October 13, 2013

Exploring Grenoble

After our first few days in this area of France - skiing, visiting Lyon, and more - we spent some time exploring our host's home town - Grenoble. Wandering around this small city is a delight! We began our day checking out the shops and architecture around the center of the city. The tight, narrow streets give the picture of a quintessential old European city. Old churches and houses still stand guard around small squares and the map is a labyrinth to explore.

We stopped at a small cafe for lunch - salads with mustard vinaigrette and bread - before going to my most anticipated stop of the day, a chocolaterie. Le Buchard is an adorable boutique chocolate shop and tea salon. With the brisk, winter chill outside, it was a perfect day for hot chocolate. We sat down in the salon and placed our order (classic hot chocolate for me and coffee for Jonathan). When our beverages arrived, they were presented like works of art - and they were delicious! My chocolate was rich and creamy with the perfect balance of chocolate flavor and sweetness. Before leaving, I went to the shop and purchased several bars and confectioneries to bring back home with me.

On a hill overlooking the city of Grenoble is an old fort, called the Bastille, that is now a park and a cafe. In the later part of the afternoon, we took the gondolas at the base of the hill to this park. The gondolas, referred to by our host as the "eggs", bring you on a short ride up the hill. As we rose in elevation, the city street view was replaced by the setting sun and mountains around us. From the Bastille, you can see the mountains that encircle this city. While we were up there, the snow covered peaks were painted intense oranges and pinks by the sun.

The view from the Bastille at sunset.
After it became dark, we met our host back home and headed out to enjoy our last evening in Grenoble. First, we went to a local wine bar, Le vin au verte, for a drink before dinner. Here, the proprietor serves local, organic wines (or biodynamic, as they refer to them in France) with cheeses and charcuterie. He recommended a wine from about 20 kilometers from this city. We relaxed and chatted alongside the other local patrons. The atmosphere was cozy and welcoming - it was the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine and the company of friends.

For dinner, we went to one of my friend's favorite restaurants - Café Louis. To begin, we had a squid and salad appetizer. The seafood was perfectly cooked and the salad - like most salads in France - was tossed in a simple, but delicious vinaigrette. Next up, we shared a creamy green vegetable soup. Simple and delicate, a perfect soup for a winter evening. For the entree, we had grilled fish over vegetables seasoned with herbs de provence. The meal perfectly represented what I enjoy about French cuisine.

Grenoble is a city that I look forward to visiting again. Not only is it home to friends, but it is also a welcoming place where the beauty of French cuisine and culture is enjoyable, not distant or overwhelming.

1 comment:

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