When I left Grenoble, I made a promise to myself that I’d return to that beautiful city of mine one day. And finally, after a little over two years, that day arrived! On Tuesday afternoon, I took the train from Lausanne to Geneva with the intention of taking another train from Geneva to Grenoble. There was, however, one problem when I arrived at the Geneva train station….
The French are good at many things such as making cheese, implementing good public transportation, and speaking French. One thing that they are also very good at is going on strike. Unfortunately, the train company happened to be practicing their national pastime and, as a result, no trains would be going from Geneva to Grenoble that day. My only hope was that there would be buses going there and, most fortunately, there were! The ride into Grenoble was a wonderfully nostalgic one. It was so pleasing to look out the window and and see the many mountains of the Isère region. When I left Grenoble on July 3, 2011, I chose a particular song to listen to on the bus that, since then, has always been able to take me back to that moment. I got chills of excitement as I played that same song as the bus entered the city.
Lucyl met me at the bus stop, and we walked to her apartment and had a delicious lunch. Afterwards, I got to play tour guide and I took her all around the city showing her all of my favorite places. I was all smiles that afternoon walking along those streets. One of my favorite parts was riding the bubble gondolas up to an ancient military fort, the Bastille, just outside the city. The view of the city up there is incredible and here it is by day:
I was really glad that we walked around the Bastille for a while because never before had I had the opportunity to see Grenoble from afar at night before! Isn’t my city beautiful! After walking around, we rode the bubbles back into the city and had dinner.
Lucyl had her first day of college classes on Wednesday morning. How exciting! It was only a morning class though so I simply waited around the apartment until she was free. Afterwards, we went on another walk through the city and I bought myself “The Old Man and the Sea” or as it’s written on the cover, Le Vieil Homme et la Mer. Something interesting that I found out when I was at the bookstore was that fountain pens are extremely common in France. Not only did they have a huge selection with prices ranging from $2 to $200, but I also learned that at Lucyl’s previous school, it was mandatory to use fountain pens! Oh France, you’re pretty cool sometimes. We went to my favorite coffee shop and then back to the apartment to prepare for a dinner that she was hosting for a good number of her classmates.
It was a really fun dinner, but at the same time really difficult to keep up. When native French speakers are thick in conversation between themselves, there is a lot that I still can’t follow. As I was lost in conversation, I was thinking and was especially grateful for all of the times when native French speakers have conversed with me in French at a level that I could understand. While I may be doing most of the active work in carrying a conversation in French, I know that it also takes work on the part of whomever I am speaking with because they have to be mindful to speak a little slower than usual, use a little less slang, and maybe explain things from time to time. The people at the weekend getaway in France were so wonderful in that regard. It’s also when I’m having these conversations when I learn the most. After dinner, they all went to a meetup where there would be other students. I decided to take some time to myself and went to my favorite square in all of Grenoble and journaled for a little while.
All in all, it was an awesome several days. I got to see one of my favorite places, one of my favorite people, and speak a whole lot of French! I will certainly be going back there again soon. I left very early Thursday morning because I had my first responsibilities and meetings to go to at school. As I was walking to the train station, I took a picture of one of my favorite fountains in Grenoble, which you can see below.
And with that, au revoir fair readers, and I’ll write again soon!