“Bravo!”, we heard as we passed under an open window early one September morning. Looking up we saw a smiling, balding Grenoblois, cigarette in waving hand, leaning out his window while watching our jogging progress down la rue. Our shuffling on the sidewalk sometimes meets with smiles, looks of astonishment, or more often, heads turning as we plod on by. Words of praise are very welcome.
I don’t think anyone would describe either Steve or me as “athletes”. Over the years we’ve indulged in some physical diversions : swimming, bicycling, hiking, jogging, yoga. Even skiing. All this in the hopes of lowering cholesterol/blood pressure, keeping our “svelte” figures or just having good fun. We feel fitter now, and I’m sure bypassing l’ascenseur (the elevator) and climbing and descending the 100 steps (5 floors x 20 steps) between the street door and our apartment several times every day has contributed to that.
But in Grenoble we are a lonely club. Bicyclists abound; pedestrians, plentiful; joggers, almost non-existent. If you go to Parc Mistral by the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) on a Sunday afternoon, you will see people jogging. They are dressed in the latest running wear and seem to have transformed a turn in the parc into a social event before meeting up at the café for the afternoon. On the street we rarely come upon any fellow joggers.
Our morning runs give us an opportunity to see the real Grenoble. We pass the shopkeepers opening leurs magasins and sweeping their sidewalks, the teenagers waiting outside l’ecole having that last cigarette, or les vielles femmes walking their chiens on the way to the market. One day, while we were jogging, we saw a father bicycling with son enfant tucked in a child seat behind him on the way to la maternelle. As they pedaled past us, the boy’s face broke into a big grin and raising his arm, he waved his petit-déjeuner – un pain au chocolat- as they sped past.
After seeing him, we checked our pockets for some euro coins and headed for Denis’s (pronounced Denny’s), our favorite boulanger, to get our own pains au chocolat. Oh well, so much for those burned-off calories. At least the stairs always await us.
Grenoblois: Grenoble man
la rue: the street
leurs magasins: their stores
l’ecole: the school
les vielles femmes: the old women
la maternelle : the nursery school
son enfant: his little boy