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Discovering Grenoble While Studying Abroad in France

July 02, 2024
by Payton Arbuthnot
Two study abroad students smiling at the camera and holding baguettes

Discovering More Than I Set Out to Find During a Semester Abroad in Grenoble  

Fresh off the plane from Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airport, my jet-lagged mind was prepared for wintry weather and stunning mountain views. At the end of my first month onsite, I realized that behind the breathtaking landscapes, the city of Grenoble holds a wealth of history.  

A view from high above of a city and mountains in the distance

A rewarding bird’s-eye view of Grenoble after hiking to the top of the Bastille with my classmates at Sciences Po to learn about the old military fort. 

The CEA CAPA staff in Grenoble made the city come alive for me. They intentionally shared bits of knowledge and interesting tips about Grenoble, allowing me to look beyond the mountains and see my study abroad location as a city rich in history and culture.  

A fountain with a large lion head at the top looking down at the viewer

While learning about present-day Grenoble on a city tour, our CEA CAPA Grenoble staff pointed out the Fontaine du Serpent et du Lion, a symbolic fountain representing Grenoble’s resilience against the flood-prone rivers Isère and Drac. 

A body of water with mountains in the distance and colorful buildings to the right

We are crossing the Isère River on our way to learn about the history of the Dauphiné province at Le Musée dauphinois. 

When choosing a study abroad destination, Grenoble seemed like the perfect fit. Primarily, it is in France where I can sharpen my French speaking skills, which I have been doing successfully! 

Two study abroad students smiling at the camera and holding baguettes

My roommate and I tested our French language skills to order our first French baguettes! 

A pastry sitting on a plate next to a mug of liquid

I am treating myself to my first French tarte, which I ordered in French! A rewarding prize after practicing my French speaking skills in real-time. 

Secondly, as a native Coloradan, I felt that the mountains blanketing Grenoble’s borders would bring a sense of familiarity to my time away from home. The breathtaking views of the Vercors, Chartreuse, and Belledonne ranges are indeed one of the best aspects of my time in Grenoble.  

A line of bicycles in the foreground with a building and mountains in the background

I catch a view of the Vercors mountains and the strong bicycle culture in Grenoble as I walk to my residence during CEA CAPA integration week! 

However, I did not anticipate the pleasure of also gaining a wealth of knowledge about the history of my study abroad destination. 

Two people walking on a path toward the camera

While taking advantage of the lovely weather in Verdun Park, I ran into this lovely French couple as they enjoyed a routine Saturday stroll. 

Thanks to the CEA CAPA Grenoble staff, an international student organization at the Université Grenoble Alpes, and my curious study abroad friends, I have learned much about Grenoble in three short weeks. 

A study abroad student standing near a tram stop and smiling at the camera

My friend and I are taking the tram home after our first day of classes at Sciences Po! 

A table at a market full of jars of honey

After class, I perused different kinds of local honey at the Thursday evening market near my residence. 

Setting out to study abroad, I knew I would find the scenery, the food, the new friends, and the new experiences exciting. After spending almost a month in Grenoble, France, learning about the history and culture here has been just as rewarding!  

A group of study abroad students sitting at a table and holding packaged food toward the camera

Out with friends on a Friday night to experience the hype about the recent rise of French tacos!




Payton Arbuthnot is the Content Creator - Photographer in Grenoble, France, and is currently studying at Cedarville University.
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