Restored in 1983, Abbaye aux Dames is a must-see attraction in Caean. William the Conqueror's wife Matilda is buried here, and its interior is a treasure trove of architectural details. Most walking tours of the city are private excursions that include multiple sites in Normandy, following in the footsteps of William the Conqueror, Joan of Arc, and Rollo in Caen but also Rouen and Bayeux. To get the most of the momentous medieval history of the city, opt for a walking tour with a Viking specialist. Or take a boat tour that passes by the abbey, offering historical commentary along the way.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Abbaye aux Dames is an ideal spot for history and architecture lovers.
- The abbey is wheelchair accessible.
- Reservations are mandatory, so it's best to sign up for a tour in advance.
How to Get There
Abbaye aux Dames is located on Place Reine Mathilde in Caen. The complex is less than 1 mile (1 kilometer) east of the Caen Castle (Château de Caen). This part of Caen is easy and enjoyable to walk around. A public bike-sharing service station is just outside the abbey.
When to Get There
The attraction is open to the public, however, only twice a day by guided tour, at 2:30pm and 4pm with prior arrangements made. Peak season for Caen, as well as the entire region of Normandy, is during the summer months. June especially sees many travelers who come to commemorate the anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Abbaye aux Hommes
Founded by William the Conqueror, this former Benedictine monastery—and counterpart to Abbaye aux Dames—is one of the most important Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Also known as Abbey of Saint-Étienne, the Abbaye aux Hommes (Men’s Abbey) is now City Hall (Hôtel de Ville). Visit the cloister and next-door Église St-Étienne (St Stephen’s Church)u2060—with its famous Romanesque nave, Gothic choir, and William the Conqueror’s tomb.
- Caen Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen)
- Normandy Museum (Musée de Normandie)
- Caen Castle (Château de Caen)
- Abbaye aux Hommes
- Caen Memorial Museum (Mémorial de Caen)
- La Colline aux Oiseaux Park (Parc de La Colline aux Oiseaux)
- Pegasus Memorial Museum (Pegasus Bridge)
- Ranville War Cemetery
- Merville Battery (Batterie de Merville)
- Mulberry Harbour
- Jurques Zoo (Zoo de Jurques)
- Trouville (Trouville-sur-Mer)