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Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey)

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Address: Esplanade Jean Marie Louvel | Caen City Hall, 14027 Caen, France
Phone Number:
+33 2 31 30 42 81
08:00 - 18:00
Closed now
See all hours
Mon - Thu 08:00 - 18:00
Fri 08:00 - 17:00
Sat - Sun 09:30 - 18:00
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours

The Men's Abbey - An architectural masterpiece of medieval art and 18th...

The Men's Abbey - An architectural masterpiece of medieval art and 18th century

Guided tours or self-guided tours of the monastic buildings (City Hall)

In the 11th century, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, King of England, transformed Caen into one of the most powerful cities of its time, which the Men's Abbey is one of the most striking buildings from this period.

Born in Falaise in 1027, William was the son of Robert

the Magnificent, the future Duke of Normandy, and

Herleva, a tanner’s daughter. Upon his father’s death,

William became the designated sole heir to the ducal

throne. His succession to the throne was challenged

by the barons, who considered William to be Robert’s

illegitimate son. William quashed the rebels once and

for all in 1047 and became the undisputed Duke of


Towards 1050, William married his distant cousin Matilda

of Flanders, despite opposition from Pope Leo IX.

The Church forbade their marriage, so Matilda and

William sought atonement by founding the Abbayeaux-

Dames, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and the

Abbaye-aux-Hommes, dedicated to Saint-Etienne.

Work began on the Abbaye-aux-Hommes in 1066,

the year that marked the Norman conquest of


Edward, the King of England, had named William,

the Duke of Normandy, to be his successor. Upon

Edward’s death and betrayed by Harold, Edward’s

brother-in-law, William took up arms to assert his

claim to the throne. William defeated Harold at the

Battle of Hastings on 14th October 1066. William was

crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey on

25th December 1066, whereupon he became William

«the Conqueror». On 9th September 1087, he died in

Rouen. According to his wishes, he was buried in the

Abbey Church of Saint-Etienne in Caen.

Abbey Church of Saint-Etienne

Consecrated in 1077, the abbey church represents the

oldest part of the site, with most of the features dating

back to the 11th and 13th Centuries. The choir was

redesigned in the 13th Century to reflect the prevailing

Gothic style and is home to the tomb of William the

Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and King of England.

Monastic buildings

The monastery was erected in the 11th Century, but

destroyed during the First War of Religion (1562-63),

before being rebuilt in the 18th Century. The monastic

buildings are built around a Tuscan-style cloister

epitomising the classical Italian style. The buildings

are today headquarters of Caen City Hall.

Together with the recently refurbished Place Saint-

Sauveur, the Abbaye-aux-Hommes represents a

unique heritage site.

Medieval buildings and agricultural


The abbey also used to be a farm and an inn. It still

houses a cider press, a carriage house and a bakery.

Two 14th Century buildings bear witness to the abbey’s

former role as a place of refuge and a political venue.

- Palais Ducal, which was restored between 2012 and

2013, now hosts the city’s art library and its collection

of contemporary art.

- The Guardroom, where City Council meetings take place.

read more
Book In Advance
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US$ 545.97*
and up
Private Tour: Rouen, Bayeux and Falaise Day Trip from Caen
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and up
Private Tour Rouen Bayeux and Falaise Day Trip from Rouen
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US$ 101.53*
and up
Private Tour: Caen Sightseeing and Bayeux Day Trip from Caen

TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 466 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 62
  • 50
    Very good
  • 24
  • 2
  • 1
Spectacular, but...

It is a lovely cathedral and grounds, but (when we were there) sadly lacking in any available restroom facilities (they were closed due to another function in the area). Thus our... read more

Reviewed 24 May 2015
Stephany M
Orlando, Florida
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466 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 139: English reviews
Orlando, Florida
Level Contributor
61 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 May 2015

It is a lovely cathedral and grounds, but (when we were there) sadly lacking in any available restroom facilities (they were closed due to another function in the area). Thus our visit was shorter than intended. So be prepared, but well worth seeing and much better maintained that the Women's Abbey! Harrumph.

Thank Stephany M
Level Contributor
37 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 May 2015

Church itself is magnificient with daily french masses. However, to get into the abbey one need to go on a French only tour at 2pm, the time of which is not suitable for us. We opted for self guided tour of the cloister (the ticket says you could see a number of rooms like the refectory) as well as the... More 

1 Thank Patrick112999
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
134 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 April 2015

First, William the Conqueror was thrown out of his grave some time back, and even thought they wanted to believe they still had a femur, that was put aside once the French Revolution emptied his grave. World War II damage was limited so that at least is good. The best of the visit was the view from the east. Flower... More 

2 Thank wmcca
Meerbusch, Germany
Level Contributor
76 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 April 2015 via mobile

We visited on Easter Monday Roth our two children. Our daughter wasn't impressed by the Norman architecture or William the Conqueror's tomb, but the rest of us were! The photos showing life in June and July of 1944, when the Abbeye was full of refugees, are sad and give a sense of what it must have been like in Caen... More 

1 Thank Hoosierabroad
Dorchester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
493 reviews
317 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 197 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 February 2015

This is the Men's Abbey in Caen built by William the Conqueror in 1063' fascinating. You can walk through the Cloisters and see marks from thr bombings in 1944 and the main thing to see if William the Conqueror's tomb. Beautiful building.

3 Thank Lesleyannbarlow4845
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
35 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 January 2015

I think I must have been inside too any churches here in France, because to me this one wasn't very special, apart from the lovely nativity scene and the tomb of Wiliam the Conqueror.

Thank annelou
Hollesley, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
164 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 130 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 December 2014

This is where the tomb of William the Conqueror is housed. Stands next to the massive town hall, both buildings highly impressive.

Thank suffolkbirdie
Rio de Janeiro, RJ
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 December 2014

The Abbey was built by William The Conquerer, and contains his grave. It is a XII century constrution, very well preserved.

Thank LAV58
Oakland, CA
Level Contributor
42 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 October 2014

This is a beautiful cathedral as well as an abbey. It is an active site so visits have to occur outside of service times (Sunday morning is a conflict.

1 Thank Carolyn91
East Sussex
Level Contributor
245 reviews
50 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 88 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 October 2014

Hard to believe those Normans could build such architecturally stunning buildings so long ago. Well worth a look (and free - English cathedrals take note!)

1 Thank EastSussexToad

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