I haven’t always loved peace and quiet the way I have now. For a long time, I thought that a big city with its crazy atmosphere and non-stop lifestyle was what I wanted. But priorities, along with so many other things in our day-to-day growth in life, change, and I have decided that I am irreversibly in love with the peace and beauty of the countryside.

Caen is a city that is home to over 100,000 people (Fargo-size), so it is not a booming metropolis, nor is it a small city. There are always things to do, places to go and people to meet in Caen, and if you need proof, consult my accolades of the city earlier this month. But as beautiful as architecture is and old-town sights are, I crave the quiet of the hills that surround Caen. I can see them from my window and they seem to taunt me, just out of reach for a busy student with more French language studying than she can possibly conquer.

But recently, I vacated my stuffy dorm room and my studies, and Molly showed me the most delightfully calm and beautiful place. The area near the hippodrome is right on the edge of Caen, and just far enough away to be “away from it all.” On a lazy Saturday or Sunday, you can amble down to the River Orne and soak in the sunshine with a book and a picnique. The river flows very gently and almost imperceptibly while the ducks lazily tool around in pairs.

More lovely peacefulness

The river, along with the fine houses that tower above the river and look out on the hippodrome and horse-race track, look like something from a Monet painting when the sun sparkles on the river and dazzles your eyes. The wrought-iron gates that protect properties from one another and the boats pulled up on the man-made shores are green with lichens and moss. The grasses slope down the sides of the river and mingle with the weeping willows who, like graceful ladies, dip their branches, like toes, into the current.

The River Orne that runs along the hippodrome in Caen

As you meander past the hippodrome and into the campagne, the cottonwood trees filter the sunlight, their leaves reflecting the sunshine as they wave in the breeze. People bike, walk, and run along the river’s edge. Old men, who seem to have stepped from a different era in time, walk from one tiny village on the outskirts of town to another via the main route and the whole place is completely picturesque and utterly serene.

Peaceful road that leads into more countryside...

Wherever you are, I hope you find peace, serenity and the chance to “be still.” Happy Spring!