I remember looking out of the window of my sister’s bedroom in Grenoble, wondering if the scene outside had gone through a vintage wash before presenting itself to me. I saw snow lined mountains, faded yellow homes and an old banged up Volkswagen mini-van. Ordinarily beautiful, but for someone flying in from a tropical busy city like Singapore, it felt cold and desolate.
Grenoble, located in the Rhône-Alpes region, stands at the foot of the French Alps and is commonly known as the Capital of the Alps. The city’s history goes back more than 2,000 years, at a time when it was a small Gallic village founded by the Allobroges tribe near a bridge across the Isère River. Grenoble is tiny; one could walk the length and breadth of the city multiple times a day. I know because I’ve done it. Call it boredom or the fact that your feet might be faster than the tram system they have running through the city.
Besides my initial trepidation, I strangely enjoyed my time in Grenoble. There is something comforting about a small town, the warmth of the familiar cuts through the chilly winter days and as for the nights, well, we had chartreuse!
My sister was doing an Art Curatorial course at the Le Magasin in Grenoble and I decided to visit in December just before Christmas. We did however manage to escape the cold, albeit briefly, through a weekend spent in cosy Lisbon. [Read about Lisbon here]
Apart from walking to the town centre aptly named Victor Hugo everyday, I caught up on my reading mostly at random coffee shops and watched two movies – The Hobbit and Anna Karenina. I indulged an old lady on her way back from the dentist one day, visibly unhappy with the consultation. Why, I would not know, she spoke no English and I could only manage to understand a word or two of the French she spoke, but chat did we, through the long tram ride.
With the exception of ducking in when it rained or snowed, I tried to spend as much time outdoors as possible, the city’s historic architecture set against the mighty Alps was picture perfect. See for yourself:
Noteworthy mentions from my time there:
Our regular watering hole (constantly referred to as salamander) – La Boîte à Sardines, 1 Place Claveyson, +33 4 76 44 27 84
And sometimes – La Bobine, 42 Boulevard Clemenceau, +33 4 76 70 37 58
Grrrreat fondue, we kept going back to – La Fondue, 5 Rue Brocherie, +33 4 76 15 20 72 [reservation recommended]
The family run mussels joint near Victor Hugo, unfortunately I don’t remember the name.