Elevation

It’s cool and rainy here today. Well, at least it is here at our house, it’s snowing just a little bit up from us.

That difference is one of the things that struck me as truly strange when we first arrived here – how important elevation is to your daily life.    

Pretty much everyone who lives up out of the city (on any of the three mountain ranges around Grenoble) can tell you the elevation of their house, often to within 10m or less. Some places are even have their elevation as part of the actual name. When there is precipitation you are told the limite pluie/neige. It is something that seems to be as natural to speak of up here as your neighborhood would be in a normal city.

Although the area around Grenoble truly does experience four full seasons – it seems that altitude is one of the key factors that moderates them.  Elevation changes temperature, and therefore also rain vs. snow, and therefore skiing, driving, living conditions etc.   (our house is about 690m above sea level, in case you were wondering).

I have been told that – all else held equal – the temperature drops 0.6 degrees for every additional 100m of elevation.  We are close to 500m above Grenoble – which means that there is almost always a few degrees of difference between our house and the city.  However, since Grenoble is in a bit of a Y-shaped valley (two rivers coming in -merging and heading out as one) and thus three mountain ranges around it – the city can also get some strange inversions that can drop the temperature to be colder than us, or can have weather systems that sit on the city and absolutely trap the head (and smog) in the summer time.

Living in Grenoble, you would  never need snow tires, up where we are, you could possibly get away without them – but would be resigned to parking your car at the bottom of certain hills and walking home a few days a year.  Up just 10 kilometers past us you would (in a normal year – this year not being normal) likely need snow-chains to ensure you can get into your driveway.

One other strange thing that really shocked me the first time I learned it was the elevation of Grenoble.  Much of the city is around 200m above sea level.   To put that in context – when you are in Grenoble, surrounded by mountains, looking up at snow capped peaks and within a short drive of world-class ski resorts – you are almost half a kilometer LOWER than when you are sitting on the prairies in Edmonton.  (I know, weird right?!)

Learning quite well

The other day Micah and I were driving home having dropped the older two off after their (two hour) lunch break.

As we approached the village boulangerie he piped up from the back seat “papa – stop at the boulangerie and I will get a baguette all by myself”

Wow.

 How much he’s learned already.

 His grasp of French is already good enough that he has confidence to go into the store and buy bread.

Jonah started doing this a while ago – so I guess he feels now he is also up for the challenge.

I thought I better double-check his abilily to do so, and make sure he is using polite forms of verbs etc.

“What would you say”

“uhh – Bonjour! Un pain au chocolat et une flute”

that’s right – a croissante-like pastry filled with chocolate and (for some reason) a long skinny baguette.

Nice Try.

Unfortunately the boulangerie was closed – must have been Tuesday or something.

Maybe next time

Learning quite well

The other day Micah and I were driving home having dropped the older two off after their (two hour) lunch break.

As we approached the village boulangerie he piped up from the back seat “papa – stop at the boulangerie and I will get a baguette all by myself”

Wow.

 How much he’s learned already.

 His grasp of French is already good enough that he has confidence to go into the store and buy bread.

Jonah started doing this a while ago – so I guess he feels now he is also up for the challenge.

I thought I better double-check his abilily to do so, and make sure he is using polite forms of verbs etc.

“What would you say”

“uhh – Bonjour! Un pain au chocolat et une flute”

that’s right – a croissante-like pastry filled with chocolate and (for some reason) a long skinny baguette.

Nice Try.

Unfortunately the boulangerie was closed – must have been Tuesday or something.

Maybe next time

There is a new type of train service here in France.  They have decided – it would seem – that riding on the regular old TGV is no longer cool enough for 18-35 year olds. 

The solution: a new way to travel. The iDTGV.

Tickets are only sold online. There is separate boarding procedure. Different prices. They are actually different cars – but at least on the train we were on – it was attached to the regular TGV that was also bound for Grenoble.

During the day – you have a choice between two different ‘atmospheres’: iZen and iZap.

During the night there is iDnIght. Nope, not sleeper cars with beds – that’s so old fashioned. This one is not for sleeping – it’s pretty much a 300km/h all night rave across the country. Live DJ’s, dancing, disco lights – you know, over-night train.

During the day, iZen is for those who want to sit quietly and not be disturbed. It’s what we travelled in – the conducter actualy came through and reminded everyone right as we were pulling out that we had to be quiet and leave the car to use a phone. Then no one came through our car for the rest of the journey. Yikes.

We grabbed a couple bagette sandwiches before we got on board – but nothing to drink – so I wandered one car over to the bar car. Guess what – it was iZap.

This is what was going on there.

Next time I think we may have to ride iZap.

How did we get cover the nearly 1200km for a round trip to Paris and still make it worth while to only be there one day.

This is how.

The TGV. Train à Grande Vitesse- literally “Train at Great Speed” no kidding.

This would be meeting another train heading in the opposite direction. 

Us leaving Paris travelling at about 300km/h + train Paris bound travelling at around 300km/h = wow.

Bear in mind these trains tend to be very long.