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Navigating Grenoble

Going from never using public transportation to only using it seemed like it could be a bit of a headache. Luckily, Grenoble is an extremely easy city to navigate and I’m able to orient myself fairly well here. Not only are there four main tramlines (with a fifth in construction), but also there are multiple bus lines.

  My primary mode of transportation here are the trams. The first few weeks in the city I would get annoyed with all the waiting required when using the trams in a slower period of the day. During rush hours and lunchtime, trams come every 3-5 minutes. During slower times and at night you can wait 20 minutes or longer to take a tram! After becoming more comfortable with the city, I decided to try walking. And that’s when I really fell in love with Grenoble.

  The city of Grenoble itself is not very large. The actual city of Grenoble (not counting the various smaller towns that act more like neighborhoods) covers less than 10 square miles. On average, it is a less than 5-minute walk from one tram stop to another. When I first tried walking I would just follow the tramlines so I didn’t get lost. While this was faster than waiting on a tram, it still took me 30-40 minutes to get anywhere. The shortest path between 2 points is a straight line, so instead of going out of my way to follow tram lines I tried setting out on my own through the city.

Grenoble is framed on 3 sides by mountain ranges- the Chartreuse, Vercors, and Belledonne mountains. To the north is the Chartreuse, with the Bastille at the top making it easily recognizable. At anytime of day (or night) you can easily find which way is north by finding the Bastille. From there all you have to do is find landmarks! For example, when walking home from centre-ville all I have to do is point myself to the southwest, and walk until I hit a tramline. From there I can just follow the tracks home!

Learning my way around the city at first was intimidating, but after only a few weeks I am comfortable here, and I can take the time to enjoy the sights as I make my way to the destination. After all, I’m a firm believer in trying to “focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” (Greg Anderson)

Aimee Goffinet is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO for Grenoble, France. She is currently a junior at the University of Kentucky.

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