You might remember from a post earlier this month my bemoaning the fact that I had too much studying and time-wasting to do to visit the beautiful green hills that surround Caen. This past Sunday, the bemoaning came to an end because I got to visit one of the beautiful green hills with my friends. And while my French textbooks collected dust, I “parled” French and pique-niqued at Colline aux Oiseaux with Molly, Mary Elise and Louis.

Colline aux Oiseaux (Bird Hill) is a beautiful park tucked inside Caen with such care and discretion that you’d never know it existed unless you searched for it. The second weekend Molly and I were in Caen, we went to the Mémorial de Caen, the World War II, Cold War and Peace Movement museum that has reaped international acclaim for its beauty and expensiveness. Colline Aux Oiseaux is just behind the Mémorial, and I was struck by how much had changed in my life since I had walked those same steps to the Mémorial de Caen almost 4 months ago.

Louis preparing for the pique-nique!

Mary Elise and the Dijon mustard that tried to kill me.

This is the second "EXCITED ABOUT BREAD!" picture that Molly and I have taken.

The sun peeked out between the clouds that threatened to take over the sky, and we perched on the hill to enjoy the panoramic view of Caen while we ate our sandwiches, cornichons (pickles), a salade aux legumes (vegetable salad) and tarte aux fraises (strawberry tart) from the marché dimanche (Sunday market). Far below where we enjoyed our lunch was a miniature version of Basse-Normandie, complete with special monuments (Basilique de Lisieux) and the Drakkar (Norwegian ship) of Cherbourg.

Petite Basse-Normandie. On the point to the left is Cherbourg and the little Drakkar boat and to the right is Lisieux. Between the two and almost obscured is a small house signifying Caen.

After the petting zoo which included “Love Me Pet Me Love Me Pet Me Feed Me Love Me” the donkey (and his brother “Grover”) and some chèvres adorables (cute goats), we walked around the beautiful and extensive gardens nestled next to the hill. There is a hedge maze for children next to the rose garden, and to our embarrassment, we found it wasn’t nearly as easy as we had thought it would be.

Cute, non? :)

Tres Belles Fleurs

The hedge maze that turned out to be a tad complicated to navigate...

The beautiful rose garden that, in about a month, will be fairly bursting with roses.

Flowers poured from anywhere there was a little dirt to grow something. We wandered through a miniature German vineyard and a sweet English garden with flowers fairly dripping from the trellises. I believe it may be possible to spend the whole afternoon in such a lovely place.

Flowers dripping off the trellis in "Devon, England."

We sang show tunes (and elicited ‘looks’ from passers-by) and when we encountered a gently sloping hill, Mary Elise, Louis and I were obliged to roll down it, squealing. After rolling down the hill and picking the grass from our clothes, we fed the resident ducks and lusted after the ice cream for sale outside a little cafe.

It was a perfectly wonderful day, and I have decided that I am, at heart, 8 years old.