Grenoble: My Study Abroad Experience (Part 2 – The Fun)

As long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of going on exchange. When picking Universities, I would drop one from the roster if it didn’t have a good study abroad program โ€“ it mattered that much. I ended up choosing Grenoble, France for my experience. Best decision ever. [Note: This is Part 2, make sure to check out Part 1 of this post first.] 

Grenoble: My Study Abroad Experience

The School ๐Ÿ“š

Grenoble Ecole de Management is an internationally accredited school. I was in the third year BIB program studying International Marketing and Advertising. The classes are set up a lot differently than in Canada. Weโ€™d have 7 courses, and other than French, which was every Tuesday, classes would last 1-2 weeks and then be done until exams. Days could be 8:00am to 6:45pm with a 2-hour break at 1:00pm. This is a long and early day compared to what Iโ€™m used to. But somehow we managed to go out every weeknight, wake up at 7:30am and power through the day. How? Iโ€™ll just blame it on the excitement of being on exchange.

Classes aside, GEM was amazing at planning social events. There are a bunch of societies that basically compete to throw the best party. Some you just show up at the chosen bar, others you get a ticket, go on a bus and get taken to a huge dance hall with an open bar โ€“ which Iโ€™ll explain in the nightlife section. There are events every week and itโ€™s not just going to bars/clubs.

It may have just been my luck, but everyone at that school (exchange students and local students) were so welcoming. Invitations are given to everyone; itโ€™s not cliquey. Basically you become friends with all your classmates. Itโ€™s incredible that I made friends from around the world. GEM is the perfect school for exchange in the sense that you will never feel alone โ€“ just participate! Seen below is the photo of the Spring Gala held at the school.

 GEM Gala

The Fun ๐Ÿป

We all know for university students, and especially those studying abroad, finding the good bars is high on the priority list. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. These are the bars that we frequented more than once. The bars that we went to one time were for an event hosted by GEM, so I’m not sure how fun they would be without a huge group of people you know.

London Pub: the #1 spot. They have the best music โ€“ literally all the ones you want to sing and dance to (old and new). Plus it’s pretty much an ode to English culture โ€“ they even had a jersey hanging from of the Ottawa Senators (my hometown hockey team). Monday night has happy hour rates.

Sun Valley: there were quite a few events held here. There’s a good space for dancing and mingling, plus they have a huge section for playing pool (pretty sure there are at least 4 tables). Or if foosball is your thing, they’ve got that too!

O’Callaghan: for a classic Irish pub. Grab a couple pints and watch some European football. We had an amazing St. Patrick’s day here. March 17th is a HUGE deal at my university back home and I was not expecting France to celebrate on the same level. We decided to go to O’Callaghan’s since it’s the only Irish bar we knew of. As we turned the corner, the courtyard was CROWDED with people celebrating and drinking. The bar set up beer stations outside and the lines were so long that you would just get two beers at once and be double fisting most of the night, lol.

Vieux Manoir: is a hit or miss type of place. The main reason to go here is that it’s open until 5am (I believe) so after most of the bars close at 2am we’d head to Vieux Manoir for more dancing. It’s mostly EDM music. The proper term for this place is a discotheque.

Le Subway: I only went here once, but I hear it’s a popular student spot. More of a sit down, chat, drink, and chill type of place.

Le Verre a Soi: this is a very cool wine bar that we went to a few times as a group. If you want more of a posh night out to try multiple wines and enjoy the company of others, this is the place for you. How it works is you get a card that you load up with an amount of your choice. With the card you go up to the wine bar, select the wine and the amount, and the machine will pour for you. I would normally put โ‚ฌ15 on my card and try out 4 wines.

Open Bar Parties: this was the most incredible thing I discovered while in France (party-wise). You’ll pay โ‚ฌ20 cover for a party and get ENDLESS alcohol. Go back as many times as you want and indulge in the inevitable hangover. After witnessing a few of my friends not end the night so gracefully (that’s putting it lightly), I would suggest not drinking before this event โ€“ at most one beer. Trust me. Another interesting thing about these events, is that it can get messy. The first one I went to was a full on alcohol fight (like a water gun/balloon fight but just throwing cups filled with alcohol). I was warned and dressed in clothes I didn’t care about. The first few times I got hit, it wasn’t so pleasant but then some friends and I made a game out of it. It turned into a alcohol throwing war. Childish, I know, but why not let loose? It was one of the best nights of my exchange. The other open bar parties I went to were not as messy, but I still suggest wearing clothes you don’t care about.

