Caen: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 49°10′59″N 0°22′10″W / 49.1830555556°N 0.369444444444°W / 49.1830555556; -0.369444444444

Commune of Caen
Abbaye aux Hommes

Caen is located in France
Country France
Region Basse-Normandie
Department Calvados
Arrondissement Caen
Intercommunality Caen la Mer
Mayor Philippe Duron (PS)
Elevation 2–73 m (6.6–240 ft)
(avg. 8 m/26 ft)
Land area1 25.70 km2 (9.92 sq mi)
Population2 110,399  (2006[1])
 - Density 4,296 /km2 (11,130 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 14118/ 14000, 14300
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Caen (French pronunciation: [kɑ̃]) is a commune in north-western France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region that sounds like Kong. It is located 15 km (9.3 mi) inland from the English Channel.

Caen is known for its historical buildings built during the reign of William the Conqueror, who was buried here, and for the Battle for Caen—heavy fighting that took place in and around Caen during the Battle of Normandy in 1944, destroying much of the town.

At 2 hours north-west of Paris, and connected to the south of England by the ferry line-Caen (Ouistreham)-Portsmouth, Caen is located in the centre of its northern region, over which it exercises its political power, economic and cultural.

As the city of William the Conqueror, the city has inherited a magnificent heritage, it has tended over the centuries until the Second World War, where it was also a key site of the Battle of Normandy. The city has preserved the memory by building a memorial for peace.

Located a few miles from the coast, the landing beaches, the bustling resort of Deauville and Cabourg, Norman Switzerland or Pays d'Auge (often considered the archetype of Normandy), Caen offers all possible services.

Populated intramural 113,249 inhabitants (population 2006), and the leader of an urban area of 420 000 inhabitants, Caen is the first city of Lower Normandy. It is also the second largest municipality (after Le Havre) and the third largest city (after Rouen and Le Havre) of Normandy. The metropolitan area of Caen, in turn, is the second of Normandy after that of Rouen, and occupies the 21st rank nationally.





Current arms :

« Gules, a single-towered open castle Or, windowed and masoned sable. »

Under the Ancien Régime : Per fess, gules and azure, 3 fleurs de lys Or.

During the Premier Empire, Gules, a single-towered castle Or, a chief of Good Imperial Cities (gules, 3 bees Or).


Today, Caen has no motto. But it used to have one, which did not survive the French Revolution (hence the archaic spelling) [3] :

« Un Dieu, un Roy, une Foy, une Loy. »

(One God, one King, one Faith, one Law.)

This motto is reflected in a notable old Chant royal.[4]


Caen's Home port code is CN


In 1346 King Edward III of England led his army against the city hoping to loot it. On 26 July 1346 his troops stormed the city and sacked it, killing 3,000 of its citizens and burning much of the merchants' quarter. During the attack English officials searched its archives and found a copy of the 1339 Franco-Norman plot to invade England, devised by Philip VI of France and Normandy. This was subsequently used as propaganda to justify the supplying and financing of the conflict and its continuation. Only the castle of Caen held out, despite attempts to besiege it. A few days later the English left, marching to the east and on to their victory at the Battle of Crécy.

World War II

During the Battle of Normandy in World War II, Caen was liberated in early July, a month after the Normandy landings, particularly those by British I Corps on 6 June 1944. British and Canadian troops had intended to capture the town on D-Day. However they were held up north of the city until 9 July, when an intense bombing campaign during Operation Charnwood destroyed much of the city but allowed the Allies to seize its western quarters, a month later than Montgomery's original plan. During the battle, many of the town's inhabitants sought refuge in the Abbaye aux Hommes ("Peoples' Abbey"), built by William the Conqueror some 800 years before.


Post-World War II work included the reconstruction of complete districts of the city and the university campus. It took 14 years (1948–1962) and led to the current urbanization of Caen. Having lost many of its historic quarters and its university campus in the war, the city doesn't possess what some might call the 'feel' of a traditional Normandy town such as Honfleur, Rouen, Cabourg, Deauville and Bayeux.

The Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit filmed the D-Day offensive and Orne breakout several weeks later, then returned several months later to document the town's recovery efforts. The resulting film You Can't Kill a City is preserved in the National Archives of Canada.



Year 1070 of the Parker manuscript[5] of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle refers to Caen as "Kadum" [6]. Despite a lack of sources as to the origin of the settlements, the name Caen would seem to be of Gaulish origin, from the words catu-, referring to military activities and magos, field, hence meaning "manoeuvre field" or "battlefield"[7].


Caen is in an area of high humidity. The Orne River flows through the city, as well as small rivers known as les Odons, most of which have been buried under the city to improve urban hygiene.

Caen is 10 km (6 mi) from the Channel. A canal (Canal de Caen à la Mer) parallel to the Orne was built during the reign of Napoleon III to link the city to the sea at all times. The canal reaches the English Channel at Ouistreham. A lock keeps the tide out of the canal and lets large ships navigate up the canal to Caen's freshwater harbours.

Main sights


The castle, Château de Caen, built circa 1060 by William the Conqueror, who successfully conquered England in 1066, is one of the largest medieval fortresses of Western Europe. It remained an essential feature of Norman strategy and policy. At Christmas 1182 a royal court celebration for Christmas in the aula of Caen Castle brought together Henry II and his sons, Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland, receiving more than a thousand knights. Caen Castle, along with all of Normandy, was handed over to the French Crown in 1204. The castle saw several engagements during the Hundred Years' War (1346, 1417, 1450) and was in use as a barracks as late as World War II. Today, the castle serves as a museum that houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen (Museum of Fine Arts of Caen) and Musée de Normandie (Museum of Normandy) along with many periodical exhibitions about arts and history . (See Timeline of Caen Castle)


In repentance for marrying his cousin Mathilda of Flanders, William ordered two abbeys to be built on the Pope's encouragement:



The coat of arms of Caen.

Recent Mayors of Caen have included:

In 1952, the small commune of Venoix became part of Caen.

In 1990, the agglomeration of Caen was organized into a district, transformed in 2002 into a Communauté d'agglomération (Grand Caen (Greater Caen), renamed Caen la Mer in 2004), gathers 29 towns and villages, including Villons-les-Buissons, Lions-sur-mer, Hermanville-sur-mer, which joined the Communauté d'agglomération in 2004. The population of the "communauté d'agglomération" is around 220000 inhabitants.

In the former administrative organisation, Caen was a part of 9 cantons, of which it is the chief town. These cantons contain a total of 13 towns. Caen gives its name to a 10th canton, of which it is not part.


Caen has a recently built, controversial guided bus system—built by Bombardier Transportation and modelled on its Guided Light Transit technology—and a very efficient network of city buses, operated under the name Twisto. Faced with the residents' anger against the project, the municipality had to pursue the project with only 23% of the population in favour of the new form of transport—residents were in favour of trams rather than buses. The road layout of the city centre was deeply transformed and the formerly traffic-jam-free centre's problems are still unresolved. The city is also connected to the rest of the Calvados département by the Bus Verts du Calvados bus network.

Caen - Carpiquet Airport is the biggest airport in Lower-Normandy considering the number of passengers that it serves every year, and offers commuting possibilities to the whole of Europe. Most flights are operated by Brit Air and Chalair Aviation and the French national airline Air France operates three daily flights to the French city of Lyon, while in the summer there are many charter flights to Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria.

Caen is served by the small port of Ouistreham, lying at the mouth of the Caen Canal where it meets the English Channel. A ferry service operates between Portsmouth, England and Caen/Ouistreham running both standard roll-on-roll-off car ferries and supercat fast ferries, with the latter making crossing from March to November. The ferry terminal is 15 km (9.3 mi) from Caen with a daytime shuttle bus service for foot passengers.

Caen is connected to the rest of France by motorways to Paris (A13), Brittany (A84) and soon to Le Mans (A88–A28). The A13 is a toll road while the A84 is a toll-free motorway. The city is encircled by the N814 ring-road that was completed in the late 1990s. The N13 connects Caen to Cherbourg and to Paris. A section of the former N13 (Caen-Paris) is now D613 (in Calvados) following road renumbering. The N814 ring-road includes an impressive viaduct called the Viaduc de Calix that goes over the canal and River Orne. The canal links the city to the sea to permit cargo ships and ferries to dock in the port of Caen. Ferries which have docked include the Quiberon and the Duc de Normandie.

