Heaven in Caen

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Imagine a place where books line the walls and the tables. People mull around the room, eyeing titles and discussing classics in hushed tones, knowledgable book junkies offering their help from their perch on one of the various ladders, grabbing ancient-looking leather-bound volumes for Albus Dumbledore look-alikes. You choose a book, and when you open it there is a light scent of paper, mixed with rain and a little bit of cigarette smoke. Climb a small, narrow, and somewhat claustrophobia-inducing staircase, and arrive in a room where you can smell the sweet scent of apples, pears, chocolate, and various different types of tea. You wedge yourself in a corner table surrounded by some of the most famous names in literature - Shakespeare, Voltaire, Rowling - with a pot of Earl Gray tea and a slice of Normandy apple pie. Sounds like heaven, right?

This place is heaven, and it's real. It's called Memoranda, and it's located in the Centre-Ville de Caen, in lower Normandy France. So far, it's been one of my favorite places to go after class. It's so easy to waste away several hours in the evening with a book, my journal, and a pot of tea. 

Our resident director here in Caen told us about this wonderful place when we were at the market, which is only a short distance from Memoranda in a large plaza. 

The street that Memoranda is located on is nicknamed the "rue froid" because it's cold all the time, as it is in the shadow of one of the many large churches you can find in Caen (or basically any European city). 

It is a great place to do homework, read a book, or just have some quality journal time. I also like to come with my friends. We have had many great rant and oh-my-god-French-is-so-hard sessions over pots of Sakura tea here! 

Every time I've been (and, let's not try to count), the same nice woman has been working at the cafe. She is so patient, and if I mispronounce something she will teach me how to pronounce it correctly. It is so helpful, and definitely something that makes learning (and sometimes failing at) another language much easier.

Caen is a wonderful city, and this place is definitely another jewel. 

One of my favorite things about studying abroad in Europe is finding all of these little places tucked into unassuming corners and small streets. We don't really have anything like Memoranda in Colorado, and it's really a shame. There is a place called Kaladi's near DU's campus, which is a locally owned cafe and I do love to spend hours doing homework and reading at Kaladi's, it just doesn't have the same vibe as Memoranda. 

When the overwhelming pressures of living in a different country, speaking a different language, and being away that all of the things that are familiar to me, it is nice to have a place to go where I know I will find comfort in a pot of tea and some quality marathon-journaling. 

Do you have a place that you like to go to just relax? What is your favorite way to unwind after a long day? 

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