caen? How was you experience? It is a city that has risen from near total destruction at the end of the Second World War, and is proud of that fight.

Evening entertainment

You certainly won’t be short of restaurants in Caen, and there were a couple of standout memories for me. I tried my first ever oeuf cocotte at a little bistro La Casiniere, Gary has been enjoying this dish for years, now I know why.

And I had my best ever profiterole experience at Casserole et Bouchons, and believe me I have had my fair share of profiteroles over the years.

Possibly the best profiteroles, Caen, Normandy, France

They may not look that impressive, but they tasted delicious!!!

We also ate in Café Mango in Saint-Sauveur Square, the quality of the food was very impressive, I went for a little entree of prawns (this was a starter!!!)…

Prawns to start at Cafe Mango, Caen, Normandy, France

… and Gary indulged in steak tartare (you can probably tell, he’s not a vegetarian).

Steak Tartare, Caen, Normandy, France

Our accommodation

Our accommodation for the four nights in Caen was at the Best Western Le Dauphin Hotel, an extremely good location in the centre of town. However, we won’t be recommending it. You can find our review on

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Inspired to visit Caen?

A city with so much history, explore by day, and enjoy great food at night.

Like us you can use it to explore the Normandy beaches.

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The Core of Calvados, Caen, France

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About the Author


Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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