Grenoble may be a random destination for a travel bucket-list, but it’s been at the top of mine since January because one of my best friends is spending the second semester of her year abroad in the city.
Getting there meant flying from Frankfurt to Lyon then catching a Ouibus (France’s slightly fancier but pricier answer to the Flixbus) to Grenoble.
My journey to France was perfect. For once I got a seat on the train to the airport so could enjoy my Le Crobag chocolate muffin in peace, Frankfurt airport security was even quicker than usual, and the flight was so nice. I was lucky enough to have a window seat and there were some amazing views of the alps as we flew over Switzerland.
Once I got to Lyon I was greeted by the usual friendly mayhem of France when nobody seemed to know if they were at the right bus station, if we were even at a bus station, and if a bus to Grenoble even existed. The first person I met was a man from Blackburn who looked terrified when I asked directions in French and also had no idea what was going on. Typique.
However, I manged to get a bus eventually, with the help of about five friendly Frenchies, and then Sophie met me at the station in Grenoble, bringing my dazed confusion to an end. Cue excited reunion squeals.
With massive windows overlooking Grenoble’s snowy alps, Sophie’s flat is stunning and probably the nicest accommodation I’ve ever seen a student live in; it was so lovely to spend the weekend there. We spent our first afternoon together sat on Sophie’s bed chatting in person for the first time since June, we had so many year abroad stories to catch up on.
For Friday we had booked a day trip to Annecy, a city two hours away from Grenoble which is known as the “Venice of the Alps” due to its resemblance to the famous Italian city which I adore.
It’s different from every other French city I’ve visited. Some of its houses had a Germanic touch and a lot of it seemed Swiss, which makes sense given its proximity to Geneva. It was all so beautiful, as soon as we stepped off the bus, everything was pretty and cute.
Amazingly for France, there was even a vegan restaurant. Named Granny Smith, it was a cute little place which felt very clean and very green. It has a different menu every day, from which you can choose two items for a set price. It was a tad pricey but worth every cent. I had a vegan quiche with rice and Sophie had the same quiche with soup. I haven’t had anything like it in years, it was so delicious and felt really healthy. They also sold vegan cookies and cakes which looked amazing. Finding a vegan restaurant in France is like finding gold dust and this particular gold dust restaurant is one of my favourite ever.
Wandering through Le vieil Annecy (Old Annecy) really did feel like wandering through Venice’s winding streets. It’s one of the prettiest parts of France I’ve ever seen.
However, the best part was definitely the lake. Le lac d’Annecy is vast and backdropped by beautiful mountains. The water is the clearest water I’ve ever seen in real life, it was mesmerising. It’s more like a screensaver than reality.
On Saturday Sophie showed me around Grenoble. It’s such a typically French city, with pretty buildings, all the essential French high street shops like Promod and Yves Rocher, and a really good tram system. We also made numerous trips to the Carrefour near Sophie’s flat during my stay. Shopping in Carrefour always reminds me of family holidays in France and will never stop being an exciting excursion.
However, my favourite part of our day in Grenoble was our trip to the Bastille. Grenoble has an impressive Bastille and for 6€ you can go up to the top in a cable car and get an amazing view of the city. It was my first time ever in a cable car which was exciting enough, but to make it even better Sophie and I ended up with a carriage to ourselves. The ride was so fun and the views from the Bastille were brilliant, especially as we were there at the right time to see the sunset.
It was a lovely end to the loveliest time in Grenoble. The weekend went so quickly, and I left with a heavy heart on Sunday morning. I miss Sophie and France and Carrefour falafel babies already.