Sunday, March 6, 2011

March 06, 2011: Grenoble - Market, Mountain

This morning we finally shopped at the market. Before we went I translated our shopping list (what did we ever do before Google Translate?):

- Un poulet rôti
- Oignons
- Carottes
- Ail
- Oeufs
- Fromage
- Une saucisse
- Pommes
- Pommes de terre
- Une bouteille de vin blanc

And I planned how to order quantities: un demi-kilo, trois cents grammes. 

There were more stands at the market today than yesterday - it looks like the smaller, local farmers are there on Sundays. So we headed to one of those stands for our first attempt at market purchasing; I chose one with a friendly-looking older man that resembled my friend Arta's father. At his stand you took a stainless steel bowl and filled it with everything you want, and then he would sort it out and weigh it. When he asked a question that stumped me I explained that I don't speak French well, since I'm Canadian. He cheerily wished us "bon vacances" as we left with our fruits and vegetables.  

The rest of our market shopping went well. Mark remarked that you don't see people smiling at strangers much here, and while in line waiting for cheese I smiled at the man behind the counter - the next thing you know he was directing all his jokes at me - I kept smiling even though I couldn't understand it at all. We got a sausage, a small round of "mi-frais" goat's cheese, and 300 g of comté affiné (a sharper, firm cheese) - all for half the price we would have paid in Canada. At the wine stand we chose a bottle of white wine to go with our roasted chicken and a bottle of juice (made with fruits of Provence); the man there quickly caught on that we're English and switched to speaking it. 

For lunch we had a spinach salad with some of the roasted chicken (tasty) and goat's cheese (deliciously soft and mild). 

Then we walked over to the télépherique, standing in line behind a family whose young son held three baguettes wrapped in paper (how French is that?) ordered two "aller simple" (one-way) tickets, and rode in a six-person clear plastic bubble over the river and up the mountainside to the Bastille. Like yesterday it was beautifully warm (10 degrees Celsius) and sunny, although it was apparent from the Bastille how hazy it was too - the city was partially obscured (under a white mist? fog? definitely doesn't seem to be smog) that made everything very bright - it reminded me of the light in San Francisco.  

We wandered through the complex, which had lots of broken-down ruins, and looked out over the skyline, where there were informative plaques about the history and geography of Grenoble, written in both English and French. Then we wandered further up the mountainside, where many branching paths criss-crossed the meadows and wove through firs and somewhat stunted oak trees. Many people were out lying in the grass, soaking up the sun. We heard a few English-speaking tourists for the first time since we got here. 

After a leisurely walk down the switchbacking paved path, I was hungry. We stopped in at one of the few boulangeries/pattiseries (bakeries are sub-divided into ones that sell more work-a-day items, and those that sell more desert-like pastries) that were open after 5:00 on a Sunday. This seemed to be more of a chain snack place called "Sésame"; I ordered a croque monsieur ( cheese, bechamel sauce and ham sandwich - definitely hit the spot).  

Dinner was roasted chicken and brussels sprouts (an impulse purchase at the market). We finally turned on the tv, and found that all the stations seem to be in French (no surprise) but that a few were showing movies I've seen before in English. If I can find a closed captioning option for some French subtitles I might be able to follow along.

Sitting in the télépherique

Our shadow cast on rooftops...

...and on the river

The city below us

A natural green roof on the Bastille buildings?

Mark in the archway

A fortification even higher up on the mountainside

Mark makes an inukshuk

Once-horizontal sedimentary rock twisted about during mountain formation

Going down the final staircase (380 steps)

Lion fountain at the entrance to the Bastille

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