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10 months in Caen

Published by flag-ar Lucia CErda — 5 years ago

0 Tags: flag-fr Erasmus experiences Caen, Caen, France

As part of my degree in Graphic Design and Illustration, I was offered the chance to go to France for 10 months, from September to June, to complete Erasmus over there.

I was pretty scared and nervous as I did not speak French at all, however, I completed a summer course and hoped that the similarities between Spanish, my native language, and French would be enough for me to learn quickly.

The city I was sent to is called Caen, in Normandy, north of France. It took just two hours on the train from Paris. Caen is a small town, where mainly students live, both local and international. I completed ten months in École supérieure d'arts & médias de Caen.



The town was so pretty and full of life. I lived near the Abbaye aux Hommes, next to the City Hall. Finding an apartment was actually harder than I expected, as I mentioned it is mainly a student town, so apartments that became available were quickly taken. The University of Arts did not offer student rooms, however, the Université de Caen has rooms available, and I seriously recommend staying there, rather than trying to get your own place, like I did.


Views from my apartment

I rented a small studio with a private bathroom and little kitchen, for about 400 euros per month, no bills included, and I did enjoy my privacy and tranquillity. However, most of my friends were staying in the student halls and they saw each other every day, therefore, grew closer than I did. They always knew where and when the parties were, so I definitely recommend staying at the student halls.

There are many bars in the town, very cool ones too. The main road is Rue Écuyère, where many students would gather after class to have a beer outside and chat. This road is always busy, as it contains the main shops and bars. The atmosphere was always lively, sometimes with musicians in the street. One of the most popular ones is Café Latin, a colourful little place perfect to spend the afternoon.

Some of the best baguettes and macaroons are found here, as it is full of pastries!


Café Latin

The front of the shops and the houses around this area are very old and some mainly made of wood, with colourful balconies and doors. This was my favourite spot to hang out with friends for a coffee or a drink.

Another popular bar amongst students is Le Trappist, this one is closer to the art university, and it is more hip, with trays hanging from the walls, and barrels as tables.


Le Trappist

There are many different beers to try in this place, some cheap like Kronenburg 1664, Pelforth or some really tasty ones like Duvel, Delirium or Leffe.


The most typical food was the salami, cheese (of course the camembert! ), croissants, baguettes and my favourite... macaroons! It was very normal to see people eating and buying baguettes everywhere! And don't forget the wine, specially if you have a soiree with your local friends!

The city is full of small streets with old buildings and is full of history as it was pretty damaged from bombings during WW2. These are the main spots to visit while you're there:

  • Abbaye aux Hommes a very beautiful monastery founded by William the Conqueror situated next to the City Hall, just at the end of the Rue Écuyère. The tomb of William the Conqueror can be found here. To contrast this Abbey, there is also the Abbaye aux Dames, a former monastery of women, where William’s wife was buried.
  • Château de Caen is the castle right in the city centre, built by William the Conqueror, situated in front of St Peter’s Church. The castle is on a hill and surrounded by walls. Inside the castle, you can find the Musee des Beaux Arts de Caen, where many exhibitions take place during the year, and also the Musee de Normandie. This is a popular spot in the summer days, as there are big green areas to relax and the hills offer an amazing view of Caen and St Peter’s Church.


  • Mémorial de Caen is a museum where you will see a large statue of the sailor kissing a girl. This is a museum dedicated to exposing all the violence that took place in WW2, concentration on parts like D-Day, the bombings of Caen and the fragility of peace. At the entrance, you can also see the non-violence statue of a gun wrapped around itself. I highly recommend this museum as it helps you understand the position of Normandy and France during WW2. The museum has also three memorial gardens around it.



  • The port is also a beautiful spot, full of restaurants and places to go out at night. During the weekend, a market takes place here, perfect to buy fruit and meat. I recommend coming here at sunset.



To go around the town, you can mainly walk, but if you prefer, you can rent a bike. The plan V'eol, with which you pay 15 euros per year, allows you to pick up bikes from different parts of the city and ride them. The first half hour is free, and then it charges you every 15 minutes. I used to take these bikes to go from my apartment to the University, as it only took me 15 minutes. Once the first half hour is done, you can park it and grab another bike.

There is a tram service as well that takes you from the north to the south of the city, passing through the main points of the city, like the university and city centre. And of course, buses run to many parts of the city.


The train SNCF can be really expensive in France, for example, it cost me usually 70 euros to go from Caen to Paris! I recommend getting yourself a Carte Jeune, as it offers various discounts and last minute offers. You can get it at any SNCF office.

Other ways to move around the country included buses and BlaBlaCar, very popular in France. Nearly all my friends used it to go to places like Paris, Rouen and Honfleur. It is basically car sharing, so if you find somebody who is going to the same place as you, you just have to pay for a seat in their car (includes your share for the petrol). The system is safe, the only disadvantage is that you depend on other people making the same route as you and at the time you desire. There are obviously popular routes everyone goes to at nearly every hour, like Paris; but other destinations were not so popular and it was harder to arrange.

Some destinations that I suggest visiting that are near Caen are: Honfleur, Deauville, Rouen, Cherbourg and Chartres.


Caen can be very cold during winter, and it normally rains, so be prepared to take umbrellas. During spring and summer, the hottest temperatures can reach 25 degrees.


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