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Caen is the center of the region of Lower Normandy, and of the department of Calvados. Caen is a great base for day trips to the D-Day beaches of Normandy, Bayeux, Honfleur and Mont Saint-Michel.
Although most of the city of Caen was destroyed during World War II, the city was quickly rebuilt after the war. The modern architecture mixes with it remnants of the historic part, the castle, the medieval streets and churches.
One of the biggest tourist attractions is the Mémorial de Caen. It gives visitors a detailed overview of the tragedies of the 20th century, including the two world wars, the landing in Normandy, the Cold War to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. After visiting the museum, you may need some time to relax with, for example, a walk in the nearby rose garden called La Colline aux Oiseaux.
The Musée de Normandie in Caen is located in the city center. It covers the social and ethnographic history of Normandy, presenting a glimpse of life in Normandy from prehistoric times, through the Roman era and the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution.
The Caen Art Museum is located on the same site as William the Conqueror’s Castle. here are paintings from a number of eras dating back to the 14th century and all the way up to the present day. It is one of the most important museums in France, featuring exhibitions of French, Belgian, Dutch and Italian art from the 16th and 17th centuries by artists such as Rubens, Perugian, Tintoretto and Poussin. There are also paintings by romantic and realistic artists such as Delacroix and by impressionist artists Monet and his mentor Boudin. Visitors who prefer more modern and contemporary art will be able to see works by Dufy, Soulages and Braque. After exploring the museum, take a stroll through the sculpture garden, which includes sculptures by Rodin, Alain Kirili, Bourdelle, Huang Yong Ping and Marta Pan.
Abbaye aux Hommes is an architectural masterpiece of medieval art. Most of the objects date back to the 11th – 13th century. The choir was rebuilt in Gothic style in the 13th century. The original monastery was built in the 11th century, but was destroyed during the religious wars of the 16th century. It was then rebuilt in the 18th century around a classical Italian monastery.
If you are tired of walking around museums and the weather is good, visit La Colline aux Oiseaux in the northwest of Caen. This park has a nice panoramic view of the city. There are children’s playgrounds, picnic areas, a rose garden, a maze and mini golf.
The D-Day beaches are a short drive from Caen. The famous Pegasus Bridge is just 15 minutes away, Omaha Beach and Colleville-sur-Mer American Cemetery are a 40-minute drive from Caen.
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