I came in Grenoble by chance in September 2011. Before coming here, the only thing I knew about it was: Alps; but now I can talk on and on about Grenoble.
Grenoble is located in the south-east of France, about 120km on the south-east of Lyon, and 140km from Geneva or Italy. In 2015, Grenoble-Alpes became one of the 14 French agglomeration that have the title of métropole. Grenoble is one of the only three cities that are located inside the chain of European Alpin. Indeed, Grenoble is imprisoned mainly by three mountain chains: Vercors in the south-west, Chartreuse in the north, and Belledonne in the south-east – like a bottom of a pot. It has the altitude of around 214m above sea level, and is basically a sedimentary basin. With this kind of topography, Grenoble and its surrounding were one of the best defense line during the war period – with lot of built fortress.
Isère and Drac are the two rivers that flow through Grenoble. Around 1900, the development of hydropower (Houille Blanche, literally means white coal) brought the development of the industry in the area. In 1968 Grenoble held the famous Olympic winter game and became well-known.
I would say that Grenoble is a melting point. First due to past migration history (e.g. from Italy, North Africa, Romans, and other – special exhibition on the subject is held inthe Dauphinois museum);the population is quite mixed and the culture is enriched. Second because it is a student city. In 2015, different surveys named Grenoble asthe best or second best student city in France, thus people from around the world come for their study.The odd of finding someone who speaks english is rather higher compare to for example Paris.
The most advanced studies and hence industries in Grenoble are the electronics, micro-electronics, and every related signal processing studies (e.g. earth sciences, biomedicals, nanotechnologies). But it’s also one of the best place to learn french.
Due to its topography, the climates can be harsh, both in winter and summer (up to 40°C in summer and down to 20°C in winter). This is because the temperature is trapped on this pot-like region (Imagine boiling a water in a pot). Thus during harsh condition, the Grenoblois – people who live in Grenoble – tend to stay in the mountains or leave the city.
The Grenoblois are pretty chill and open-minded people. They love having a good time. The tzigane (the term that is used for the travelers) and electric music are the two most popular at this time. But also swing and jazz; everything has their place in Grenoble. Most things in Grenoble are indies, pretty much the best, and we rarely have the kind of big concerts or theaters.
The special dish of the region would be the mountain food – the kind that you eat after spending a day in mountain: melted cheese, good delicatessen, and more melted cheese. But you can easily find restaurants from every corner of the world owned by the people: Italian, Spanish, Greek, Balkan, Libanese, Russian, Thai, Chinese, American, South American, Mexican, you name it.
When I came in 2011, I was a bit shocked on how sportif the Grenoblois are. They bike, run in cold weather, hike, ski, play tennis, swim, any kind of sport – except ping-pong, I couldn’t find anyone to play ping-pong. Now I’m quite used to it, my friends even see me transforming into one.
Some people found Grenoble to be boring. You may find people who talk about mountains or ski up to point that becomes annoying. And people rarely settle down in Grenoble. They come, stay for two or three years then leave. But some people are in love with Grenoble. For us, Grenoble is home, a place to live.
2. Boufette J., Nomade J., Robert, E. 2015 – Promenade géologique à Grenoble. Biotope, Mèze – MNHN, Paris (Collection Balades géologiques), 46 pages.