Goodbye Méchain, Hello Caen

After saying goodbye to my last class at Méchain yesterday, where one student told me, “Good luck with living in Trump’s America,” I bid farewell to Mc, stashed N and M’s letter and present in N’s pigeonhole, and ran before I had to say bye to any more colleagues. (Goodbyes are the worst. I hate them.) They’re inevitable, though; I had one more au revoir to say–L, lucky duck, is the first assistant to leave our tiny Laonnois gang of four.

Half of my goodbyes finished, I dragged my suitcase onto the train this morning, bound for Caen. While on the intercités train from Gare St Lazare to Caen, we passed by the cutest little town with houses and houseboats along a river, and I thought back to yesterday, when a student asked what I’d miss the most about France. I told him, “The food and the students,” but I’m also going to miss casually getting to see the French countryside, the little clusters of picturesque houses scattered throughout ridiculously green, rolling hills and along thin, winding rivers.

Nostalgia aside, my Airbnb host and her cat gave me a warm welcome, and then I ventured off to explore. Though the Église Saint-Pierre was under construction, I tiptoed inside anyways, because churches in France are always worth it. Then, happily soaking in the sunshine, I crossed the street to the Château de Caen and the ruins of William the Conqueror’s palace, all of which are sitting in the middle of the city like some bizarre anachronism.

Next stop: the Memorial of Caen, a WWII tribute where I apparently accidentally crashed a film set…and then proceeded to find and run right back out of the bunker because it looked like something out of a horror movie (the soundtrack of clanging metal and shouting overhead, as well as the flashing lights, didn’t help). Fortunately, the American and Canadian gardens were much less terrifying, if a little unbalanced–the American side got a fancy waterfall and lake, while the Canadian part got a pretty quote and some engraved stones.

War history finished, I returned to centre-ville to wander around and found the Port de Plaisance, where the tiny harbor made me deeply homesick for Nice. Guess this is France’s way of telling me that I should return to my study abroad city, someday?

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