Lucy Browett is studying Law with Politics LLB at the University of Sussex, and is currently finishing her year abroad in Grenoble, France, where she's studying for a Certificate in French Law in English. Inspired by our article on using your blog to reflect on your year abroad, Lucy has written a list of her all-time favourite recommendations in Grenoble.
1. Home is...?
Residence Berlioz, a university CROUS residence on campus. I don’t have an oven or a microwave and have to share a kitchen with about 30 others, but hey, I have my own bathroom! It’s very sociable and there’s always something going on - plus it’s cheap.
2. Building you'd like to buy?
The entirety of the old town in Grenoble is stunning, but for me it would have to be the Fort de la Bastille, purely for the view of the city with the snow-topped Alps in the background. There’s a pretty good restaurant up there too.
3. Best meal?
Anything on the menu at La Ferme à Dédé, a restaurant specialising in regional food such as fondues, tartiflette and basically anything consisting of local cheese and potatoes. Cultural and delicious.
4. Best value for money meal?
This accolade would have to go to the taco. Not the Mexican dish, mind. The French taco is a thing of beauty and beats any kebab I’ve ever had in the UK. It’s composed of a tortilla wrap filled with fries, white sauce, any meat and any additional sauce of your choosing (my preference being Algerian sauce). While it’s not fine cuisine, it’s a cheap, filling meal and is perfect both at lunchtime and after you’ve had a little too much wine at 1am. Head to the area around the Notre Dame Cathedral for a plethora of taco outlets.
5. Favourite place to shop?
Grand Place is the city’s big shopping centre, located in the south of the city and is the first place I’ll go if I need anything. It houses all the essentials: Sephora, Mango, New Look and H&M to name a few and a few too many euros have been spent there during my time in Grenoble.
6. First thing you do when you arrive?
If it’s a nice day when you first get here, I would recommend strolling by the river to take in the view. The mountains in the background, with the “bubbles” taking people up to the Bastille in the foreground. It’s the first thing I did when I arrived way back when in September and it was the best start to my year.
7. Best drinking spot?
Grenoble has plenty of great bars for international students, notably London Pub and La Bukana. However, I have to give this to Tord Boyaux, where I feel like I must have spent most of my evenings. The bar offers many flavours of wine, incredible themed nights and a great mix of French and English music. 10/10, would recommend.
8. Best first date location?
If you want to be casual about things, there are plenty of great coffee places in Grenoble. My place of choice is Coffee and Go; they do amazing drinks, including crazy flavoured coffees topped with cream and Oreos. Plus, if the date’s not going so well, it’s only round the corner from the Notre Dame tram stop if a quick escape is needed.
Earliest Grenoble memory?
After lugging my suitcases across town to my campus residence, I noticed a Facebook post inviting people from my building to come to the centre of the residence for drinks. Because I didn’t know a single person in Grenoble by this point, I took a deep breath and went down, meeting some great people in the process, some of which I still see around today. Taking the plunge and making new friends in a new city can be hard, but as I kept forcing myself to go to more events, my network grew.
10. Favourite discovery?
Halfway up the Bastille is an abandoned university building and I had no idea what to expect when I was first invited to a party up there. When I got there I found amazing graffiti, tea lights everywhere and a stellar view without having to go all the way up to the Bastille. It’s well worth a trek up there in the day too.
11. Best cultural spot?
The Musée Dauphinois, en route to the Bastille, is one of many museums in Grenoble and gives a great insight into the history of the region, both recent and ancient. Highlights for me are an exhibition on the history of skiing and the attached chapel.
12. Favourite club?
Clubbing in Grenoble often involves buy a ticket beforehand for €10, hopping on a shuttle bus after some campus pre-drinks and being whisked off to the middle of nowhere where there is inexplicably a club. However, my favourite is Vieux Manoir, situated across the river and comprising of many different rooms, some of which I reckon I am yet to discover. Entry is free and it’s open all night, so is perfect for killing some time before the first tram comes to take you back to campus.
13. Best place to end a night out?
This would have to go to Tacos de Lyon, open until 1am and perfect for that post-London-Pub taco.
14. What would you do if you were Mayor for a day?
Make the trams run 24/7. Unfortunately, the last tram from town to campus is at 1.47am, meaning nights out are either cut here or have to be extended to 5.30am for the first tram. This is, of course, unless you want to do the walk back to campus, which is doable but we’re always reluctant. By running merely one tram an hour during this time, students will be able to get home safely back to campus.
15. Building you'd like to be locked in overnight?
The Musée de Grenoble. I’d have plenty to do, wandering around and admiring the art.
16. Best time of year to visit?
Grenoble is really a city for all seasons of the year. The ski season begins in December, when it finishes in April the weather will be sunny, when it gets chillier in November it will be almost time for skiing again.
17. Thing you'd miss the most if you left?
The friends I’ve made here have really made my experience in Grenoble, so I’d miss the simple pleasure of going for a coffee in town, inevitably to Coffee and Go.
18. Most overhyped tourist trap?
As far as I’ve looked, Grenoble doesn’t seem to have any of those, probably because it’s not a very touristy city. The big tourist attraction is, of course, the Bastille, with its spectacular view of the city and the mountains. I suppose I’d have to say that the “bubble” cable cars up to the top are probably a bit of a tourist trap, as the walk up is lovely and isn’t too strenuous – it’s under €6 for a return but you’re better off walking!
19. Best way to get from A to B?
If you live centrally or on campus and don’t fancy cycling, the tram system is the way to go. For just €20 a month, you have a card which gives you unlimited travel on the trams, which are frequent and will take you to most of the places you’ll want to go to in Grenoble. The pass can also be used on the extensive bus network, if you want to reach the outskirts.
20. Best view?
Without risking sounding like a broken record, the view from the top of the Bastille is incredible.
21. Who's your local hero?
The namesake of my residence, Hector Berlioz. Born near Grenoble, he was one of the great Romantic composers, and you should give Symphonie Fantastique a listen if you haven’t already:
22. What's next on your list?
Soaking up the sun before I leave, in the form of trips to the Ardèche, Rome and Naples, as well as seeing as much of Grenoble as I can before I sadly have to leave in June.