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What is Caen like ?

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Caen is OK.

I used to go there regularly to meetings, conferences, events, the gym, a day out shopping etc.

On the outskirts it has various "hubs" as they call them these days - a public administration hub with various government offices, business hubs, science hubs, massive retail parks.

There are some very nice des-res communes between Caen and the coast.

There are also some depressing areas.

Part of the centre was all dug up last time I was there and it was causing bad traffic jams but I guess it will have been put back together again by now.

To be honest though ALBF I don't see why you would choose Caen unless you had a particular reason.

If I was looking to live in a city in Normandy I would choose Rouen over Caen, it has more character. Or maybe even Alençon. Caen doesn't really do it for me for some reason. I tend to get stressed when I'm there. But maybe that is because I associate it with meetings and stressy things like that. To be fair it has good transport links and lots going for it, and it is attractive with the river running through it and all. Dunno.

PS It would be good if you do move to Caen though. You could come and fix my front door :-)
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Recently, about 10 years ago I used only to go round Caen on my way south from the ferry. But about thirty years ago I sailed (ie motored) up the canal from the coast in a small flotilla of yachts when they opened all the bridges for us to reach and moor in the centre of Caen. Even that long ago the big commercial basins were empty. The experience going past the famous Pegasus bridge was great!
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[quote user="alittlebitfrench"]Does anybody know what Caen is like ?

It seems to be quite highly rated as a city.

Thinking of moving and Caen is on my list. Probably want a bit rural within a 15-20 minute commute of the city.

Any thoughts on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Kindest ALBF[/quote]

It's not far from Pompey by ferry[:D]

Might as well live somewhere nice.

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Well, for a family you can't really beat Tours/15 Km's radius of Tours as a place to live. Schooling, Health, things to do...economy..security !!! etc etc etc.

It is one of the best places to live in France in that respect.

The problem you have in France is climate change. It is too hot now in June/July/August in France. And..it is going to get worse. So in that respect you have to head North. I would not move South of Tours. Noooway.

Brits moving South/South West this year need their head examined.

Caen does look like a nice and calm place to live. Or live nearby.

WHEN I SAY LIVE....I mean nearby...not 'in Caen'. I don't live 'in Tours'. I'm 10 mins away in the countryside.

This is a good website for those who don't know it..


Caen is exactly the same distance to Paris as Tours. Which is what we need.

It is near the beach which is a bonus. We only go to the Med for the beach. Which I hate. Horrible. Not my thing.

Caen is near the ferry to the UK...which is great for the kids as they grow up. I like the idea of jumping on the ferry on a Friday night. I am fed up with going on holiday in France. It has become the same old thing.

Property prices are at lot lower.

Caen does look good on paper.

@ ET....Rouen is a no no.

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Our son spent 5 years at the Uni there, left last year. The strange tram/bus was being completely ripped up for renovation, think that is all done now. Transport links were generally good, when they were not on strike or SNCF did not know where the train was! Centre is attractive with the port and the castle, but is small. We spent many holidays in our camping car in the surrounding areas near the sea, Coast line is OK, but not a patch on St Malo.

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It might suit you ALBF, it ticks all your boxes.

I have been mulling over why I don't love Caen more when generally it rates so high. All I can come up with is that it is probably a fantastic place to live and work for young professionals. There must be plenty of good jobs and all the business centres and offices I have visited have been modern attractive places, there is a real buzz to it. But these places are all round the edge, as somebody has just said the town centre itself is quite small. I get that you want to live outside Caen itself so I suppose that makes the town centre a bit irrelevant. I don't think you would want to live very close to the centre because the business parks and industrial parks and retail parks and suburbs stretch for miles, I guess you would want to live right outside the ring road with a bit of space around you. So it is more about actual commune you live in and the area. I live about 45 minutes drive from Caen or there is a train every hour so it is easy to get to, but I only go there when I have to because for me it's not a town to stroll around and spend time in, it doesn't seem to have much soul. If I lived 20 minutes away I doubt I would go into Caen itself very often. But that is just me, If you want to live somewhere calm but have culture entertainments, transport links, the coast etc all within convenient travelling distance, it should be ideal for you. Just bear in mind that living 10 minutes outside the Caen agglomeration would put you a lot more than 10 minutes outside Caen itself because iif you set off from the town centre and drive for 10 minutes you will still be surrounded by concrete.

There are lots of nice places along the coast. I love Cabourg and Honfleur best. Deauville is a bit of a millionaires' playground with all designer shops and casinos etc but it is still nice to visit. Come and join us ALBF :-)
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What you are describing ET is basically where I live now. LOL.

French cities with soul ?

Can you think of any apart from Paris ?

Besançon ten years ago certainly. Now, no. It has become a dump.

Most city centres now are full of kebab and susi restaurants and general insecurity.

French cities are for health and schooling. So you need to be in reach.

I mean, I live 10 mins away from the city centre and I probably go in once every two months.

This is a two year project, but whatever we do...it is the last move.

Like I said earlier, climate change is one of the biggest factors for me. But also proximity to the coast and the UK.

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Actually I disagree, I can think of plenty of French cities with soul. Or character, at least.

But if what you need is health and schooling, character doesn't matter two hoots one way or t'other does it. I think you would be OK with Caen.

Le Havre might suit you too, it is a forward looking kind of place, it ticks many of the same boxes and you don't have so much "stuff" around the periphery. A bit more laid back, a bit edgier, a bit more character ;-)
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[quote user="EuroTrash"] All I can come up with is that it is probably a fantastic place to live

and work for young professionals.
There must be plenty of good jobs and

all the business centres and offices I have visited have been modern

attractive places, there is a real buzz to it. [/quote]
^ This. We're definitely not young professionals. [:D]

We don't go to Caen often and when we do, it's either to pick something up from ElectroDépôt or to the Sunday morning market along the port de plaisance. I like that whole area with plenty of cafés, restaurants... nice feel to it. But generally, Caen is a bit soul-less - as are any of the towns in that region which were devastated by the bombing and fighting around D-Day. The rebuilding wasn't the most sympathetic. But people needed places to work and live and speed was more important than careful town planning, I suppose.

If I didn't have to count the pennies, I too like the coast along from Cabourg to Honfleur but would probably choose to live west of Caen, on the coast, in or around Port-en-Bessin which - considering its size - is a buzzy little town in and out of the summer season. Because of the fishing industry, even on a winter weekday there's something going on. However, it's at least 30 minutes from Caen. Slightly south of P-en-B-H there's Bayeux which is interesting, characterful and isn't totally dead in winter.

Ouistreham and adjacent communes have changed a bit in the past few years because there are a visible number of refugees / asylum seekers hanging around the ferry port day and night in the hope of an opportunity to stowaway. It has changed the feel of that little town - the fish market at the port is always worth a visit though and it's only about 20 minutes from the centre of Caen.

If I wanted to be in that area, I'd probably consider Cherbourg over Caen. The coastline is plentiful, varied, and the only place to avoid is Flamanville. And downwind. [6]

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@ B&B, there is a real difference between living in and visiting.

One thing that has taught me in France is that the places that look soulless or look to have no character tend to be the best places to live.

The website 'Ville ideale' proves that.

That is why I would never live in a tourist hotspot or the 'prettiest/nicest/best French village/town/city' type places.

We are limited to 2.5 hrs from Paris. Near a city. Like Caen for example. LOL.

I like the idea of living near the sea.
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