If I did not upload very many pictures yesterday, I’m going to make up for it today.
It rained during the night, which fell in the form of snow on the higher Alpine peaks. There was noticeably more snow on the mountains this morning than there had been yesterday. Yesterday’s weather forecast had predicted rain showers today, so I thought I might spend a good part of the day indoors or walking from place to place wearing a rain jacket. However, although the sky was overcast, rain didn’t look likely, so I took a chance and decided to hike up to the Bastille or fortress, which consists mainly of tunnels and caverns burrowed into the mountainside’s rock. I did wear my rain jacket, just in case. The weather was chilly enough to require at least a sweater.
I’m staying several miles south of the main part of town, so I took a bus and then a light rail train downtown. The original section of Grenoble is on the banks of the Isère River, and the cliffs where the Bastille was built rise steeply from the river’s opposite bank.
I rode the light rail, called a tram in France, one stop too far, and as I was walking back, I encountered this carnival, which reminded me of the carnivals that used to visit the towns and small cities of Western Pennsylvania when I was a kid. Hundreds of little kids were lined up to get in. It appeared that all of the Kindergartens in the city had decided to take their pupils to the carnival on the same day.
I wasn’t far up the trail when I got a chance to photograph the sheer cliff face pictured below. When I was studying in Grenoble, twelve years ago, one of the cliffs was dedicated to rock climbing, and I believe this was the one. There were hand and footholds pounded into the rock plus cables running from top to bottom to which the climbers could clip their safety harnesses. If this was the cliff that was set up for rock climbing, it no longer is. There is a fence across the top, which I assume was put there to discourage climbers.
Here is a picture of one of the smaller caverns that make up the old fortress. This one was constructed out of blocks of stone instead of being dug into the mountain. I can’t imagine the amount of work that went into cutting the stones used in construction in previous centuries. Whole giant cathedrals were built using hand-cut stones.
Finally, I reached the end of my hike. It was not the top of the mountain or even the highest part of the fortifications, but it was a good stopping point, because it is the spot on the mountain that one can reach by riding the téléphérique or aerial tramway. In the picture, four of the téléphérique’s modules are starting their descent, which means that four more must be starting up from the bottom. In photographs I have seen as few as two or as many as six of these modules linked together, but when I’ve seen the téléphérique in person, there have always been four.
When I was living in Grenoble, I once rode the téléphérique down the mountain just for the experience, but I prefer to hike up and down.
There is a spiderweb of paths on the mountainside, so the hiker has a choice of many routes to go up and down. The route I prefer has several staircases carved out of rock and leading through tunnels, that were also carved into the rock. I used a flash on this shot, because some of these tunnels are so dark inside that the hiker has to navigate by feel rather than by sight. This one, however, had the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.”
At the bottom again, I crossed the river at the Porte de France and snapped this picture from the bridge. I am trying to imagine how much more beautiful the scene would have been had the sun been shinning brightly with a blue sky contrasting with the white of the snow-capped mountains. Even on a gloomy day like today, it was an attractive scene.
My ancient legs were getting tired by this time. I did walk around the downtown section of the city a little, but finally I decided it was time to get back to the hostel, get out of my shoes and into my flip-flops, and have a beer while writing this blog post. That turned out to be a good idea, because it started raining soon after I arrived here.
My goal for tomorrow, if the weather isn’t too rainy, is to walk or ride a bus out to the university complex.