OLD CAEN 2
William and his wife bequeathed two monumental abbeys to Caen, situated at opposite ends of the city. A nice way to appease the locals (and God, too, if He's watching!).
William's abbey, Abbaye aux Hommes (the Men's Abbey) is to the west. This is a closeup of one of the abbey's towers.
The area around the cathedral is decorated with flowers and there is also this statue portraying French soldier Bertrand du Guesclin. Thank you to Jean-Louis (VT member JLBG) for helping me identify him.
Caen, 'the battlefield'
The capital and largest city of Basse Normandie, Caen is a city shaped by war. Its name derives from the Celtic word for 'battlefield' and true to its name Caen has been invaded many times during its history.
The most recent battle fought here was the most devastating, when Allied troops spent several weeks driving out the Nazi soldiers occupying the city. About three-quarters of Caen was left in rubble.
I think the guidebooks undersell Caen. They all refer to the disastrous bombings that flattened much of the city during WWII, but neglect to mention the successful sensitive rebuilding programme.
There are about a dozen medieval churches in various states of repair, plus the occasional timbered building and old stone townhouse.
Everything is built to a certain height and in a traditional style incorporating the famous local yellow limestone, so in many streets you’re convinced you’re in a far older and grander city.
We have few other points of reference and perhaps on travelling more in France our estimation of the city will go down, but we thought Caen was attractive and pleasant.
Our hotel was superb, the shopping good and the bus service convenient. Caen served us perfectly as a base camp to see Bayeux and the D-Day beaches.
Give Caen a chance sometime...who knows what you'll find!