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This August I was fortunate enough to land an exchange to Normandie and the city of Caen that met all my criterias for a perfect holiday : Outdoor space, a cat and a dishwasher.  Well, the dishwasher is not that important when I travel solo, but I do not mind if there is one.  An added bonus were excellent public transport links and no need for a car. And with the cat I got a bit more that I had bargained for as she was an unpredictable little big princess; purring her head off one second and hizzing and scratching the next.  Not that I had not been warned.  And mostly we were very good friends indeed.


A garden full of flowers

As usual the first day is lost to travelling and the second to get to know the house, Pippa the cat, the neighbourhood, finding the supermarket and get the provisions in.  It comes with the story that I have a very bad sense of direction and am terrified of getting lost, so there is a lot of consulting google maps and street view before I set off. Anyway, me and my trusted Rolser did find SuperU and back without too much difficulties.


Pippa the cat in her favourite position.

On the third day I set out to explore the city center and I was pleased to find that central Caen is compact and easy to navigate and topped by a magnificent castle and a cathedral landmark.  Just the way I like it to avoid getting lost.


Caen landmark

Caen tourism evolves very much around WW2 history so a visit to Caen Memorial is compulsory.  Not being too interested in warfare history, I did it my way.  Besides, I was not at all in museum mode. So I admired the arcitecture, walked the gardens and had a snack in the cafeteria.


Caen Memorial

Another «must do» in this part of France is a visit to the D-Day beaches.  Not beeing a slave to the «must do’s», I saw this as an opportunity to get around and about in my selfinflicted carless state and booked a tour.  Again I got more than I had bargained for.  In my ignorance I chose a minibus tour imagining that this would be more intimate and less tourlike.  I soon realised that a small group is only as good as your fellow passengers and we happened to get a severly jet-lagged family unable to concentrate and thus asking unnecessary questions all the time.  Gawd, I did feel a headache coming on.  But I did get to the coast, the weather was perfect and the landscapes beautiful.  Even the American Cemetary was a beautiful spot, giving me associations to Graveyard Paradise.


Omaha Beach

Honfleur had been recommended as a nice place to visit and one morning I set off on the bus.  A two hour bus ride serving every nook and cranny and every resort along the coast.  The bus was a hot and sweaty experience and not like the comfortable and airconditioned Norwegian buses,  and I suppose I was rather exhausted on arrival.  To make matters worse, it was the last week of the French holidays and the place was packed and absolutely impossible to enjoy.  So I had lunch and turned back to Caen on the first available bus and fell soundly asleep.  Next week I did a second attempt travelling on the express bus, the hordes had gone and I had a very pleasant, relaxing and interesting day.



Bayeux was next on the agenda.  A mere 15 minute train ride, this pleasant and interesting little town was very easily accessible .  Although the town has serveral points of interest, the main attraction is the Bayeux Tapestry and so I had to force myself into museum mode.  As usual I had not made a lot of resarch, so the tapestry was a total surprise to me.  I knew it was 70 meters long and extremely old, but the rest was a total unknown.  The tapestry is full of Vikings; fighting vikings in full armour, vikings rowing their ships, beheaded vikings.  I think I even saw some fjord horses.  It was all rather amusing despite the warfare theme.



The Colline aux Oiseaux park and gardens was the only place in Caen that I knew I had to do.  Located close to the Caen Memorial I had imagined that it would be easy to find, but I had to do a second attempt and a different bus and then I finally managed to find the entrance by following the signposting for cars.  Once there I was in for a treat and a welcomed walk in the park.  The immense rose garden is the most famous part, but late August was too late in the season and almost all the roses had finished.  15000 roses, the mere size of it was impressive enough.


Colline aux Oiseaux – rose garden.


My conclusion is that this is a perfect area for those who do not like it very hot during their holidays.  The pleasant, but not too high temperatures makes it possible to be more active than just going to the beach.  The seaside is beautiful and there are many interesting places to visit throughout the region.  I have not yet seen them all and am eager to return.



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