Although a fraction of what it used to be remains, Caen once boasted an extensive rail and tram network. From 1895 until 1936 the Compagnie des Tramways Electriques de Caen (Electrical Tramway Company of Caen) operated all around the city. Caen also had several main and branch railway lines linking Caen railway station to all parts of Normandy with lines to Paris, Vire, Flers, Cabourg, Houlgate, Deauville, Saint-Lô, Bayeux and Cherbourg. Now only the electrified line of Paris-Cherbourg, Caen-Le Mans and Caen-Rennes subsist with minimal services.


  • The University of Caen, Université de Caen, has around 25 000 students in three different campuses, all linked by a tramway. The University is divided into 11 colleges, called UFR (Unité fondamentale de Recherche), 6 institutes, 1 Engineering School, 2 IUP and five local campus. The University is one of the oldest in France, having been founded by Henry VI, King of England in 1432.


The Caen skyline facing the Saint-Pierre Church (Photo taken from the Château de Caen - April 2007)


Great rich city, spacious, beautiful rivers, its meadows, its seaport full of ships laden with goods, it is adorned with so many churches, houses and inhabitants, it is hardly that she recognizes less than Paris. GUILLAUME LE BRETON. Philippide, 1. VIII.

This country is beautiful, and Caen's most beautiful city, the more attractive, the merrier, the better situated, the most beautiful streets, the most beautiful buildings, the most beautiful churches, meadows, walking, and finally the source All of our wits. MME DE SÉVIGNÉ

Caen today deserves some praise to him once so liberally granted. In its churches, its hotels, for the decoration of some of its houses, it is actually a vast museum that provides the observer subjects of study most interesting and varied. EUGÈNE ROBILLARD DE BEAUREPAIRE, 1883

Famous Caennais

Caen was the birthplace of:

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Caen is twinned with:

Caen has been twinned with Alexandria, Virginia, USA since 1991. The sister city relationship sees delegations visiting between the two cities on a regular basis. Exchanges of students have been common. Musicians and choirs from the two cities have also made very successful exchange visits. The Toussaint/Halloween period is a time of year when a delegation from Caen will often visit Alexandria.

See also



  1. ^ Urban area 420,000 inhabitants
  2. ^ Cabinet du maire de Caen
  3. ^ French motto and heraldry site
  4. ^ Royal Chant, Pierre Gringoire (1475-1539)
  5. ^ "Manuscript A: The Parker Chronicle". 2007-08-15. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  6. ^ Her Landfranc se þe wæs abbod an Kadum com to Ængla lande: Here Lanfranc who was abbot at Caen came to England.
  7. ^ René Lepelley, Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de communes de Normandie, P.U.C., Corlet, Caen, Condé-sur-Noireau, 1996)
  8. ^ "Twin Towns in Hampshire". Retrieved 2009-11-06. 

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Caen is the capital of the Basse-Normandie region and Calvados département of northern France. Population 115,000.


Caen is a college city, very active. In summer, tourists (mainly British and German) gather in Normandy for WWII remains and the Memorial for peace. Caen is a modern city, 80% leveled in 1944 and rebuilt in the 50s and 60s. However, some old buildings remain, especially churches.

  • trains leave about every 2 hours from Paris Saint-Lazare station to Caen and Cherbourg. It lasts about 2 hours long, costs 29,10 € (full price). If you book early, you can get tickets as cheap as 15 €. Out of rush hours, tickets cost 22,40 € for people under 25 years-old.
  • Note that the train posting in Paris St-Lazare can be confusing to the first time traveler. The train line number ("la voie") is not posted unil 15-20 minutes before the departure, so do not panic if you arrive earlier than that (notice that the train will be at a line number near to the office "Grandes Lignes"). Look for the train heading to Cherbourg. Caen will not be the listed destination, as it is a stop along the way. Do not forget to punch ("composter") your ticket in one of the yellow machines before boarding. This will validate your ticket.