Other Parties: held by GEM or Erasmus โ€“ make sure to follow all the Facebook groups to keep updated. I was always that annoying friend who invited everyone to a cool event the second it popped up on Facebook, but in the end we all had a ton of amazing nights. Take advantage of as many of these events as you can stomach … the alcohol catches up with you. One example of an event is Woodstock โ€“ a huge end of the school year celebration, seen below.

GEM Woodstock Party

The Slopes ๐ŸŽฟ

One of the main reasons my friends chose Grenoble for exchange was for the easy access to the slopes. Grenoble is only 1-3 hours from some of the best ski resorts in the Alps. There are so many opportunities for day trips, weekend trips, even a ton of school organized trips (see Les 2 Alpes & Val D’Isere posts). I’ve skied my whole life and started to get bored of it, so I didn’t think I’d ski at all while on exchange โ€“ tops 1 day. In the end I spent 8 days skiing. Though that may not sound like a lot, it reignited my love for the sport. The Alps are incredible.

Les Deux Alps Val D'Isere

The Food ๐Ÿ

Groceries: if you are in a rush, go to the local shop near you. For more of a shopping experience like you’d get back home, I’d suggest going to the Monoprix in la Caserne de Bonne. It’s a mall that has an H&M if you need anymore reason to make the trek. Also, since lugging around groceries is a pain, I’d suggest investing in a rolling grocery basket โ€“ which you can also get at Monoprix for cheap.

Fondue: La Fondue was our favourite place to go. If you go with a big group I suggest getting a cheese fondue and a meat fondue. But it is super filling so if it’s just two of you going, stick to one cheese fondue to split.

Chevre Chaud: wherever I went, this was one of my favourite meals to order. It’s a salad with baked goats cheese on bread. A salad, yes I know, but it’s actually really good and I’ve never noticed this dish anywhere but France.

Sandwiches: you can go pretty much anywhere for sandwiches but my favourite spot to go during my lunch breaks is Planetalis, since it’s right beside GEM. They also serve tasty burgers.

Bagelstein: OMG this place is heaven. They serve amazing bagel sandwiches. Sadly, I discovered my love for this place in the last month of my exchange. There are apparently a bunch of these around France, so I went to their location in Nice too. My favourite is the Fitness bagel, seen below,  and I’m not being basic, it’s actually delicious.


Extra Tips ๐Ÿ’ถ

Rent a Bike: this is something I wish I did. You can rent bikes at Metrovelo for โ‚ฌ15 a month โ€“ with a โ‚ฌ120 deposit that you will get back. It great for exercise, getting places, and discovering more of the city. You are given a lock so you can bring your bike anywhere.

The Tram: is the quickest way to get around the city. It was perfect for lazy days. Tickets are โ‚ฌ1.50 each or you can buy a monthly pass. Make sure to have a ticket (and to validate it each trip) or you will be slapped with a hefty fine.

I will be posting general Study Abroad Tips soon, so stay tuned! Check out pictures from my experience on my Instagram!

22 thoughts on “Grenoble: My Study Abroad Experience (Part 2 – The Fun)

    • Samantha Faloon says:

      I went the winter semester but I can imagine it is what most people would recommend. Being by the alps, you have so many opportunities to ski/snowboard. It never gets too cold in Grenoble, at least compared to Canada and other European cities


      • Danielle says:

        Iโ€™m debating the university for my masters and was curious if you found it difficult living in Grenoble having a limited knowledge of French? Iโ€™m also from Canada and learnt some growing up but didnโ€™t stick with it unfortunately. Also.. did you find it easy to meet new people whether it be international studies or locals?


