Nestled at the base of the French Alps lies the village of Grenoble, a perfect location for your study abroad adventure in France. Far removed from the tourist saturated city of Paris, this idyllic town will immerse you in the heart of France’s language and culture. A renowned European technological hub and premier academic destination, study abroad in Grenoble will leave you with an impressive international resume and a deep love for all things French.
Studying Abroad in Grenoble
The most popular fields of study in Grenoble are foreign languages, science, engineering, and business management. At the same time, no student should pass up the opportunity to take cultural classes, including those in history and the arts, while studying abroad in Grenoble.
Students who are particularly interested in gaining fluency in French can attend Stendhal Université Grenoble 3, and take rigorous grammar classes in small group settings with students from around the world. Taking French classes in Grenoble will help students master the nuances of the French language, and give them ample opportunities to practice their skills outside of the classroom.
Science and technology undergraduate and graduate students can study abroad in Grenoble and further their education at one of the leading French scientific universities, the Université Joseph Fourier. Students can also further their career by studying abroad in Grenoble, as the city has the highest concentration of strategic jobs in the French technology sector outside of Paris.
Grenoble Ecole de Management, located in central Grenoble, is another academic institution that offers students interested in business the opportunity to continue taking classes in their major while learning the French language, an important skill for those looking to get a leg up in the growing global business market.
Grades at most French universities are solely exam-based, and students are graded on a more rigorous scale than most other international education systems. The good news is your hard work will pay off, as it is likely that your home university will accept your French grade and academic credits.
Life in Grenoble
Grenoble is known for its high quality of living, and with 60,000 students in the area it’s no wonder they have a lot of enticing attractions and a thriving nightlife. However, daytime activities are more down-to-earth and “small town” as one might expect. You can wander through the fresh market at Les Halles or visit the beautiful mountains surrounding Grenoble on your free time. In the winter, the mountains make for great skiing or snowshoeing adventures; remember we are talking about the Alps, so you should expect nothing less than amazing! In the summer, hiking and picnicking in the Alps is equally common.
Take your new friends on a hike up to La Bastille, an ancient series of fortifications visible from anywhere in the city, or if you are feeling less energetic take Les Bulles (the bubbles), the cable car linking the city center to the Bastille, which offers an excellent view of the Isère river. #selfies! On a rainy afternoon, you can pay a visit to the Musée de Grenoble, the first museum in France to open its collection to modern artists, which holds one of the largest collections in Europe. Don’t rush out after either, sit and have a coffee at the museum café after you’ve had a chance to soak in all the art.
French food is highly regarded around the world, and Grenoble offers many traditional dishes fit for the high streets of Paris, with the price tags of a small town. Indulge in the regions traditional dishes, such as the gratin dauphinois, a potato dish cooked in cream and butter, served piping hot. If you are craving something non-traditional, try a kebab from one of the various shops in the city center. They are perfect for a bite to eat after class or resting after a long evening of dancing. The regional drink is a little more controversial than the cuisine of Grenoble; Chartreuse is a green or yellow liquor with a potency slightly less than absinthe. You’ll either love it or hate it, but you cannot leave the region without taking a sip!
An important aspect of French culture is the art of doing nothing, and Grenoble is a perfect place to test your newly acquired skills. Sit at sidewalk café for hours and people watch, lounge in a park with a good book, or stroll the cobblestone streets and window shop. Whatever you do, make sure you have a baguette with you, because that’s how the French do it!
Getting around in Grenoble is as easy and as reliable as it gets in France. Their metro system includes a popular tram system that takes you from every end of the village, with a bus system that extends to the suburbs. However, walking in your neighborhood radius is the fastest way to get around. Although, when you’re trying to get home at 2 a.m. after the trams have stopped running, there are always taxis too.
Accommodations & Visas
Most study abroad programs in Grenoble arrange homestay accommodation for students. Homestays are the perfect choice for study abroad students in France as they give students true cultural immersion. It can be fun to have discussions about the upcoming elections or your classes with your host family, and you might even get the chance to accompany them during some of their day-to-day activities or family vacations.
Another housing option that is commonly offered is dorm-style living, which gives students the opportunity to meet other international and local students. These options are harder to find, but if you talk with your program provider early on they can typically help you navigate the necessary paperwork to make it work.
As anyone who has been in France for an extended period of time can tell you, bureaucracy is a way of life in France. Therefore, in general, it can be hard to navigate the paperwork necessary to secure a student visa, which is required of all international students from outside the European Union. For those of you non-EU citizens, a visit to a French consulate or embassy in your home country will provide you with all the paperwork you need to complete the visa process. Proof of acceptance into a French university or study abroad program in Grenoble, proof of adequate funds to support you well abroad, as well as your visa application will be needed to complete the process.
Be sure to work closely with both your home university and your study abroad program provider in France, as well as the French authorities to ensure your stay is legal and issue free. For more information on French embassies in your home country, consult GoAbroad’s French Embassy Directory. Last piece of advice: try to get started early with the visa process, allotting yourself with plenty of time and avoiding unneeded pressure.
Benefits & Challenges
The benefits of study abroad in Grenoble include a reliable transportation system, phenomenal cuisine, and a sublime skyline to marvel at on your walk to class (among a number of other things of course!). Shopkeepers will get to know you on a first-name basis, it is a small town after all, anticipating your need for Pistachio Macarons every Tuesday afternoon. And your ability to travel to other cities and countries will be augmented by the relatively inexpensive cost of living in Grenoble.
The only drawback of studying in Grenoble is that it isn’t a giant urban hub. When you think of study abroad in France you might immediately think of the stereotypes of Paris, with its bustling streets and active nightlife. But Grenoble isn’t Paris, it is a small French village, so those looking for the glamor and glitz of the big city should look elsewhere.
Grenoble is a town that slowly seeps into your soul. It entices you with the allure of French culture, and introduces you to the slower pace of small-town French life. The numerous educational experiences available in Grenoble go beyond the classroom making each moment in France more unforgettable than the next.
From the constant translation of your native tongue into her intricate language to the diversity of the people, study abroad in Grenoble will leave its mark on you for life.