By ferry

Ferries cross the Channel from Portsmouth (UK) to Ouistreham, 15 km north of Caen.

Get around

bus verts will get you around Normandy pretty easily. Within Caen and its close suburbs, use the bus and tramway network, called twisto.

  • L'abbaye d'Ardenne
  • Les plages du Débarquement
  • Les villes balnéaires de la côte Fleurie : Cabourg, Houlgate, Deauville, Trouville...
  • Les petites stations balnéaires de la côte de Nacre
  • Le pays d'Auge
  • La Suisse normande
  • Le Bessin
  • Le Bocage virois
  • Le Mont Saint Michel
  • Memorial for peace: a modern museum focusing on second world war and the Cold War:
  • L'abbaye aux Hommes (Men's abbey) and l'abbaye aux Dames (women's abbey), wonderful example of romanic architecture
  • Fine arts museum
  • Museum of Normandy, within the Castle (free entrance)
  • Caen Castle / Château ducal de Caen - William the Conqueror's castle, one of the largest medieval castles in Europe
  • Saint-Pierre church
  • Saint-Nicolas church and cemetery
  • Escoville mansion
  • Saint-Jean church
  • Vaugueux district
  • La rue Froide and Saint-Sauveur church
  • Caen is 15 km away from the D-Day beaches


The Vaugueux is full of restaurants.


The Rue Ecuyère, near to the Rue Saint Pierre is famous for its bars. If you are looking for a pub, you will find some at the harbour located Quai Vendeuve.

  • The little 17-th century harbor of Honfleur (179 km north-east)
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CAEN, a city of north-western France, capital of the department of Calvados, 7-1m. from the English Channel and 149 m. W.N.W. of Paris on the Western railway to Cherbourg. Pop. (1906) 36,247. It is situated in the valley and on the left bank of the Orne, the right bank of which is occupied by the suburb of Vaucelles with the station of the Western railway. To the south-west of Caen, the Orne is joined by the Odon, arms of which water the "Prairie," a fine plain on which a well-known race-course is laid out. Its wide streets, of which the most important is the rue St Jean, shady boulevards, and public gardens enhance the attraction which the town derives from an abundance of fine churches and old houses. Hardly any remains of its once extensive ramparts and towers are now to be seen; but the castle, founded by William the Conqueror and completed by Henry I., is still employed as barracks, though in a greatly altered condition. St Pierre, the most beautiful church in Caen, stands at the northern extremity of the rue St Jean, in the centre of the town. In the main, its architecture is Gothic, but the choir and the apsidal chapels, with their elaborate interior and exterior decoration, are of Renaissance workmanship. The graceful tower, which rises beside the southern portal to a height of 255 ft., belongs to the early 1 4 th century. The church of St Etienne, or l'Abbaye-aux-Hommes, in the west of the town, is an important specimen of Romanesque architecture, dating from about 1070, when it was founded by William the Conqueror. It is unfortunately hemmed in by other buildings, so that a comprehensive view of it is not to be obtained. The whole building, and especially the west façade, which is flanked by two towers with lofty spires, is characterized by its simplicity. The choir, which is one of the earliest examples of the Norman Gothic style, dates from the early 13th century. In 1562 the Protestants did great damage to the building, which was skilfully restored in the early 1 7 th century. A marble slab marks the former resting-place of William the Conqueror. The abbeybuildings were rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries, and now shelter the lycee. Matilda, wife of the Conqueror, was the foundress of the church of La Trinite or l'Abbaye-aux-Dames, which is of the same date as St Etienne. Two square unfinished towers flank the western entrance, and another rises above the transept. Queen Matilda is interred in the choir, and a fine crypt beneath it contains the remains of former abbesses. The buildings of the nunnery, reconstructed in the early 18th century, now serve as a hospital. Other interesting old churches are those of St Sauveur, St Michel de Vaucelles, St Jean, St Gilles, Notre-Dame de la Gloriette, St Etienne le Vieux and St Nicolas, the last two now secularized. Caen possesses many old timber houses and stone mansions, in one of which, the hotel d'Ecoville (c. 1530), the exchange and the tribunal of commerce are established. The hotel de Than, also of the 16th century, is remarkable for its graceful dormer-windows. The Maison des Gens d'Armes (15th century), in the eastern outskirts of the town, has a massive tower adorned with medallions and surmounted by two figures of armed men. The monuments at Caen include one to the natives of Calvados killed in 1870 and 1871 and one to the lawyer J. C. F. Demolombe, together with statues of Louis XIV, Elie de Beaumont, Pierre Simon, marquis de Laplace, D. F. E. Auber and Francois de Malherbe, the two last natives of the town. Caen is the seat of a court of appeal, of a court of assizes and of a prefect. It is the centre of an academy and has a university with faculties of law, science and letters and a preparatory school of medicine and pharmacy; there are also a lycee, training colleges, schools of art and music, and two large hospitals. The other chief public institutions are tribunals of first instance and commerce, an exchange, a chamber of commerce and a branch of the Bank of France. The hotel-de-ville contains the library, with more than ioo,000 volumes and the art museum with a fine collection of paintings. The town is the seat of several learned societies including the Societe des Antiquaires, which has a rich museum of antiquities. Caen, despite a diversity of manufactures, is commercial rather than industrial. Its trade is due to its position in the agricultural and horsebreeding district known as the "Campagne de Caen" and to its proximity to the iron mines of the Orne valley, and to manufacturing towns such as Falaise, Le Mans, &c. In the south-east of the town there is a floating basin lined with quays and connected with the Orne and with the canal which debouches into the sea at Ouistreham 9 m. to the N.N.E. The port, which also includes a portion of the river-bed, communicates with Havre and Newhaven by a regular line of steamers; it has a considerable fishing population. In 1905 the number of vessels entered was 563 with a tonnage of 1 9 0,190. English coal is foremost among the imports, which also include timber and grain, while iron ore, Caen stone,' butter and eggs and fruit are among the exports. Important horse and cattle fairs are held in the town. The industries of Caen include timber-sawing, metal-founding and machine-construction, cloth-weaving, lace-making, the manufacture of leather and gloves, and of oil from the colza grown in the district, furniture and other wooden goods and chemical products.

