Grenoble, France Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Grenoble, France

Grenoble, France 08/28/06

Background:

1. How long have you lived here?

8 months.

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2. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Lyon to Philadelphia : ~7 hours.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Expatriate - employed by French company.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

HOUSING: Apartments in the city, houses outside the city. I have a 38m² furnished apartment in a very child-friendly district for 510 euros/month. Expect to pay about 15 euros per m². Housing for some reason goes fast here, so if you find an apartment you like, take it immediately. I found an apartment my first day of searching, told my agent the next morning but it was already gone. I found the apartment that I live in now because it is 'ancien' older style and most people seem to like the bright & cheery modern types. Try to get furnished or you will be in the shock of your life - non-furnished means just that - no washer, no stove, no oven, no refrigerator, nothing. You will have to buy and install it all yourself (not practical for a single woman living on the 2nd floor like me!) TRANSPORTATION : I take public transportation (bus, tram, train) so my commute time is peaceful and quick.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are cheaper here I think. I totally appreciate that there are 50 kinds of chocolate cereal here. Variety and choice is awesome. Carrefour (chain of supermarkets) is best bet for bargains on all products.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Peanut butter, though they say it is here, I can never find it (NUTELLA is NOT the same thing). DORITOS, FRITOS. Anything junkfoody. Packaging here is smaller and being American I am used to big bags.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Quick - the French answer to McDonald, although you will find a McDonald's right around the corner.

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Daily Life:

1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Easy to use, ATMs everywhere.

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3. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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4. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Must get cable - I have standard 12 channels - ALL are in French. (I speak French, so no problem.)

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get by on basic French, though if you know conversational French you will get a warmer reception. Most people here know English, but will open up more if you try to speak French.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

None really, all public transportation systems are facilitated for this.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right side.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, public transportation is great here - they should make me the poster person for SemiTag and SNCF. Very affordable, especially if your employer pays for it.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

No car, I take public transportation. But if I did have a car, I would buy a junker because people bump alot here when they are parking.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Free if you have a job and use it at work.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get a French cell phone. Otherwise your phone bill will eat you alive.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Phone card, though I have a Bouygues service & I just try to call only when necessary.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

The French LOVE their dogs more themselves.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes, if you speak English or French. But you know the EU thing keeps a lot of us out, so best bet is to get sponsored through a European company.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dress up, French people dress very nicely at all times, I have had to buy a whole new wardrobe, but it feels better to dress better. I like looking at how well-dressed everyone is. Great sense of fashion here most times.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate - though I think it is worse because we are living in a valley surrounded by mountains and too many people are driving when they should be taking advantage of their VERY affordable, VERY well-managed, and VERY comfortable bus, tram, and train system (public transportation).

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

I have never had any problems personally. I walk around during the night alone. Definitely much safer than in the USA. There tends to be a moderate number of beggars/gypsies here, but they are more annoying than harmful.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

If you have green card 'carte vitale' you are in good hands. The medical system is great here.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Short summer, refreshing fall, not too bad for winter.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Grenoble is a college/industrial city - lots of students and lots of business people - thus, lots of international community going on here.

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2. Morale among expats:

Seems to be good, my company organizes monthly dinners with the expats.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Pubs and discotheques are popular. Most are in center of town - easily accessed by tram, bus.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good city for families and couples as everyone here seems to be in one. I appreciate that about the French, they seem to be very physically affectionate in public.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I do not know any gay people personally here (though when I first got here I thought all French men were gay, LOL), but it seems pretty friendly to all people, very tolerant. I mean c'mon where else can 70 year old women have blue hair?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I am aware of....though as an American sometimes the French will get you down because they are always harping on and on about the war-loving government of the USA, in those times I just remind them that they are wearing jeans, t-shirts and listening to music produced in my country, that little bit of patriotism seems to put everyone in their place.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Learn French, travel the public transportation system (I am from Philadelphia where you will most likely be shot if you use public transportation), so it is great to be able to kick back and let someone else drive! The music scene here is great. Go see the Bastille on the mountain - great view of Grenoble from there. Nightlife is best in center of town. Try London Pub, Barbarossa.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Travel.

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9. Can you save money?

Sure, if you do not spend it all on travel to other countries.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Sure.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Baggy clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bicycle, running shoes, ski stuff.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Grenoble is pretty decent.

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