France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Men's Abbey, Caen, France
Built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, the Abbey has a long history and rich architecture and decoration.




William the Conqueror, known as "The Bastard" because of his illegitimate birth, made Caen his home in 1047.

His support of the town helped develop it as a strategic site.

His personal life was always a bit complicated. He married his cousin, Mathilda of Flanders, and by doing so offended the church. To reconcile, he built not one but two Benedictine abbeys in Caen: the Abbaye-aux-Hommes (Men's Abbey) and the Abbaye-aux-Dames (Women's Abbey).

Today you can visit the Men's Abbey via a guided tour. If you don't want to do the whole tour, you can just visit the Église St-Étienne, the abbey church, on your own.

The visit to the abbey begins at the Mairie or city hall, which is housed in the abbey. The visit includes the chapter room, the cloister, the refectory, the graceful main staircase, and other rooms of the abbey.

Some visits include the Guard's Room (today used as council chamber) and others the St-Étienne Abbey Church (depending on the mass schedule).

The abbey is made of Caen stone, a fine limestone used in many monuments and church buildings in Europe. The interior includes beautiful wood paneling from the 18th century and a significant collection of paintings.

Construction of the church and abbey was begun in the 13th century. Over the years, the Hundred Years War and the religious wars caused considerable damage, and in the 18th and 19th centuries significant rebuilding and restoration took place.

Although much of Caen was destroyed in World War II, the Men's Abbey and the Women's Abbey were spared.

St-Étienne Abbey church was consecrated in 1077 (with William and Mathilda in attendance) and again in 1626 after restorations. It is richly decorated and contains the tomb of William the Conqueror.

Hotel de Ville
Espl. J.M Louvel
14027 Caen, France
+33 (0)2 31 30 42 81

Women's Abbey

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Men's Abbey, Caen, France

Above, the Men's Abbey and Église St-Étienne.

Below, Tomb of William the Conqueror, in the Église St-Étienne, Caen.


Tomb of William the Conqueror, Caen, France

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