Unlike in the U.S., not every coffee shop in France is a Starbucks-style cafe that offers a convenient study environment for students. Being used to my university town in the U.S., I had developed a habit of staking out in coffee shops to conduct my studying. Once I realized this, I wondered how I could replicate this in my new city, Grenoble. From the outside, it did not seem like there were many of the coffee shops that I was used to back home. There is actually a Starbucks in Grenoble, but it is at the gare (train station) so it is much more conducive to picking up a cappuccino on your way to your train than it is for studying.
Several times, I worked up the courage on a Saturday morning to collect my laptop, schoolwork, and backpack to survey possible study spots, but often times I would sheepishly sit in the corner too nervous to ask for WiFi passwords or even break out my laptop. Thankfully, after some searching and collaboration with friends, I found some perfect spots to sit and study.
Top Places to Study in Grenoble
Avenue Centrale, 38400 Saint-Martin-d'Hères, France
Factory Cafe is a study spot that I discovered by accident. I was early to campus one day, and I noticed it as I stepped off the tram at the University stop. Since it is right on campus, it was the most convenient place to go when I had to be in class all day or just needed a break before I started my route home. Factory Cafe offered the typical on campus cafe environment that I was used to back in the states complete with an array of snacks, lots of coffee, free WiFi, and plenty of outlets.
Au Bonheur Des Thés
35 Avenue Alsace Lorraine, 38000 Grenoble, France
My personal favorite place to study with friends was Au Bonheur Des Thés. Luckily for me, the shop was only one tram stop away from my homestay, so I frequently passed it on my way to classes or when visiting friends downtown. Once a week after our French Theatre class, my friends and I would take the tram to the Alsace Lorraine tram stop and spend our afternoons studying in our favorite corner tucked away upstairs. There is something about the cozy shop that makes it such an ideal place to study. It is a tea shop, so the atmosphere is very relaxing, and there are even plants hanging all around the cafe.
I would say this is a definite place to go on those cold rainy days of the Grenoble winter. My favorite thing to order during those times was the hot matcha boba, which sounds odd, but I promise it was amazing.
Parc de Sculptures
7 Rue Masséna, 38000 Grenoble, France
If you do not view WiFi as a necessity to your studies, and would rather spend your time outdoors, then the Parc de Sculptures offers the perfect environment. One of the greatest attributes of Grenoble is that it offers both a big city environment as well as plenty of outdoor activities. So when the frigid winter ends, there is nothing better than to sit in a park either alone or with friends!
French Coffee Shop
5 Place Championnet, 38000 Grenoble, France
If you are finding yourself missing your local university coffee shop, the French Coffee Shop should be able to fill that void. This was one place that I never felt out of place for staying for hours at a time. Since there were plenty of comfortable seats, free wifi, and an array of coffee options, there were several times when my friends and I spent out entire days here!
Kai iwi Cafe
5 Rue des Clercs, 38000 Grenoble, France
Due to the small space, and popularity of this spot, it was not always my go-to study place. However, food-wise, this was my favorite place to grab brunch with friends. And, since there was WiFi available, I would occasionally bring my laptop along. Since it was a New Zealand-style cafe, they have lots of amazing offerings (specifically so many varieties of TimTams, which are my all-time favorite cookies that you must try).
After living in Grenoble for a little while, I realized that there are endless places to explore. With that said, here are some honorable that did not quite make my top five:
The Top of the Bastille
My friends and I enjoyed hiking to the top for a picnic, but you can always take the bubbles to save yourself a trip.
Au Chardon Bleu
I am not certain what it was, but this bakery held a special spot in the heart of my friends and me. Perhaps it was because there were several locations around the city. For whatever reason, Au Chardon Bleu offered a little piece of home.
Wherever you are attending classes, you most likely will have at least one library on campus. Personally, I regret not utilizing this resource more. At the library you will have access to books, computers, printers, and librarians for help. There are also at least vending machines that serve coffee if you are in desperate need of a pick-me-up.
Overall, since Grenoble is one of the top university cities in France, there are so many great places to study. Finding a regular study spot can also be a way to connect with locals or to get to know your classmates.
Mia Farris is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Grenoble, France, during the Spring 2020 semester. She is currently a student at Samford University.
Mia Farris is the Spring 2020 Alumni Ambassador in Grenoble, France, and is currently studying at Samford University.