This post comes to us from Amelia Bowen who is currently studying in Grenoble, France. She is an International Relations and French Major from American University.
I’m closing in on a month in Grenoble, and as a result, I feel like I am finally adjusting to the French way of eating. I’ve gotten used to smaller breakfasts instead of my usual eggs and bacon, and full on lunches instead of PB and J. Finally, I am no longer hungry at 6:30pm, but can rather wait until 8 to eat with my host family. The French eat well but in moderation; this, I believe, is the secret to their well-known health.
There is one facet of French food culture that will never get old to me: bread and pastries. One does not have to walk far in Grenoble to find a delicious boulangerie-patisserie with a wide assortment of bread, quiches, biscuits, croissants and other baked delicacies to choose from. In centre-ville, anywhere between the Notre Dame and Maison du Tourisme tram stops, you can see one from another.
The quality is never low, which always astounds me. A French appreciation for fresh and local ingredients means that even the “low-level” vendors produce a product that rivals anything sold in the best bakeries in the United States. Almost without exception, you can walk into any boulangerie you stumble across and get something great.
That is not to say, however, that there is no such thing as a standout patisserie in Grenoble. Take, for example, Bourbon, which sits on the corner of Notre Dame Plaza facing the fountain. Bourbon does everything in excess but also with taste: massive meringues, large enough to feed a family; quiches of every type; even ice cream which, richer than most gelatos, is scooped onto a tall cone sold out of the front window. Bourbon has become the culinary haunt of many of us in the program, due in part to its location by the fountain and for its reasonable prices (I have found this to be true of all baked goods in France; delicacies in the United States go for a euro or two tops in Grenoble).
I knew the French were known for their baked goods (Baguettes! Croissants! Café! Oui Oui!). I just never could have imagined how true this reputation is. If you ever find yourself in Grenoble – or anywhere in France, for that matter – please do not calorie count; there is no such thing as too many baked goods.