Fodor's Expert Review Abbaye aux Hommes
Caen's finest church, of cathedral proportions, is part of the Abbaye aux Hommes, built by William the Conqueror from local Caen stone (which was also used for England's Canterbury Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and the Tower of London). The abbey was begun in Romanesque style in 1066 and expanded in the 18th century; its elegant buildings are now part of City Hall, and some rooms are brightened by the city's fine collection of paintings. Note the magnificent yet spare facade of the abbey church of St-Étienne, enhanced by two 11th-century towers topped by octagonal spires. Inside, what had been William the Conqueror's tomb was destroyed by 16th-century Huguenots during the Wars of Religion. However, the choir still stands; it was the first to be built in Norman Gothic style, and many subsequent choirs were modeled after it. To get the full historical scoop, sign up for one of the special tours: those in English are offered in July and August at 11, 1:30, and 4.