As editor of Grenoble Life, an English language website for expats in Grenoble and the surrounding area, James Dalrymple gives his rough guide to the local expat clubs, Anglophone businesses and services.
It is claimed that Grenoble has one of the biggest Anglophone communities of any French city but coming to live in France doesn’t mean you should only spend time with French people. Among the expat groups and associations is all manner of pan-European activity.
Most new English-speaking Grenoble residents, particularly families, are likely to encounter Open House, the city’s long-established and possibly largest expat association. Among the activities it organizes are children’s parties, excursions, wine tastings, lunches, outdoor activities, book groups, coffee meetings and French-English language exchange.
The more student-orientated Happy People 38 organizes intercultural social events and language exchanges. Meanwhile, Celtic Connection promotes Irish and Scottish culture and sport and hosts Hallowe’en and St Patrick’s parties, a Burns’ supper, and summer picnics. Scottish expats and a host of other nationals can also be found at a weekly Knitting Bee at Café Leyritz, Place Vaucanson.
Although not Anglophone I feel duty-bound to make you aware of Le Club Danemark – Rhône Alpes, who are known to organise Glögg parties, Danish lessons and excursions, including cross country skiing.
English Talk Radio, presented by Vivian Draper, is a bi-monthly show on (90.8 Radio Campus Grenoble. The show talks about film, theatre, finance, restaurants and travel, and has a variety of topical local guests.
For expats who want their young children to have plenty of contact with the English language, there are some associations which can help with this, including Communication Café and ABC Anglais.
If you are looking for American or British style cakes there is The Cake Shop and Bookworm Café. The latter also hosts book and poetry groups, language classes, local artists’ exhibitions and occasional musical performances. They also buy and sell second-hand English books, and have English newspapers and magazines to peruse. Furthermore, if you meet French friends yet to be convinced of the potential merits of American cuisine, Pumpkins might be the place to convert them.
If you can’t find the book you are looking for at Bookworm Café there are two Anglophone libraries, La Bibliothèque Anglophone de Meylan and the English Library at Babel, which also runs book groups for teenagers and adults. Many municipal libraries also have English-language selections, particularly the International Public Library.
Given the dubious French proclivity for dubbing foreign language films, you may want to exercise caution when going to the cinema. Le Club (rue du Phalanstère) and La Nef (boulevard Edouard-Rey) are two theatres with dependably interesting programmes in V.O.
For church-goers, members from about 10 different denominations and 15 nationalities are welcome to attend The English Speaking Church of Grenoble, which also has a programme of social activities including dances, crafts nights, family evenings, visits to local attractions and walks.
In terms of professional development, the most dynamic and active association is the Working Women’s Network of Grenoble, which organizes networking lunches, workshops and seminars, and is run by a very helpful and efficient body of women.
For opportunities to do volunteer work there is VSArt, an association that brings cultural opportunities to disadvantaged and elderly people. The Grenoble chapter was set up and is run by American Meredith Charreyron.
Grenoble also has a number of amateur English-speaking theatre groups. Students from Cité Internationale Scolaire de Grenoble participate in an annual pantomime and Upstage. The latter puts on high quality plays at Ste-Marie-d’en-Bas, a theatre off Place Notre Dame. Likewise, students of the English department at Stendhal University put on productions on campus every year.
English-speakers are also invited to join a new Grenoble English Theatre Group run by Nathalie Joshua. Novices are welcome.
Finally, of course, I mustn’t forget to mention www.grenoblelife.com for further information.