In a nutshell, Grenoble is a young and international small city surrounded by the French Alps.There are a few things you should prepare for in order to make the most of everything the city and its region have to offer.
Adapting to life in Grenoble
While most people in your lab should be able to speak English, people you’ll meet in shops or in the administration may not. Your colleagues who can speak English will appreciate if you try learning a few French words such as « bonjour », « ça va », and « merci », so purchasing a French phrasebook before you come may be a good idea.
Keep in mind that depending on where you come from, you may need to adapt to the climate and environment as much as to the culture and language. The climate in Grenoble is “alpine / temperate”. It means there are four distinct seasons with temperatures as low as -15°C in winter and as high as +38°C in summer (dry), although it is not always this extreme and we equally enjoy outdoor sports and cafés. So check in advance what the weather will be like during your stay and pack accordingly.
You should comme prepared to experience some cultural misunderstandings in Grenoble, and differences in the way of working. People will understand if you make cultural blunders, so keep an open mind and a sense of humour, it goes a long way to solve misunderstandings.
What to do in Grenoble?
Grenoble is a sports city, and you can feel it in the way people use bicycles, spend their weekends or lunch breaks, and even in the local dress code.
In winter, check out the ski resorts around Grenoble. In summer, your team may invite you for a hike in the weekend. If you like water sports, do not forget the lakes in Savoy and the local swimming pools. The GIANT Ekiden (team marathon) takes place in autumn; ask around your lab if a team needs a member.
If you are more into culture than sports, then don’t worry: Grenoble has its share of museums, and the region hosts many dance, theatre, arts and music festivals. There are also plenty of affordable restaurants for you to try the local cuisine in the city centre.
Grenoble is the main city of the French Alps, and it is located in the heart of the Rhône-Alpes region that has common borders with Switzerland and Italy. It is the second region in France for the economy, and it offers plenty of amazing landscapes and historical cities for weekend trips.
You can use extensive regional railway network to visit Lyon, the UNESCO-listed and second largest French city, Annecy and Chambéry in Savoy, former home to the kings of Italy, and Geneva. These three cities are very close to the most beautiful French lakes. Further South, Ardèche and Drôme are beautiful places, with climates and landscapes transitioning to these of Provence. In the North, Ain will give you an overview of another range of mountains, Jura, while Saint-Etienne in the East is the place to go to if you are interested in design. Further East in the newly joined region of Auvergne, you can explore (now sleeping) volcanoes. Wherever you are, you will find local cheese, wine and delicacies.
Other cities in France and Italy or Switzerland are accessible by train, and budget airlines fly from Lyon airport to major European cities.