I've been meaning to post info on my Normandy trip for a while... we went on the holiday weekend of August 15th, which turned out to be completely insane, because all of France is on vacation that weekend. Everywhere we went, every train ride, every hotel, was absolutely booked or overbooked. It turned out to be totally hectic. I'm glad I've seen Normandy, but I am making a little mental note to never travel in France on that weekend, ever again. If I must, go to Germany or some other non-Catholic country instead.
The first night we took the train to Caen. Caen got bombed to bits during WWII, and was rebuilt with blocks and blocks of unexciting 1950's apartment blocks. It was the one place we went that was not crowded, because it isnt much of a tourist destination. But it is well situated to explore the surrounding area. Also, as we walked around that night looking for a place to eat dinner, we saw tons of college students relaxing at outdoor bars with a beer (rarer in France than elsewhere, people usually drink wine or a kir or a pastis or something-- the beer must be the British influence?) or chowing down at the dozens of Asian restaurants (again: rare. The French like French food). So, it seemed like Caen was a happening college town. It made me feel like getting in the swing of it, eating sushi and drinking beer. When in Rome, right?
Here is Caen.
A statue of Joan of Arc. I believe she was burned at the stake somewhere near there.Caen was also the home city of William the Conqueror, a.k.a. Guillaume le Conquerant. We went over to look at his castle. Here were the outer walls of the fort, which you can still walk around.Here was the castle in William the Conqueror's day. William himself actually lived in this small castle right next to the main one. Although it is pretty much gone, this picture can give you an idea of the size of it-- fairly small. It was smaller than your typical McMansion.