Today Claire flew to Mauritius, accompanied (amongst others) by her big new rucksack, and by a friend with a broken rib. Meanwhile, Rebecca, Antonia and I went to Grenoble. Neither so exotic nor so risqué…but very very hot (it felt like we were inside a fan oven in the middle of the afternoon) and thundery. And France-on-a-Sunday-ish. After a wild goose chase to find the tourist office, coffee in a nice café, and a discussion as to how fast the trams went and whether or not a town like Grenoble might have a metro (this was the Parisian point of view…), we went to have a picnic lunch by the museum. After some tasty nibbling, we visited said museum, which was full of fascinating (if poorly explained) art, especially of the C20th variety, and which itself was incredibly well-built with a good layout and excellent natural lighting.
From here, we proceeded a short way back along the Isère as far as the "telephérique": it was at this point that we realised that within the next half hour it would be thundering and chucking it down…so we ascended the hill in our little bubble and had a quick look (and joke) at the 'little' alps we could see around the town (almost all of them higher than snowdon…). We then sheltered in a rather nice café/restaurant for a drink while the rain fell…looked around a rather disappointing astronomical exhibition, and then walked down the hill while the thunder continued to growl menacingly, mid a discussion involving astronauts and priests (!). At the bottom of the hill, after a little looking, we found what we were looking for: the "musée dauphinoise" which is a sociological museum about the area…the first exhibition we looked at (entitled "Les êtres fantastiques") was not particularly spectacular, but the second ("les gens des Alpes") was rather interesting and nicely set out.
Antonia left at this point as she needed to get back to Lyon, while Rebecca and I began our search for somewhere not too crummy, nor too expensive, open and serving food on a Sunday evening. This proved harder than we had initially imagined, but we did in the end find one which served us some nice crêpes.
Our verdict on Grenoble was…nice, but not very special.
Perhaps the most bizarre part of the day came after this though, as on the train home Rebecca was writing some notes ready for a piece she's writing about Lyon (it's to do with a job application, but I won't say more for now…). At this point she was looking for 5 words that sum up Lyon (in English). This was tricky, and so we were thinking out loud about it. The guy who was sitting next to us in the train decided to join in: he lived in Grenoble, but had studied in Lyon so knew it reasonably well. It turned out, during the course of our 1 1/2 hour conversation with him (not *all* about 5 words for Lyon!) that he is a "secouriste en montagne", in other words a mountain rescuer, super-skier, first aider, helicopter dude. We thought for a moment we might be on the way to an invitation to Chamonix…alas, it didn't quite materialise, but it was lots of fun hearing about his job and entertaining him with my crazy theories and rebecca's travel writing. And, as she said afterwards, at least we now know for sure that we'd be in safe hands on the mountains now!