The present population of Caen amounts to about thirty-one thousand individuals. The town, no longer the capital of Lower Normandy, is still equally distinguished as the capital of the department of the Calvados. The prefect resides here; and the royal court of Caen comprises in its jurisdiction, not only the department more especially appertaining to it, but also those of the Manche and the Orne.—The situation of the town, though at the confluence of the Orne and the Odon, is not such as can be regarded favorable to extensive trade. The united rivers form a stream, which, though navigable at very high tides for vessels of two hundred tons burthen, will, on other occasions, admit only of much smaller ones; while the channel, nearer to its mouth, is obstructed by rocks that render the navigation difficult and dangerous. Many plans have been projected and attempted for the purpose of improving and enlarging the harbor, but little or no progress has yet been made. Vauban long since pointed out the mouth of the Orne as singularly well adapted for a naval station; and Napoleon, in pursuance of this idea, actually commenced the excavation of a basin under the walls of the town, and intended to deepen the bed of the river, thinking it best to make a beginning in this direction. All idea, however, of prosecuting such a plan is for the present abandoned.—Other engineers have proposed the junction of the Orne with the Loire by means of a canal, which would be of the greatest importance to France, not only by facilitating internal commerce, but by saving her vessels the necessity of coasting Capes Finisterre, and la Hogue, and thus enabling them to avoid a navigation, which is at all times dangerous, and in case of war peculiarly exposed.
For minor purposes, however, for mills and manufactories of different kinds, Caen is certainly well situated; being in almost every direction intersected with streams, owing to the repeated ramifications of the Odon, some of which are artificial, and of as early a date as the eleventh century. The same circumstance contributes materially to the pleasantness of the town; for the banks of the river are in many places formed into walks, and crowned by avenues of noble trees.