Though Caen is not a town of great antiquity, the date of its foundation is unknown. It existed as early as the 9th century, and when, in 912, Neustria was ceded to the Normans by Charles the Simple, it was a large and important place. Under the dukes of Normandy, and particularly under William the Conqueror, it rapidly increased. It became the capital of lower Normandy, and in 13 4 6 was besieged and taken by Edward III. of England. It was again taken by the English in 1 4 17, and was retained by them till 1 4 50, when it capitulated to the French. The university was founded in 1436 by Henry VI. of England. During the Wars of Religion, Caen embraced the reform; in the succeeding century its prosperity was shattered by the revocation of the edict of Nantes (1685). In 17 9 3 the city was the focus of the Girondist movement against the Convention.

See G. Mancel et C. Woinez, Hist. de la vile de Caen et de ses progres (Caen, 1836); B. Pont, Hist. de la vile de Caen, ses origines (Caen, 1866); E. de R. de Beaurepaire, Caen illustre: son histoire, ses monuments (Caen, 1896).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun




  1. A city in the Calvados département of Basse-Normandie, France
  2. (San Francisco) A caenism, something from w:Herb Caen, the late, incredibly long-term columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.




Proper noun

Template:fr-proper noun

  1. Caen

Derived terms


  • Anagrams of acen
  • cane

Simple English

Caen ( pronounced can (/kɑ̃/); in other words, the e is not pronounced) is a city in France. It is the capital city of Basse-Normandie and Calvados. The river Orne flows through it. Today, about 110.000 people live there (intra muros, inside the city); the urban area has about 370.000 people. The city has a very long history; the name probably has Gaulish origins (from cato Military activity; and mago field; probably something like place where the troops exercised).[1].


  1. René Lepelley, Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de communes de Normandie, P.U.C., Corlet, Caen, Condé-sur-Noireau, 1996.


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