My lazy Sunday in Caen began with me nearly sitting on the cat that my Airbnb host is babysitting (look, I didn’t expect anything to be curled up on one of the dining room chairs) and clapping my hand over my mouth after I accidentally used tutoiement with F (luckily, she said I didn’t have to worry about vuvoiement).
Language blunder of the day completed, I crossed the city in search of the Sunday street market. The hustle and bustle stretched from the port to the Place de Courtonne, and I swear those few streets were more alive than the entirety of Laon at any given time. I drank in the sights and smells of everything portable you could imagine, from a rainbow of clothes and shoes, to fresh fruit and vegetables and seafood, to books I forbid myself from buying, to sundry belts and wallets and makeup, to jewelry and glassware sparkling beneath the sun, to bright flowers and baskets, to enticing food from every corner of the Eastern hemisphere (Spain, India, la Réunion, China, and Morocco, just to name a few).
Everyone and their dogs appeared to be roaming the market, and I will say that the one benefit of being Asian in France is that everyone thinks I’m a tourist, so I get to avoid people handing out flyers. Well, except for when I turned to stare after the fattest, fluffiest Chow Chow I’d ever seen and made direct eye contact with a guy handing out Emmanuel Marcon leaflets. (France, don’t you dare screw up your election like we did.)
Since I’ve forbidden myself from buying any more books, my grand market haul consisted of three apples, three pendants for my mom and two friends, and then one Vietnamese spring roll. Munching on an apple, I stumbled upon the Salle de sépulcre on my way to see L’Abbaye aux Dames.
Both buildings were lovely respites from the heat, although I spent much of my time at the abbey avoiding any contact with the priest. One person shouldn’t be so scary, but my knowledge of Christianity amounts to what I remember from The Prince of Egypt, so I definitely did not want to begin any conversations. Although I successfully managed that mission, as I left the abbey, two men walked past, one remarking, “Une petite chinoise!” Please, what is it with white people assuming POC can’t speak a country’s native language? Damn right I’m going to turn and glare at you. Ugh, white men. Someone please remind me why we need them, again?
In the serene, colorful oasis of the Jardin des plantes, I probably violated the sanctity of the public space by sitting on a bench and stripping off my leggings and button-down. Before you judge, it was 80 degrees, and I had, in no way whatsoever, packed for hot weather.
Lunch safely in my stomach, I trekked over to explore the vast L’Abbaye aux Hommes, which–surprise!–is much more grandiose than the Women’s Abbey.
I decided to end my day early–by 4:30, the sun, while much appreciated, had become too draining. In fact, my watch tan has restored itself to its former glory and has even acquired a friend in the form of a newly developed ring tan. Thank goodness I don’t sunburn, though on an unrelated note, I’m now brushing off extensive amounts of fur from a friendly stranger on the streets and F’s cat.