Caen lies close to the D-Day landing beaches, to its own ferry port of Ouistreham (with regular connections to Portsmouth), and to beaches and resorts where you can enjoy traditional seaside fun. Caen even has its own yachting marina, the Bassin Saint-Pierre, reaching into the heart of town.
Historically, it was due in large part to William the Conqueror that Caen grew into a great city beside the Orne. William’s wife, Matilda of Flanders, was also involved. Each ordered a grand abbey, the Abbaye aux Hommes for William, the Abbaye aux Dames for Matilda, both hugely impressive places to this day. In between them, the many-turreted castle was one of the most important in the duchy of Normandy; now, its walls conceal two museums.
During the Hundred Years War, Caen was violently attacked by English forces. In the second half of that conflict, English troops occupied the town for a long period, but the results were not all negative, as Caen University was founded at this time and the city retains a reputed university to this day.