23 March 2009

Randonnée à Grenoble

Grenoble, France is a beautiful city on the foot of the most spectacular mountains in Europe. It was host to the '68 Winter Olympics and continues to be a hotspot every year for the Tour de France. I was able to enjoy the view with two of my favorite people in Europe. Jon, Clara, and I trained to Grenoble and spent the day hiking into the mountains. Along the way we devoured a very French picnic (fromage, pain, etc) at the fortification of la Bastille (pictured below). 
conquered this mountain
The crisp mountain air was a refreshing treat after traveling from the polluted cities of Paris and Lyon in the last week. I love that France has PR, sentiers de promenade et de randonnée. These are well-maintained hiking paths all over France, which have easy-to-follow signposts for hikers. We hiked for about 4 hours without a map and without getting lost. There were rock-climbers, runners, and mountain bikers who shared the paths with us. The view continued to get better the higher we got, as the sky cleared to the peaks piercing the clouds. I couldn't tell you which range was which, but the whole panoramic view was spectacular with endless mountains.

Each fort and ruined building we came across had history seeping out of the walls. The Bastille from the middle-ages, a bombed stone building, lookout holes carved out of the mountain, and a WWII memorial spotted the mountain. We explored each site with the enthusiasm of children, climbing around and discovering little details.

I should mention that it was Jon's wonderful idea to go see the mountains last weekend. They are certainly a must-see in Europe and unfortunately the glacial valley of the Isère is melting. It was a treat to see these jagged snow-capped summits during our leisurely hike though time.
We didn't spend much time in the city of Grenoble, other than shopping for veggies at a small market. I must say, though, I wasn't interested in museums and the cuisine, I wanted to see Grenoble from the top, where the view and history was.

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