Friday, March 25, 2011

March 25, 2011: Grenoble - Doors of Grenoble, Royal Dining, French Parking

This morning I went on an architectural tour organized by Sweet Home Grenoble. The theme was "Doors of Grenoble", although it really covered the gamut of architectural features and history of an assortment of Grenoble's buildings. Because the organization's focus is to equally promote both French and English, our tour guide would first recount her information in French, and then it was translated into English (providing good practice for French comprehension - I think I picked up on at least 35% of what was said). More details with the photos below, but overall the tour was great: a wide range of buildings, from ancient to contemporary, and we went into some spaces (particularly interior courtyards) that I never would have been bold enough to venture into on my own.

For dinner we went out for Indian food, which I'd been craving awhile. We ate at Royal Tandoori; they had a nice pakora and samosa assortment on lightly dressed greens, but the main dishes had no heat - we were a bit disappointed. However, unlike our other restaurant experiences thus far our waiter spoke English readily, asked where we were from and was curious about life in Toronto. I was happy to relate that that are lots of Indian people there, particularly in the area of town where we live - he seemed surprised but pleased. We did not, however, tell him that we'd found his food lacking in spice.

On the way home I took photographs of some of the more cleverly parked cars. Parking is at a premium here in the old city center, and cars are wedged in every which way - I can only imagine that the parking laws are more lax than in Toronto. Tonight we saw a series of cars parked end to end and nose to nose, and then another series that were parked perpendicularly from the street onto the sidewalk. Crazy, yet it was all done in a very systematic, logical fashion.

Our tour started here, in front of the Cathedral. We learned that in the early 1900s an elaborate cathedral facade was added in "gray gold" - concrete! Grenoble was famous for its concrete industry, but decades later the facade was falling apart and was entirely removed during restoration. The cathedral does look oddly plain, and the photograph we saw of the facade was attractive - gray gold might not have been so bad after all.

While listening to the history of this stone and concrete building, I realized that the tree in front of me was wearing a "scarf". Which someone must have carefully sewed i place - you can't pull it on over either end of the tree!

A beautiful Juliet-style balcony juts out into this narrow city street: La Tourelle de l'Hotel Rabot; 16th century (hotel doesn't mean what it does in English - it was the private home of a well-to-do family).

Crazy doorknocker on the Hotel Coupier de Maille; 17th century.

Window of many-paned glass at the Parliament building.

Which of these windows are not like the others? "Trompe l'oeil" didn't need to be translated into English - we use the same expression.

A door with a fast-moving French woman in front

Headquarters of the publishing company Glenat; housed in a former convent, with fantastic red cross-themed contemporary doors

One of several stained glass windows into Glenat - look closely and you'll see a family of book-headed cartoon characters - the windows tell the story of publishing books

A brilliant blue door, with a characteristic window above (for letting in air and light in the days before plentiful windows) 

Looking up from this courtyard was looking at a framed picture of the sky 

Cars parked perpendicularly from the street onto the sidewalk

Cars parked end to end and nose to nose

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