The Abbaye aux Dames in Caen is also known as the Abbey of Sainte-Trinité, or the Holy Trinity Abbey. As one could guess, “Abbaye aux Dames” translates to Women's Abbey, and that's just what it was – a Benedictine convent. La Trinité is almost a thousand years old, and one of the must-see sites for any visitor to Caen.
If the facade of the abbey looks a little worse for wear, it's because of its history; it was the site of a battle during the Hundred Years War, during which it lost its original spires. The larger convent today is home to the Regional offices for Lower Normandy, but the abbey, restored in 1983, is open to visitors. William the Conqueror's wife Matilda is buried there, and its interior is a treasure trove of architectural details.
Although the site is open to the public, it is only open to visitors twice a day by guided tour, at 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Reservations are mandatory, so it's best to sign up for a tour in advance. The abbey is closed on Christmas Day, New Year's Day and May 1 (Labor Day in France).