Top 10 Places to Visit Around Caen
Whether you arrive a few days early, linger a few days afterward or venture out on one of the “rest” days, Normandy and the surrounding regions have a lot to offer in terms of historic relevance, rich cultural identity, and sheer raw beauty.
|Etretat||Mont Saint-Michel||Hippodrome Deauville La Touques|
|Calvados Boulard Distillery||Le Pin National Stud||Abbey of Saint-Etienne|
|Claude Monet's Garden||Normandy Beaches||Honfleur|
Hiking along the coastal paths of Étretat reveals stunning views of the naturally-formed archways. Historic chateaus and chapels are also scattered throughout the area.
Moyan Brenn photo
This abbey overlooking the tidal plains of the bay is an incredible feat of architecture which took more than 500 years to build, from 1017 to 1521. Perched high on a rocky peak, the abbey was handed over to the French government in 1874 with the aim of preserving it. Monks still live and work here, and the public can join them for daily mass at 12:15 pm. This site will be the starting point for the 160-km endurance race.
Masteo Castelli photo
Le Pin National Stud
Le Pin National Stud, called “The Palace of Versailles for Horses” is steeped in history as the centre of dressage and birthplace of the Percheron breed. Built during the reign of Louis XIV, this prestigious property covers over 1,000 hectares and will be the site of the dressage and cross-country phases of eventing.
Honfleur, one of the lovely harbour towns in Normandy, was popular with impressionists Monet and Boudin, who were inspired by the ever-changing light and picturesque beauty. Dine by the water, visit the charming centuries-old churches, or poke around the town's market for fresh produce and local cheese on Saturdays.
Calvados Boulard Distillery
Calvados Boulard Distillery near Lisieux has guided tours available during the summer months. For only €3.30 per person you can learn about the history of this world-famous apple brandy and enjoy a tasting after the tour.
Hippodrome Deauville La Touques
The racecourse Hippodrome Deauville La Touques offers free admission on select days and top-class racing. You can even bring your own picnic lunch if you wish. Also the location of the polo exhibition on Sept. 6. Nearby Hippodrome de Deauville-Clairefontaine runs flat and hurdles racing.
On June 6th, 1944, the Battle of Normandy took place on its beaches - the largest-scale landing operations of Allied troops which led to the liberation of France and Europe, at great loss of life. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in this area. The area has a number of monuments, including the American Military Cemetary at Colleville-sur-Mer, the Caen Memorial, and the Juno Beach Centre at Courseulles-sur-Mer.
Abbey of Saint-Étienne
The Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey) in Caen is a former monastery built during the 11th century and dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). Along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames (Women's Abbey), it is one of the most prominent Romanesque buildings in the Normandy region.
Donated by William the Conqueror and his wife as penalty for their marriage against the Pope's ruling. William was ultimately buried here, while his wife was buried in the Women's Abbey.
WikiMedia Commons photo
This ten-century-old fortress within the town of Caen was founded by William the Conqueror and has retained much of its original magnificence in spite of the castle keep being razed during the French Revolution. With its towers and drawbridge it is a true town-within-a-town from the Middle Ages, the castle is an essential cultural venue which now houses the Museum of Normandy.
Claude Monet's Garden
Claude Monet's garden in Giverny is an example of just one of the many spectacular gardens and parks in the Normandy region. The flower garden called Clos Normand and a Japanese-inspired water garden and bridge inspired many of his paintings over the years.
Michael Scaduto photo