There is something remarkable about scent. Scents bring you back to childhood, broken hearts, birthday parties, life milestones and everything in between. This is the fifth and final entry on the senses and what it is like to smell in France.

There is a reason that the song “April in Paris” has been a favorite for so many decades: April in France is truly lovely in every way. I have delighted fully in watching the world come to life after a long dormant winter state. The fields are dotted with tiny daisies who wink and nod at you in the breezes, sending wafts of sweetness into the air. The crabapple trees are in full glorious bloom, their pink blossoms dripping off the branches and the tiny satin petals fluttering to the ground like snow. The air around the trees is so densely perfumed that I hesitate to leave the lovely atmosphere.

Beautiful Hydrangea near Abbaye aux Hommes

The scent of sweet grasses drifts along the breeze that whips across campus sometimes in a whisper and sometimes in a fury. The wind pushes along the clouds that oftentimes bring angry torrents of rain that smell like the splendid cleanliness that only spring rains can bring. I take specific joy in breathing in the scent right after the rain and all its organic earthiness.

The classrooms here hold a certain scent that every person who has ever been cooped up in a classroom can understand. The classrooms smell like restless Spring Semester students who would much rather be traveling, getting a suntan, playing Frisbee or climbing a mountain. It’s a unique musty smell that no amount of airing out can remedy, but one day of freedom can instantly ameliorate.

When you walk down the streets of Caen, it’s easy to get sidetracked by the smell of freshly baking bread, pepitos (a laminated pastry with chocolate fondant and creamy stuff squished inside), French macaroons and tarts of every shape, size and variety. Les chocolatries (chocolate shops) make you stop and drool as you peer into the big streak-free windows. There are boxes upon boxes of freshly made chocolate seashells, chocolate bunnies, chocolate truffles and chocolate covered who-cares-what-it-is-it-looks-awesomes.

Tart aux fraises, raisins et fruits exotiques (Tarte with strawberries, grapes and exotic fruits)

Almost as prevalent as the bakeries is the presence of flower stands. Beautiful flowers seem to be endless in France, and the people buy flowers so commonly that to see someone riding the tram holding a bundle of three dozen roses scarcely warrants a second glance. I have to admit, however, that my nose enjoys being tantalized by the gloriously luxurious scent of roses at market. Buckets and buckets of beautiful roses in every color imaginable are lined up every Sunday Market by the fishy-smelling pier for eyes to covet and noses to sniff.

Flower shop near Abbaye aux Hommes

Springtime is a season of newness and joy with the coming of Easter. I hope you enjoy and utilize all of your senses this season, no matter where you are in the world!

Click here to hear Ella Fitzgerald sing April in Paris.

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