The first Norman king of England left a grand legacy in Caen, from the ramparts of Caen Castle to the former Benedictine monastery where William the Conqueror is buried. To explore William the Conqueror’s Caen in Normandy and glimpse a fascinating time when battles, rebellions, and treaties transformed Europe, visit these medieval sites.
Caen Castle (Chateau de Caen)
Take a stroll on the ramparts of Caen Castle, which William the Conqueror built in 1060, for kingly views of Caen and the surrounding French countryside. The fortified castle now houses the Normandy Museum (Musée de Normandie) and Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux Arts), so it’s easy to spend an entire day exploring the grounds.
Abbaye aux Dames (Women’s Abbey)
Pay your respects to Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror’s wife, at the Benedictine monastery that she founded—she's buried here under an imposing slab of black marble. Though the abbey has seen hundreds of years of tumult and change, it’s been restored to its former glory. Spot vaults in the cloister gallery, descend into the crypt, and join a guided tour to unlock nearly 1,000 years of history.
Abbaye aux Hommes (Men’s Abbey)
A monk’s counterpart to the Abbaye aux Dames, this Romanesque masterpiece houses William the Conqueror’s tomb. Though it’s possible to buy tickets for an independent visit, some areas— including the king’s tomb—are only open to visitors on a guided tour. And don’t rush off when the visit concludes, since the abbey’s peaceful gardens are the perfect spot to stroll following your visit.
Follow the hand-stitched story of William the Conqueror’s most famous exploit at the nearby town of Bayeux, 19 miles (30 kilometers) from Caen. The 230-foot (70-meter) embroidered cloth depicting the Norman conquest of England is full of vivid detail that draws you into the battles of 1066. The tapestry is a highlight of Normandy, and a stop that’s included on many guided tours of the area.