Saturday, 1 December 2012

les anglais sont arrives

Grenoble train station.  We've got the bikes onto the platform and loaded up, only to discover that there are stairs to the exit.  But hey, we're in a civilised country and there's a small lift.  While we wait for it to come a member of staff calls out to us.  She is telling us to use the ramp on the side of the stairs instead of taking the lift.  We ignore her and Gayle gets her bike inside and descends.  The woman shouts at me again, pointing at the stairs.  I point at my heavily loaded bike and give my best Gallic shrug.  The lift can't return soon enough.  She strides up to me and gives me an earful.  I smile and shrug gormlessly.  She asks me if I understand French. Non. Are you English? Oui.  She tuts, rolls her eyes and walks away defeated.  I take the lift.  In the station foyer Gayle goes to use the toilet.  When she come out there's a man waiting for her demanding payment for the use thereof.  Gayle replies in English that she has no money. The man gets angry, in French.  Gayle gets angry, in English and strides off.  Attention Grenoble, les bloody anglais are here.
John displaying his francophile tendencies
We are staying with Albane and Benoit and their son Yourn.  We are undoubtedly going against the spirit of Warm Showers by only cycling from the station to their appartment, but they understand in this weather.  We turn out to be their first guests and more bizarrely we have already met - in China in 2010.  Gayle realised this after they had agreed to host us.  They had done a long cycle tour in 2010 and Gayle remembered an evening in Chengdu when we were taken out for a meal by Sim, the owner of Sim's Cosy Garden Guesthouse, along with about seven other cyclists all staying at the guesthouse.  Benoit and Albane were there that evening with Albane's brother.  So it is very nice to meet them again and meet their new son.
a subtle comment on the position of immigrants in French society or just another silly name for a kebab shop?

We come across the city Museum of the Resistance.  This part of the country was governed by the Vichy state during the war and many locals formed small unconnected groups determined to resist.  When Italy surrendered the German army arrived in the region and cracked down hard on the groups.  The museum is an interesting account of these times.  At the very end of the exhibition is a plea not to let extremists take over again and a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
"to pray when we like if we are religious. to write how we like if we are poets."

St.Bruno's square
Albane takes us to some of the markets in the city - there's the farmer's market with stalls full of local produce (cheese, vegetables, meats, bread and more cheese) and then the allsorts market in St Bruno's with cheap clothes, shoes, cookware, jewellery, perfume, etc.  Gayle eyes a cast-iron casserole.  But will it fit in the pannier? Worried about the cold weather, I buy a Nepalese chullu.  We do some 'bike shopping' and Gayle finally replaces her lost helmet and we get some leggings (tights?) for cold weather cycling.  These turn out to be inspired purchases......... 

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