Located only a few kilometers from the coast and two hours from Paris, Caen is a city with a thousand facets, rich in history and heritage and where life is good. City of Art and History, the city of William the Conqueror has preserved magnificent buildings from its medieval period, despite the 1944 bombings. The Men's Abbey, the Saint-Pierre church or the ducal castle are all testimonies of this splendid period for the city. Between a leap into the past and a nature escapade, discover the city of the Dukes of Normandy thanks to the tourist and sports routes offered by the city.
"This country is very beautiful, and Caen the prettiest city, the most pleasant, the most cheerful, the best situated, the most beautiful streets, the most beautiful buildings, the most beautiful churches; meadows, promenades, and finally the source of all our beautiful spirits."
It is in these terms that Madame de Sévigné described Caen and its region and one cannot contradict her. At the time of the famous epistolary writer, the city was experiencing a strong demographic and economic boom and was in the midst of an urban transformation. Several centuries later, the city is still as captivating as ever and attracts millions of visitors every year.
Land of history
If there are traces of human activity on the territory of Caen dating back to Prehistory and Antiquity, it is during the Middle Ages, after numerous invasions, that the town of Caen experienced an important development. This is mainly due to the policy of William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders. The Duke of Normandy made Caen his political capital and was responsible for the construction of many monuments that are still visible today. Your walk will take you to the sublime Men's Abbey and Ladies' Abbey (where the tombs of William the Conqueror and his wife, respectively, are located) or to the Caen Castle.
The medieval houses of the historic center are mixed with the private mansions of the Renaissance. During this period of peace, trade developed (in particular textiles and tanning) and the rich bourgeoisie and aristocracy built magnificent residences of a new kind. Take advantage of your stroll to admire the bourgeois houses that line the streets of the city center. The most beautiful example of this Renaissance architecture is the Hôtel d'Escoville, whose rich decorations of the interior courtyard strike the visitors.
The city of Caen and its surroundings were the scene of many conflicts, such as the Hundred Years War. But one of the most striking is certainly the Second World War which greatly affected the city. Indeed, the city was on a very disputed front line during the landing of June 6, 1944. Nearly 70% of its buildings were destroyed during the bombing and several thousand inhabitants were killed. The bike tour will take you to the Caen Memorial which was designed to commemorate the Battle of Normandy and is dedicated to the history of the 20th century and to peace.
Land of nature
If Caen is undoubtedly a land of history, nature also holds an important place. In the heart of the city, the Jardin des Plantes will offer you a peaceful and pleasant moment. This botanical garden, classified since 1942, is full of rare plants and allows you to discover more than 2000 different species.
The "Green and Blue City" tour will also take you through the green lung of the Norman city: the Prairie. This 60-hectare green space includes a racetrack, a bird sanctuary and sports facilities. A must for all nature lovers, while remaining close to the city center.
Located on a former landfill site, the Parc de la Colline aux Oiseaux invites visitors to discover numerous thematic and floral gardens: boxwood and yew labyrinth, rose garden, perennial garden, French city garden... This 17-hectare park is a perfect example of rehabilitation and enhancement of the territory.
During your bike ride, you can enjoy the freshness of the Orne river banks, which run alongside the city, and discover the Caen marina, also called Bassin Saint Pierre. The Bassin is the starting point of the Caen to the Sea canal which joins the port of Ouistreham, on the English Channel. Inaugurated in 1857, the canal can be discovered by boat, thanks to guided tours, by kayak and even by paddle.
"Terre de Jeux"
With more than 250 clubs and numerous sports infrastructures and facilities, the city of Caen claims to be a sports territory. Thanks to the presence of several high-level clubs, including the Stade Malherbe de Caen, and the organization of international sporting events, the city of Normandy enjoys a national and even international reputation.
This is undoubtedly the reason why Caen has been named "Terre de Jeux 2024" for the Paris Olympic Games. Seven sites are likely to welcome delegations from around the world. With the Caen, Terre de Jeux route, discover the sites certified as preparation centers for the Games, in particular the Hélitas stadium and the water sports center.
Find all the routes in the city of Caen on the JOOKS application.
Run, walk or cycle with JOOKS, from the Caen Memorial to the Abbaye aux Dames!