Day 21 — July 21, 1996 (Sunday)
21.07.1996 - 22.07.1996
This morning it was so cold we could see our breath. We slept in sweat suits (with hoods) and bundled into our sleeping bags. Mountains are beautiful but they are also chilly.
Drove into Grenoble to see the old town. The drive was lovely along the Romanche River, but Grenoble on the whole is not a pretty city. We lucked into possibly the most beautiful parking lot in the world — spacious and completely tree covered. It was at a complex of the Hotel du Departement (Regional administration) and the Parc Paul Mistral. It was even free! We'll forgive the industrial suburbs . . . [This parking lot seems to have disappeared under a new and extensive sports complex in the ensuing years.]
We purchased four croissants at the first boulangerie we passed and walked through the city munching them for a late breakfast. We walked into the old town and found the Tourist Office where the young lady spoke perfect English — and was delighted to see us after struggling with a German couple whose French was worse than ours. She gave us info and maps and we set off for the Musée Stendahl and the Musée de Grenoble.
The Musée Stendahl, though small, was interesting in that Marie-Henri Beyle known as Stendhal, didn't particularly care for Grenoble and left, never to return. Nevertheless, the city pays homage to him in this museum. Stendahl Museum web site [The museum we visited has moved and they have enlarged it a bit. You can now find it at 20, Grande-Rue in Grenoble. It's a little hard to find in a busy shopping area but is labeled.]
At the Beaux Arts, we paid our museum fee, visited the very clean “facilities” and began our tour of the museum. The lighting is better than the few parts of the Louvre we managed to visit when we first arrived in France, and the collection is totally different. Grenoble has some golden oldies, but it has a Picasso (not his most outstanding work), Monet, Matisse and many contemporary works. There was a very nice modern section including a huge round sculpture like a globe of giant pins. We enjoyed the museum thoroughly and pretty much had the place to ourselves whereas in the Louvre we often had trouble seeing the paintings through all the people. Fine Arts Museum of Grenoble web site
We wandered back to a café by one of Grenoble’s lovely fountain squares — all pretty devoid of people, not many flowers and lots of graffiti. It could have been charming, but it wasn’t. We walked back to the world’s most beautiful parking place — no easy feat with the crazy streets. Checked our map and headed back to camp. Somehow the return trip seemed much shorter.
We’re planning dinner at the Hotel de Milan tonight in Bourg-d'Oisans. We can watch fish again from the terrace. I may even toss them a bread crumb or two . . .