Normandy: Places to Explore

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Caen

With its abbeys and castle, Caen, a busy administrative city and the capital of Lower Normandy, is very different from the coastal resorts. William of Normandy ruled from Caen in the 11th century before he conquered England. Nine hundred years later, during the two-month Battle of Caen in 1944, a fire raged for 11 days, devastating much of the town. Today the city is basically modern and commercial, with a vibrant student scene. The Caen Mémorial, an impressive museum devoted to World War II, is considered a must-do by travelers interested in 20th-century history (many avail themselves of the excellent bus tours the museum sponsors to the D-Day beaches). But Caen's former grandeur can be seen in its extant historic monuments and along scenically restored Rue Ecuyère and Place St-Sauveur.

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