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Caen is a quaint city located in north-western France, in the Calvados department and the Lower Normandy region. It is often referred to as the “City of a hundred steeples”, and is about two hours from Paris by car. The city lies on the Orne River which, just 10km to the north, flows into the Channel. The city has a population of 109,000 inhabitants, in French known as “Caennais”. The ocean climate gives the city cool summers and calm winters.
Historic campsites which were dispersed along the banks of the Orne and Odon rivers date all the way back to before the Iron Age. Settlements were created and invaded in and around the Caen territory until it became a real city under the jurisdiction of William the Conqueror in the 11th century. As with the rest of Normandy, Caen briefly became part of England during the 100 years’ war. Close to ¾ of the city was destroyed during WWII as it is very close to the Landing Beaches. Although Canadian forces fought against the SS for close to a month in this area, some of Caen’s monuments were able to be saved. The reconstruction of the city officially lasted from 1947 to 1963. New buildings were erected from Caen stone, and even new buildings were given more traditional decor. The city today is, to a large degree, centred around students, but many English and German tourists come in the summer months to visit its rich patrimony.