If my weekend in Strasbourg wasn’t enough for me, then going to Caen definitely satisfied my craving for travel!
It’s funny, considering that I hadn’t plan on going out again, after having had gone out the weekend before to Strasbourg for the Christmas markets. Originally, I had planned to go to Lyon for the fête des lumières (“Festival of Lights”) this past weekend, but changed my mind after it was canceled (due to the Paris attacks that occurred last month). That being said, I was expecting a quiet, otherwise boring, weekend in my flat.
But, after talking to another assistant who had been thinking of going to Caen that weekend, I thought that I would tag along. Was a bit concerned about spending more money (considering that I wanted to save up for my big trip during the Christmas holidays), but in any case decided to go for it.
Woke up bright and early on Friday morning (neither of us had work that day) and caught the bus to Le Havre, where I was to meet the other assistant (let’s call her “Noelle”) and catch the bus together down to Basse-Normandie, where Caen is situated. Ran into a bit of traffic (curse you, rush-hour!), but in any case arrived in Le Havre around 8h40.
Unfortunately, Noelle and I didn’t know exactly where to meet the bus to go to Caen, and so we ended up missing the morning bus. A bit disappointing, but in any case we hung out in Le Havre until noon before catching the next one around 12h40.
Had to make three transfers at Honfleur (a gorgeous town-port; definitely want to return!) and Deauville (another seaside resort) before arriving in Caen around 15h00. We were lucky to have traveled on such a nice day: the sun was shining, and made the Basse-Normandie landscape look absolutely stunning!
Checked into our hotel, and dropped off our stuff before going out and exploring the city before it got dark. And especially during the wintertime, the sun tends to set around 17h00- by 17h30, it’s pitch-black.
We hit the Abbaye aux Hommes (Men’s Abbey), a famous monastery that was founded in 1063 by William the Conqueror (of whom the city of Caen is dedicated to). Definitely glad that we had gone in the late afternoon, when the sun was still present and emitted an intensely-gorgeous glow upon the building.
Wandered some more around the city, coming across église St-Etienne, as well as the Château Ducal, another famous landmark of Caen. Other than that, taking in the narrow, cobblestone streets was also a pleasant experience:
Had some time to kill before restaurants opened up for dinner, so we strolled along the main street in the centre-ville until 19h00, when we had a three-course meal with kir wine apéritif at a tavern-style restaurant. Meal was all right, overly salty, but definitely was full afterwards!
Returned back to our hotel (by then, it was past 21h00). Showered, and turned in for the night.
The next day was Saturday, and so Noelle and I checked out of our hotel before hitting up the Mémorial de Caen, a war and museum memorial located in the outskirts of the city itself. It is primarily dedicated to the history of World War II, especially in the region of Normandy where many of the Allied battles (ie. D-Day beaches) took place. Also saw the “Unconditional Surrender” statue, modeled after the famous 1945 photograph V-J Day in Times Square. Also heard that the statue is quite controversial, especially among feminists… 😛
Afterwards, we headed back to the Château Ducal, where the musée des Beaux-Arts was also located in. We had planned to check out the museum, but it was closed until 14h00. We also found out that admission wasn’t completely free and, considering that we had less than an hour before we needed to board our bus back to Le Havre, we decided not to visit the museum.
In any case, we hung out on the castle grounds for a bit, and got this lovely shot of église Saint-Pierre from there:
Headed back to the train station around 14h30, where we were to board the bus at 15h20 back to Le Havre. Was a tiring three-hour ride back, where I also needed to catch another bus back to my small town, but regardless I was satisfied.
I am glad that I had decided to go out this past weekend, despite the fact that I spent more money than I should have. Not to say that it was a ton (around 75 euros), but again, I had been planning to save for my vacation during Noël. But then again, no regrets! I am happy to have explored the other side of Normandy, and satisfied my visit to Caen, which had been on my bucket list of places to see. Considering that Caen is not that far away from where I am, I definitely plan to go back again in the near future, perhaps to see other famous places like Honfleur, Le Mont St-Michel, St. Malo, and of course the Landing Beaches.
More travels to come in the upcoming weeks. Until then, I need a break! Take care. 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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