Victoria Jelinek

September 27, 2010, 8:59 am
Filed under: Travel pieces | Tags: , , , ,

A gorgeous autumn day – 20c, 70f – a drive in a southeasterly direction through green fields, grand mountains, classical French farmhouses with red roofs, concrete walks, flat-fronts and long shutter windows. As we get nearer to Grenoble, the “Capital of the Alps,” there are the intermittent Roman ruins one can see in the hills and scattered across the countryside.

The city, itself, is lovely – reminiscent of Paris, Madrid, or any continental city with its winding cobblestone streets that seem like a labyrinth. Friendlier though, and artistic in ‘vibe.’ Less dirty. Large, pedestrians-only areas full of small shops selling everything from stationary to hardware to accessories. Too many shoe stores and tobacco sellers to count. Many little coffee shops and restaurants with lots of outdoor seating.  Peppered steak and frites at a bistro that promptly closes at 2pm. Bars with people standing out front smoking and having small beers. Hidden little squares and parks with fountains. A river runs down one side of the city. Flat-fronted buildings with small turrets and gardens atop them, small terraces and long, shuttered windows on the river. Above are gondolas going into the Alps that border the city and that look like little balls (and are, in fact, called balls in French). A Roman castle sits overlooking the center of town, evidence of  the passing of time.