Le Château Ducal
Built in around 1060 to house Duke William’s residential palace, the Château of Caen remains one of the largest fortified enclosures in Europe.
It is behind these walls that William, surrounded by his barons, prepared to expel the traitor Harold from England. His conquest at Hastings in 1066 would give the future King of England the nickname “the Conqueror”. The Exchequer Room bears the memory of feasts organised by the Duke Kings, descendants of William through to Richard the Lionheart.
However, through the centuries, the Château would gradually be swallowed up by the city, stifled by houses and forgotten by Caen inhabitants until the bombings in 1944...
In the heart of a destroyed quarter, the old medieval enclosure seemed to have sprung up from nowhere.
Look at Vieux-St.-Etienne Church
This name of this church is somewhat confusing. When the local people of this neighborhood struggled to build their parish church and dedicated it to St. Etiennne during the 13-16C, they added the "Vieux" to the name to distinguish it from the nearby Abbey church to the same saint built by Duke (King) William in 1066. (Was there an antecedent much older one on this site?). This "duplicate" was partly damaged in WWII but the beautiful octagonal tower and apse still remain intact. (We did not try to enter it).
Tourists in Caeh
We awoke, showered, and breakfasted in the hotel (a simple meal of croissants, baguettes, butter, jam, poached eggs, café au lait, and juice). We checked out of the hotel and stowed our baggage in the underground lot. Turns out that the underground parking garage was under the town’s central fortress, Le Chateau Ducal. This castle was built by the Duke of Normandy and King of England, William the Conqueror, as his residence in the 11th Century.
We wandered outside the fortress walls in the dry moat before entering the Northern Gate and Main castle entrance, Porte des Champs. The castle grounds covers 12.5 acres and contains the remains of the former ducal palace, St. George’s church, a chapel, Exchequer Hall (banquet hall), Normandy Museum (formerly the Governor’s mansion), Puchot and Queen Matilda Towers, and a café and Fine Arts Museum (a modern addition). For more information you can check out their website at: http://www.ville-caen.fr/GB/index.html. We finally departed the charming city of Caen and headed towards Paris, a two hour drive.