  1. jcreore says:

    This really brought back memories. In 1954-55, I spent my senior year of high school in Grenoble on an exchange. A lot has changed (I sailed to Europe on the steamship SS Flandre!), but not the beauty of the city or its spirit. I returned for a short visit a few years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brandi says:

    I spent Fall 2005 in Grenoble studying abroad. Glad to hear London Pub and Vieux Manoir are still there and lively. I spent many a late night at VM in my 4 months there, but our bar of choice was “Le Couche Tard”. The other memory that I just can’t shake is the release party for Beaujolais Nouveau. It was like New Years in the USA, but with people passing out free wine! it was fun to read about someone else’s experience and reminisce. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. May says:

    Hey Samantha, I was wondering what was the cost of living like in Grenoble for daily meals, transport and accommodation? Also, where would you recommend to visit or travel around in Grenoble or nearby for day trips?

    I’ll be heading to Grenoble for exchange in Winter this year and I’m really excited after seeing your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samantha Faloon says:

      Hey! Oh that’s a tricky one. I would recommend buy groceries for most of your meals, but you could easily get a meal for under 10 euros. Transportation isn’t expensive if you live fairly central. I only used the transport when I was lazy or in a rush. Accommodation at the student residences were around 600-700 euros a month (*from my memory, but I’m not certain). I have some information about that in my Part 1 post. Also make sure to check out my Day Trip around France for some ideas :) You will have an amazing time!


  4. Nismah Palavkar says:

    I will soon be studying in GEM and I chose to study Msc in fashion and luxury management. I am very confused as to which campus to go to in perspective of academics, opportunities and growth! Should I choose Paris as it is one of the four fashion capitals and thought it might give me more exposure and opportunities or the Grenoble campus?
    Also, your post really did help alot and is written beautifully!
    Thank you :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samantha Faloon says:

      That’s a tough one! I think Paris is perfect for fashion and luxury management. For your academics and career it seems like the better option. Grenoble is fantastic for a fun environment, but I will admit we were all about partying and traveling (because as exchange students we only had to pass our courses). If you’d like to chat more, let me know! Unfortunately, I can’t really speak for the GEM campus in Paris. Best of luck! xx


  5. Laura says:

    Hi Samantha! Thank you so much for your blog. It is so helpful for me as I will be studying at GEM next semester. Just wondering if you had to pay for electricity/gas/internet in addition to your monthly rent and how much it cost you? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samantha Faloon says:

      So glad to hear! Thank you Laura ๐Ÿ˜Š
      From what I remember, where I stayed it was one fixed fee that covered everything. Made it easy for me! Though Iโ€™m fairly certain they charged cleaning fees in the end, even if you clean the flat yourself.


  6. Sarah Fiske says:

    Hi Samantha! I will be studying in Grenoble for three months! Do you have any fun day trip recommendations around the Grenoble area that I should travel to? Also any recommendations on cute cafes and restaurants that have excellent food and a fun atmosphere?


  7. Caitlyn says:

    Hi Samantha! Thank you so much for all the great information about Grenoble! I am currently a student planning on study abroad there in the Fall but I’m having some doubts. It seems like you are really passionate about your experience, but was there anything you doubt from your decision choosing Grenoble over someplace else?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samantha Faloon says:

      Hi Caitlin,

      Thank you for reaching out! I suppose there was some doubt. Part of me wanted to be in a fancy city like Paris, but I also knew it could be harder to make a good group of friends and potentially be more isolating. It was clear that GEM had a great program for international students and was still in a great location to travel all over Europe on weekends.

      I hope you still get to have a study abroad experience once the world gets back to normal.


  8. surfchick16 says:

    Hi Samantha! This was such a good post to read (1&2) as I am considering grenoble alpes university- not GEM unfortunately. I was just wondering what you think the experience would be like as a solo female traveller? I’d love to make some friends there to go snowboard with and go out with- did you make any friends/ see others making friends? This is my main concern because while I have friends at home this exchange doesn’t fit into their Uni schedules.

    Annabelle xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samantha Faloon says:

      Thank you so much Annabelle! Great choice :) I’m not familiar with the experience of Grenoble Alps University but it looks like it’s a bigger school so there might be even more opportunities for ski clubs etc. Check out Altigliss (aka spring break ski festival)! I have a post about it, and you can sign up from different universities.

      I did the exchange on my own as well. Making friends was easier than expected. I started with the other exchange students, because we were all in the same boat, but was surprised when we instantly became friends with the local students as well. Everyone was so welcoming and inclusive. I hope you have the same experience xx


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