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bootlegga Caen - A travel report by James
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Caen,  France - flag France -  Basse-Normandie
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bootlegga's travel reports

Also the birthplace of William the Conqueror

  14 votes
Page: 1 2
Caen, the home of William the Conqueror, was also the scene of fierce fighting between the Allies and the Germans after D-Day. Today it is a metropolitan city of about 70,000 people and a major centre in Normandy.


The Chateau Ducal
The Chateau Ducal
Caen is the home of William the Conqueror and also the jumping off point for tours of the D-Day beaches. A medium-sized city, it has a ring road and an efficient bus/tram system, so travelling around town is easy. Some major sites in town include the Chateau Ducal castle in the centre of town, and the town's two major abbeys, the Abbaye-aux-Hommes and the Abbaye-aux-Dames.

The British and Canadian beaches are only about 20 km away, but you'll need to rent a car/scooter to get to see them, as Caen's buses don't go that far. There are also several tour companies that will take you on tours of the battlefields you want to see, even picking you up in Caen at your hotel.

http://www.ville-cae-n.fr/Infos_mairie/ presentation/anglais-/tourisme.htm

In the summer, the D-Day beaches come alive with tourists from all over France, looking to swim and sunbathe.

Favourite spots:
Longeur Battery
Longeur Battery
The D-Day beaches are unforgettable. Kilometres of coastline dotted with bunkers and war memorials, it takes at least a full day to see them. From Pegasus Bridge near the Sword/Gold beach to Point-du-Hoc on the American beach, there are dozens of sights to see. One of the best is Longeur Battery, just to the south of Gold beach. A series of bunkers with heavy guns still in place, it dominated both Omaha and Gold beach and had to be taken as soon as possible. Built on a massive cliff, it must have been a daunting task.

What's really great:
A DD tank that sank on D-Day
A DD tank that sank on D-Day
Caen is well developed and has an excellent train and tram system that can get you to most parts of town fairly easily. If you plan to head to the beaches, then you’ll need to take a tour, hitchhike, or rent a car and drive yourself.

Sights:
Pegasus Bridge memorial
Pegasus Bridge memorial
Like many cities in France, there is a cathedral that resembles Notre dame, although it is somewhat smaller. Similarily, the L'Abbaye-aux-Hommes and L'Abbaye-aux-Dames tower over the city. Both were founded William the conqueror and his wife Matilda.

Just off the downtown is the Chateau Ducal, a castle built by William the Conqueror. It is huge and most of it is free and open to the public all day long. Right across the street from the Chateau Ducal is a wooden building used by knights in the 15th century.

Another must see is the Caen Memorial Museum. It is a bit pricey, at 18 Euros, but it is huge and worth the time and money. Instead of a regular war museum, it instead focuses on peace and how people suffer during conflicts.

If you are in the mood for a little fun, check out Festyland. This amusement park has rides, waterslides and live jousting displays (from June – August). Admission is about 11 Euros for adults and 9 Euros for children.

www.festyland.com/

Accommodations:
A warning to soldiers on D-Day
A warning to soldiers on D-Day
After a lot of looking, we settled on the Hotel Bernieres, in central Caen. It is only a block from the Chateau Ducal, and a block away in the other direction is the ‘port’ of Caen, with many fine restaurants and pubs. It didn’t have an elevator, so I wouldn’t recommend it for older travelers, as it is five stories and at the end of the day, that trip can be exhausting…especially with a heavy pack. For an extra 5-6 euros, you can enjoy a nice continental breakfast.

www.hotelbernieres.com

To be sure, there are plenty of good hotels in Caen, from Best Westerns to bed and breakfasts.

Restaurants:
The marina is a short walk from this tower, a remnant of the Chateau Ducal
The marina is a short walk from this tower, a remnant of the Chateau Ducal
There are plenty of restaurants near the marina, about a block and half from the Chateau Ducal. In this area are a ton of great pubs and restaurants. An pretty decent Irish pub was across from the marina.

Other recommendations:
Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint Michel
Obviously, all the D-Day beaches and paratroop landing sites are easily accessible from Caen.

About an hour from Cane by car is one of France’s biggest tourist attractions, Mont St. Michel. A massive Francisan Abbey built in about 900, it is located on a small island separated from the mainland by the tide. When the tide goes out it can be reached, when it comes in, much of the surrounding land floods and becomes a mass of quicksand and tide pools.

Published on Saturday July 22th, 2006


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Sat, Jul 29 2006 - 12:41 PM rating by st.vincent

Sounds like an interesting place to look around James.

Mon, Jul 24 2006 - 05:05 AM rating by marianne

James,
i was slightly disappointed as the title suggested that I would read about William the Conqueror. I am interested in him and not so much in the D-Day beaches.

I like you photo of Mont St Michel. I was there a long time ago as a child. The water taste slightly salty I suppose no longer these days.
Marianne

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