Caen is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region.
It is located 15 km (9.3 mi) inland from the English Channel, two hours north-west of Paris, and connected to the south of England by the Caen-(Ouistreham)-Portsmouth ferry route. Caen is located in the centre of its northern region, and it is a centre of political, economic and cultural power. Located a few miles from the coast, the landing beaches, the bustling resort of Deauville and Cabourg, Norman Switzerland or Pays d'Auge, Caen is often considered the archetype of Normandy.
Caen has a recently built, controversial guided bus system—built by Bombardier Transportation and modelled on its Guided Light Transit technology—and a very efficient network of city buses, operated under the name Twisto. The city is also connected to the rest of the Calvados département by the Bus Verts du Calvados bus network.
Caen - Carpiquet Airport is the biggest airport in Lower-Normandy considering the number of passengers that it serves every year. Most flights are operated by HOP! and Chalair Aviation and the French national airline Air France operates three daily flights to the French city of Lyon, while in the summer there are many charter flights to Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria.
Caen is served by the small port of Ouistreham, lying at the mouth of the Caen Canal where it meets the English Channel. A ferry service operates between Portsmouth, England, and Caen/Ouistreham running both standard roll-on-roll-off car ferries and supercat fast ferries, with the latter making crossing from March to November. The ferry terminal is 15 km (9.3 mi) from Caen with a daytime shuttle bus service for foot passengers.
The castle, Château de Caen, built circa 1060 by William the Conqueror, who successfully conquered England in 1066, is one of the largest medieval fortresses of Western Europe. Today, the castle serves as a museum that houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen (Museum of Fine Arts of Caen) and Musée de Normandie (Museum of Normandy) along with many periodical exhibitions about arts and history.
Eglise St.-Etienne, formerly the Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey) was completed in 1063 and is dedicated to St Stephen. The current Hôtel de Ville (town hall) of Caen is built onto the South Transept of the building. Eglise de la Ste.-Trinité, formerly the Abbaye aux Dames (Women's Abbey), was completed in 1060 and is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The current seat of the regional council (conseil régional) of Basse-Normandie is nearby.