Caen, like many French cities, suffered greatly from damage during World War II. The city was said to have burned for a week after being bombed during D-Day and was eventually liberated. The damage occurred on such a grand scale that there are only vestiges of the past remaining of the ramparts of the Chateau and two great Abbeys that had originally been built by William the Conqueror on the founding of the City in the 11th century.
Those interested in D-Day can visit the actual sites of the landings - such as Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches which is northeast of Bayeaux and also the Pointe du Hocon Omaha Beach. There are many war museums to visit at Caen , but you could also go on a day trip to Bayeux , the home of the world famous tapestry.
Whilst the horrific passing of the second world war did cause a lot of damage, Caen has undergone a rapid amount of expansion and features a bustling University City that has a lot to do and see day and night. It has often been said that the centre of Caen features an unexpected sense of space, and for those who love shopping will like the fact that Caen has so many of the major Parisian chain stores within it.
There are a group of lovely hotels to suit all the different budgets. The Hotel Le Dauphin has been converted from a 12th century priory and features oak panelling, half-timbered frames, wood-stained window frames and antiques along with regal furniture, a well regarded restaurant and a stone-wall bar. For those on a budget the Hotel Royal near the Place de la Republique comes recommended, with its tidy and neat rooms and friendly staff.
They also have a good selection of restaurants for every budget from L'Insolite, a Seafood restaurant on Rue Du Vaugueux where you can eat on the terrace or inside down in price to Les Quatres Epices on Rue Porte-au-Berger, which is a six-table West African restaurant offering such delicacies as banana fritters with hot chilli sauce or poulet vassa with lemon and onions.
As for nights out - you can go to La Tour Solidor which has 32 whiskies to start with. The Theatre De Caen showcases concerts, ballets and the opera. At the end of the night, the Verre Boutielle will serve you a massive bowl of chocolate.
William the Conquerer and his wife Mathidle were only allowed to marry by the pope if they built abbeys in Caen. Thus there is the Abbaye-aux-Dames in the east and Abbaye-aux-Hommes, and it is nice to walk through the town from one to the other.