Now I’m back in the UK, I thought I’d do a quick write up off things I wish I’d known upon arrival in Grenoble, just in case anyone else finds it useful. So here goes:
- France is rubbish on Sundays. The only places that open properly are bakeries and florists. Supermarkets and shopping centres generally don’t open. But there are a handful of smaller supermarkets which are exceptions to this rule – Simply Market (one on Boulevard Maréchal Foch near where it crosses the train tracks, one on Avenue Jean Perrot up by Malherbe) and Monoprix (in town by Hubert Duberdout tram stop) open in the mornings, with the last shoppers allowed in at about 11.30.
- Get a bike, because Grenoble is great for cycling. But if you’re only going to be there for a year, don’t bother buying one. Instead, rent a bike from Metrovelo who do a 100€/year contract where they repair the bike too. If you’re a student, it’s only 85€. My 2ndhand one cost me 89€ and it was great, but I also had to buy lock, pump, replacement pedals, new saddle, basic tools etc. which took the total cost to well over a hundred.
- Markets are by far the best place to buy veggies. There’s a big one in town under the train tracks pretty much every day (including Sundays).
- For exotic or out of season vegetables, either go to one of the international supermarkets or to Carrefour at Grand’Place. But be warned, Grand’Place is hell on earth on a Saturday.
- If you like fancy beer, go to Les Frères Berthom at 1 Rue St Hughes. If you like pints of Guinness and sport on the telly, go to O’Callaghan’s on the south bank of the Isère. If you like pints of Guinness and good atmosphere, go to The Druids. If you like loud and soulless student bars, go to The London Pub or Couche-Tard.
- There’s a Brocante (flea market/junk sale) on Sunday mornings out by the Porte de France (in the Intermarché carpark by Boulevard de l’Esplanade). And there’s an Ikea out towards Gières. The Brocante really does sell some junk, but I wish I’d found it before I found the Ikea.
- The Bookworm Cafe has english-language 2ndhand books, and also sells tea. I think they might even have free wifi.