Although Caen was almost completely destroyed in the war it’s not without surviving physical history. One time resident William the Conqueror built the Men’s Abbey and the Ladies’ Abbey here in the 11th century;both were spared the heavy bombing the rest of Caen suffered and are in remarkable condition. Caen Castle was built around the same time, and was used for meetings between English royals and the Dukes of Normandy; it also doubled as a defensive fort, and is one of the largest constructions of its kind in Europe. There’s more history on the rue de Geôle, with its 16th century timber-framed houses, and the Vaugueux district has kept much of its medieval appearance save for the restaurants which populate it. There are lots of shopping opportunities as there is a branch of the famous Galerie Lafayette as well as several other shopping centres, although small artisanal shops are thin on the ground.