Whether you visit Caen on a day trip from Paris or stop over as you travel through Normandy, one day in Caen is just enough time to take in the highlights, visit the D-Day landing beaches, and tuck into some tasty Norman cuisine. Here are some ideas for how to spend one day in Caen.
Caen makes a strategic basecamp for visiting the D-Day landing beaches. To visit all of Normandy's WWII battlefields, taking a full-day tour is best, but it’s possible to visit key sites such as Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc, and the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in one morning. Join a tour to fit as much in as possible. If you prefer to stay in town, head to the Mémorial de Caen (Caen Memorial) museum to pay tribute to the Allied soldiers who lost their lives and learn more about the Battle of Normandy. Prebook your tickets to avoid lines.
As the one-time home of William the Conqueror, Caen has no shortage of historic landmarks. Take a walking tour to follow in the footsteps of the first Norman king of England at Caen Castle (Château de Caen), which affords panoramic views from its ramparts. Continue to the grand Abbaye aux Hommes, where the Norman king infamously married Matilda of Flanders, and head inside to visit his tomb. Then, stroll around the historic center, where architectural highlights include the Gothic Church of Saint-Pierre and the timber-framed Maison des Quatrans. Don't miss maze-like streets around Place Saint-Sauveur—full of shops, cafes, and bakeries.
Normandy’s cuisine is renowned throughout France, and it’s most famous for its three Cs—Camembert cheese, cider, and calvados (apple brandy). Book a table at one of the restaurants along Quai Vendeuvre and tuck into local specialties such as seafood or fish stew, followed by a classic tarte aux pommes (apple tart). Those who want to carry on the festivities should head to Rue Ecuyère, the heart of Caen’s nightlife scene, where the bars and pubs often have live music and DJs playing until the early hours.