So, I just dropped my parents off on their train. They will take it to the airport and leave tomorrow, homeward bound. It was a really good visit, no major incidents and only a few items on mom’s list that she didn’t get to do. But there were things not on the list that we did do, so overall I’d call it a success. It has been really nice being back in Caen, I now consider myself Normand so it feels like a second home. Plus Caen just brought out ALL of the sunshine for us, it was happy to have me back.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Caen lately. When I first arrived I was not sure what to think about it at all and that kind of continued all the way through the year, just unsure. But now that I’m so much older and wiser, since September, let me lay it out for y’all:
Caen was virtually destroyed in the war, unfortunately destroyed while trying to be liberated. Since then it has been rebuilding, re-growing, and redefining itself. It shied away from rebuilding exactly as it was and that has led to bits of growth spurts, in my opinion. If one were to visit Caen and visit say, Rouen, Rennes, or Nantes, they would think that Caen was much more open in a way that most other French cities aren’t. Some may argue that it makes it feel less “French” as it were but to me it just makes it feel more comfortable and able to breath.
It hasn’t been easy for Caen to grow during the decades in a consistent manner. Styles changes, leadership changes, and so it has some odd buildings that stick out or a few areas that were designed in a less than aesthetically pleasing period (sorry Herouville and a few other spots). Also, from my experience, it is really trying right now. It is the Basse-Normandie capital and as such it needs a bit more, its hard being outshined tourism and attraction wise when you are the capital and yet because of the history (WWII) the coast and other areas draw the crowds. So Caen is adding, it’s building, first Zenith and Les Rive D’Orne, and now the newer, not yet finished, Parc Expo. Luckily it has lots of room to grow and expand.
Caen is also playing host to a lot of things this summer, starting small with the channel race, then going big with the 70th DDay anniversary (mostly held outside of town, but still a major part of it all), followed by the World Equestrian games, and finally the smaller but still awesome world championship of Kayak Polo.
So what does all of this, in my small, humble opinion mean? Caen is ready to be taken seriously as a major city. It is proving that it can host major events, it can continue to grow and expand, and that it is finally finding its voice in an area that smaller cities usually shine and where the capitals on each side of it tend to out shadow it as well. Really, Caen is ready and moving into the future and I can’t wait to see how it goes!