Travel to Caen in France to visit historical Gothic, Romanesque & Renaissance architecture. A gateway to the Normandy Beaches and 50 miles to the City of Normandy, Caen is a perfect destination to explore the coastline of this northern region of France.
As you enter Caen, the spire of the Church of Saint-Pierre will lead you to the centre of this Normandy town. The exterior apse is a classic example of Gothic to Renaissance architecture. Walking through Caen you will also marvel at the City Hall with rows of beautiful tulips in the surrounding gardens. Caen is a 2.5 hour drive from Paris and a gateway to Normandy. Upon entry into Caen, you'll gaze at the Orne River which flows through the city. Following the river through to smaller towns, crossing bridges or watching boats and kayaks along the River is a wonderful view of Caen and the surrounding areas.
The Château Ducal in Caen is a must-visit. Built around 1060 as the residence for William the Conqueror from Normandy, who successfully conquered England in 1066, the walk across the drawbridge will have you imagining the knights guarding him as well as King Richard the Lionheart, who traveled here in the 12th century. This significant historical caste fortress was protected by a moat and is now also the location of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the modern art museum. You will thoroughly enjoy learning about the French history and how Normandy was so important for passage to England.
Allow around 2 hours to explore the Chateau Ducal as it is one of the largest castles in Europe. In addition to learning about the medieval history of the castle, visiting the various halls and chapels of St. George's Church, there is also a garden showing which plants and flowers were grown in the Middle Ages.
The Abbey of Saint-Étienne is a Romanesque building in Normandy and for architecture lovers, a delight to see. Built by William the Conqueror in 1063, the Abbey was the resting place of William and houses his tombstone. On your travels to Normandy from Paris, you may wish to visit Giverny, where famous impressionist painter, Claude Monet, lived for many years.