I went to Grenoble this past weekend with two of my friends from the UC EAP Language and Culture Program, as a spur of the moment idea just so we would be out of Lyon for a weekend. Since the program is starting to come to a close (eeep!!) we are all starting to get the urge to visit as many places as possible before we go home, and so Grenoble seemed like a nice, small city to just take a day and a half trip to. I didn’t realize that Grenoble is literally thimble sized, so I was kind of disappointed when we first got there BUT it was so beautiful that it didn’t even matter. Wen we arrived and got off the train, all we had to do was look a little to our lefts and there were the snow covered Alps. Definitely something worth seeing.
The picture above is the view that we had from our hotel balcony. No big deal.
Even though there was snow on the mountains, the actual temperature outside was pretty nice! Well, nice for French standards, so probably around the high 40s. But there wasn’t any wind or night chill, so it was great!
As I said before, Grenoble is quite small, so there wasn’t much for us to soother than sightsee. So sightsee we did! They have these small little ball things (check out the pic above for a visual reference) that “fly” up to the top of one of the surrounding hills and up to the Bastille where the soldiers in the Middle Ages would hang out and attack people. It was really cool to see the ruins of what was left, and we also got to go not one of the cave tunnels that they dug out a long time ago. The cave tunnel was used as a secret passage way for the soldiers to escape through if they were being attacked and couldn’t handle it anymore. However, Grenoble didn’t think it was necessary to light the entire PITCH BLACK cave tunnel, so we spent a lot of time taking pictures just so we could use the flash to keep walking without falling down the extremely steep stairs in there. How a lawsuit has not been filed, I have no idea.
Anyway, from up there you can see the entire town (Grenoble is the flattest town in Europe, in case you were wondering) so we could see where the city begins and then where it ends. And of course, you could get a great view of the Alps from up there, which allowed us to take a million pictures with them because it was actually a pretty clear day!
As the person who did the least exercise in the group, I didn’t want to take the 30 minute hike even further up the hill but when the time came, I was the first one up there! Never mind the fact that one of the other people was wearing Uggs and the other was taking time to look around… When we finally got up to the top we reached a memorial for the mountain troops who protected Grenoble with their special skiing and shooting tactics and other cliché things for mountain men. It was pretty cool because we were literally at the top of one of the hills surrounding Grenoble, and we were able to see some of the ruins of their stone forts. They also had a final stand against Hitlers troops from up top of the mountain (with help of the Americans. Of course. USA USA USA!) so they had a little plaque about it and how the mountain troops served Grenoble for a really long time.
We also went to a restaurant called “Une Tarte…” (yes, the ellipses was in the title), where we drank a pitcher of water within three seconds because we are Americans and also because we were thirsty from walking over the entire city so the waiter decided to bring us three more pitches, all at once. So, obviously, this is a challenge we accepted but definitely regretted halfway through the forth pitcher. But, we prevailed and drank every pitcher! And we also got some really great tarts, but the real message here was us being able to drink all the water.
The next day we went to le Musée de Grenoble, where they had about 50 huge rooms of paintings from the 1800s – 2000s, along with a special exhibit for Philippe Cognée, a French painter who did a bunch of ~kewl stuff~. The exhibit for him was huge and my favorite probably had to be “Médina” or “10h au Matin“. Below is a very pretentious picture of me in front of a series of pictures he did that were 3 x 3 inches of random different scenes. Yah, I look cool.
For basically the rest of the way we walked around the museum and saw a bunch of really amazing art work, and we all agreed that we should ditch our respective majors and just become art history majors. Even if we weren’t able to do anything with it after we graduate, at least we would be able to go into any museum and know the history behind it. It was really frustrating to see a huge epic scene in a 40 foot tall painting and be really impressed but have absolutely no idea what’s going on within it!!! I need to befriend someone who can speak English and knows an obscene amount about French art so I can be filled with knowledge.
After the Musée, we went to the Christmas market and ate some typical mountain man food (things such as a super thick soup in a bread bowl, and for the non-vegetarians, some slab of meat or something). Mom, you would have loved it. Just wait for Paris, I’m sure they’ll be 70x more impressive! I also got a few Christmas gifts from there, so ~get excited~. Don’t worry Matthew, I didn’t get you anything there. For those who don’t know, Vin Chaud (hot wine) is a huge deal here, especially in the cold, but I just wanted some apple cider which I THOUGHT France had never heard of. Luckily for me, I found some! Yah! Go Grenoble!
And, for the last thing about Grenoble, there was strangely a little bit of really cool street art there as well. Ever since I’ve been to Prague and Berlin and learned about the street art/graffiti culture, I have been keeping an eye out for street art around Lyon, but I didn’t expect there to be any in are noble BUT I was wrong! We found a cool house with antelopes all over it, and then there were these little sheep coming out from the side of buildings which were super cute! Nicely done, Grenoble.
And with that, we have reached the end of my update for Grenoble. Stay tuned for next weekend’s update about Fête des Lumìeres and then my trip to Lisbon after that (and for whatever happens in between!). Talk to you soon!