The city of Caen (pics) has a long and complex history, most notably, it is known as the city of William the Conqueror, aka, William I, the first Norman King of England. Commanding a prominent hill in the center of the old city is Chateau de Caen, one of the largest medieval fortresses in Europe, built by William I circa 1060.
William was married to Matilda of Flanders in the early 1050’s, which marriage had been forbidden by the Pope. Apparently, William and Matilda were distant cousins and they needed eight years to secure papal blessing. This sanction came with conditions: both William and Matilda were to each fund the building of a monastery. The result were the Abbaye aux Hommes and the Abbaye aux Dames.
Finally, in order to get from France to Great Britain, we booked passage across the English Channel with Brittany Ferries. The ferry port for this part of the coast is a short distance north of Caen in the town of Ouistreham. The boat is quite large and carries vehicles as well as foot passengers. The passage from Ouistreham to Portsmouth, England, took about 5 hours and involved a time change, France is on Central Europe Time and the UK is, of course Greenwich Mean Time, one hour earlier.