Sitting where the rivers Orne and Odon meet, the buzzing university town of Caen is one of Normandy’s most important cities. Although left bruised and battered during WWII, Caen has rebuilt spectacularly, held on to many of its splendid historical buildings and maintained its sparky Norman spirit too. It is well worth a visit as part of your stay in the region and is within easy driving distance of our Siblu holiday park in Normandy, Domaine de Litteau. Brittany Ferries also run a direct crossing from Portsmouth to Caen: for many of our holidaymakers arrival at Caen's port marks the beginning of their French holiday adventure!
Beaches and the great outdoors
In Caen’s surrounding area, beaches code-named Gold, Juno and Sword are synonymous with the D-Day landings, and to visit them is educational and moving in equal measure. Historical importance aside, these are must-see places in their own right with sandy beaches just right for sandcastle building and paddling. Then there’s Ouistreham beach, minutes from Caen’s ferry port. It is an olde-worlde seaside resort with pastel-painted beach huts and long stretches of golden sand perfect for beach games. From Ouistreham, you can then walk, cycle or even rollerblade along the towpaths of the Canal de Caen to the city’s centre. And in Caen itself, the Jardin des Plantes offers a wonderful oasis of greenery when you can relax and marvel at the many rare plant species.
Things to do and special events
Walk the William the Conqueror way, and as you go, explore two ancient abbeys (Abbaye aux Dames and Abbaye aux Hommes, William’s last resting place and now Caen’s Hôtel de Ville), and the 11th century Château de Caen, one of Europe’s most impressive medieval complexes. It is now also home to the Musée de Normandie, which covers the region's history from the Gauls to the Saxons, and the Musée des Beaux Arts, for Italian, Dutch and Flemish masters. You can also have fun – and get some wonderful views – roaming the castle ramparts. And just outside of town, Normandy’s largest theme park, Festyland, has thrilling rides and fun attractions, making it a great place for all the family to let off steam! To complete the William the Conqueror history tour, make the short trip to Bayeux for its eponymous tapestry or head over to glamorous Deauville: boardwalk, beaches, and a favourite of movie stars, it’s sure to win you over!
Local discoveries and hidden gems
A few kilometres from Caen, WWII museum, Le Mémorial, is poignant, insightful, and considered one of Europe’s finest war museums. The nearby gardens at Colline aux Oiseaux allow you to take time out for contemplation and a breath of fresh air, plus there’s a small farm for little ones to enjoy. Caen is also brilliantly well served for food, whether from the bountiful markets, scrumptious patisseries or cosy bistros. There is exquisite seafood, crêpes, as much cheese as you can eat, and tripe (a local specialty…). And between courses, try a ‘trou Normand’ – a shot of Calvados (apple brandy): its purpose, say the locals, is simply to ‘make room’ for more!
Distance/driving time from Domaine de Litteau