Photo of Caen

About Caen

Caen is a vibrant university town in Normandy that is steeped in history. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it has a great many churches, medieval abbeys, impressive museums and cute boutique shops - all in the shadow of the looming bastions of a medieval chateau. A short drive away from the D-Day Landing beaches and Pegasus Bridge, it is the ideal destination for students of military history, boasting some of the finest WWII museums in France. With that in mind, you will find that our collection of the best places to stay in Caen are also historically rich.

William the Conquerer certainly left his mark in Caen after founding it in the 11th century. The Chateau de Caen, encircled by a dry moat, is one of Europe's largest medieval military complexes - so large, in fact, that it houses two museums - a real focal point, it looms over the town with its many turrets. The Musee de Normandie is one such museum, charting the history of Normandy from the days of Rome to modernity. In spite of being heavily damaged in WWII, in particular, during the Battle of Normandy in 1944, much of The Conquerer's heritage survives: upon founding the town, William and his wife, Matilda, ordered the building of two abbeys - the Abbaye aux Hommes and the Abbaye aux Dames respectively - and they still stand resplendent today, and are well worth a visit.

If you're a student of WWII, then Caen is your Mecca. Not only boasting one of the finest museums of WWII in France - if not the world - it is a short drive away from the D-Day landing beaches - in which you can get guided historical tours of D-Day - and Pegasus Bridge is not far from the town. The Caen Memorial Museum, centred around WWII, is a highly informative and emotive detailing the realities of modern warfare. Yet the town itself is not all doom and gloom: it is choc-a-bloc with cute little boutique fashion shops and chic modern art galleries, while the side streets teem with creperies and patisseries, and the public squares bustle with markets selling wine, cheeses and fresh fruit and vegetables.

What not to miss

  • Walk around Chateau de Caen, built by William the Conqueror, and one of Europe's largest medieval complexes. Inside is the Musee de Normandie, charting the region's history from ancient to modern times.
  • If you like museums, then check out the Caen Memorial Museum, one of France's greatest WWII museums.
  • For students of WWII, take a guided tour of the D-Day landing beaches nearby, or take the short drive to Pegasus Bridge.
  • The Bayeux Tapestry is a 1-hour drive away by car.
  • Check out the two abbeys built by William the Conqueror and his wife Matilda: the Abbaye aux Hommes and the Abbaye aux Dames.

This is a popular spot, especially during the summer months, so in order to snag a room at one of the best places to stay in Caen, we recommend booking well in advance.

The best places to stay in Caen

Rural retreat

  • Chateau Les Cedres: on the outskirts of town and set in a gorgeous sandstone chateau, offering elegant and traditional rooms with whitewashed walls and exposed beams, overlooking the beautiful grounds. Unfussy family hotel positioned well for sightseeing.

A Central Stay

  • Chex Laurence Du Tilly: a delightful B&B in the historic centre comprising of three self-catering one-bedroom apartments. Think chic interiors and a homely-vibe.

Value for money

  • Ivan Vautier: a 5* hotel with lovely colourful contemporary rooms and a Michelin star restaurant, it is great value for money. Ideal for foodies and those looking to explore the D-Day beaches.

For an apartment or villa

  • Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of villas and apartments in the nearby area.

Travel information

  • You can either get the ferry from Portsmouth to Ouistreham and get public transport to Caen or fly from London Southend to Caen Airport.
  • If you want to rent a car we recommend you contact our partner Rentalcars.
  • The best time to go is during the summer months when the temperature ranges between 11 and 23 degrees.

Still not sure?

Best Hotels in Caen

  • Ivan Vautier Caen (Normandy) 19 rooms from £100

    Michelin star restaurant and five star hotel with sleek contemporary rooms in the centre of Caen. All the mod cons, fantastic food, friendly service. A central spot for foodies and city style. Excellent base for visiting the D Day beaches and Bayeux.

    Restaurant  -  Michelin star restaurant.
    Gourmet
    Foodies
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Caen Memorial Museum and Caen Castle. Close to Bayeux and the landing beaches.
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  • Chateau les Cedres Caen (rue de Bayeux) 3 rooms from £103

    An imposing sand yellow chateau set within mature gardens in the pretty town of Bretteville l’Orgueilleuse. Simply styled rooms are traditional yet unfussy with polished wooden floors, white washed walls and exposed beams. A family friendly hotel offering easy access to Normandy's main attractions.

    Local exploring  -  Ideally placed as a base for exploring Normandy.
    Sights nearby  -  View the 11th century Bayeux tapestry telling the story of William the Conqueror.
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    Traditional
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  • Chez Laurence du Tilly Caen 3 rooms from £131

    A delightful B&B in the historic centre comprising of three self-catering one-bedroom apartments. Interiors are cosy and homely with a chic and sophisticated charm created by statement lamps, patterned carpets and comfy sofas. An ideal city crash pad with a home-away-from-home feel.

    Local exploring  -  Situated in the pretty historic centre of Caen with a wealth of sights and hotspots on the doorstep
    Sights nearby  -  Head to sights such as Abbaye aux dames, Abbayes aux hommes and the Château Ducal, “Le Vaugueux”
    Local markets  -  Check out the lively Friday market at rue Pémagnie and place Saint Sauveur
    Lively area  -  In the thick of the action.
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays
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