Chartreuse, hitchhiking, and a whole lot of walking

On Saturday, the girls and I found out that Sept. 14 was journée patrimoine, which is basically a heritage day for France, so many of the tours, museums, etc are either free or discounted—2 words that I will always catch my attention. We decided to try Musée de la Grande Chartreuse, a museum about the Carthusian order and its monks and nuns, some of which are still living in the monastery a few kilometers away.

So, we planned to visit the farmer’s market in the morning and then, with a fresh lunch bought from the markets, head over to the museum for about three hours.

The market was so cool—regressing back to 3rd grade descriptions. Everything was fresher than what we get in the supermarkets… and those are already very fresh compared to the United States. The only way these could be fresher is if we stood next to the farmer as they handpicked the vegetables from the ground.

saturday farmer's market

A man doling out fresh HONEY
A man doling out fresh HONEY
Deciding on types of cheese. We ended up with ol’ fromage du chèvre and a chartreuse cheese. Trying to stick with a theme here.
lonely violin player
Is that the same lady’s ass in the background? Was she crouching the whole time?

market exchange french women grapes olives Afterwards, we ran to catch a bus that would take us outside Grenoble into a different region of Isère. First of all, I want to stress how perfect timing had to be during our adventures. The last bus leaving the mountains was at 4:38 and we were aiming to leave Grenoble on the 12:10 bus—the journey was about an hour and 20, one-way. If we took a later bus, there was no way we would be able to do anything there.

None of our credit cards would work on the machine to buy tickets and we only had 5 minutes left before the bus left! Sweating. The price of the tickets were very cheap (3,30€) and depended on what zone we wanted to go to.

A minute before the bus left, we got one magical card to work and climbed on!

The trip was a slow, beautiful meander throughout the nearby cities and up the mountains. We saw everything through the bus’s panoramic windows.

We found a place for panoramas and camped there for our picnic. Gorgeous. 

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Always so happy with food… until we realized that the museum was about 2 km away from where we were. Looks like we were hiking it! The boys we asked told it might be easier for us to hitchhike… but it was such a beautiful day.

So we started walking alongside the curving road. We had to cross every time it turned because we didn’t want to get mowed over by blind cars—see, we’re being safe, mom!


On the way, we got distracted by some caves.

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But then… it turned out to be a farther walk than we expected. We only had about 2 hours to get there and back to catch the last bus heading back to Grenoble. So… we started sticking out the thumb.  IMG_0620-2


We had a few whistles and claps of encouragement, but it was getting late.

About 10 minutes after we passed panic, a very nice lady pulled up alongside us and told us she was going to the museum! We piled in, had a very nice conversation with her, and got dropped off at the front.

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One problem solved only to run into another one: we were now too far away to make it to our original bus stop, even if we left immediately. 

While making a pit stop in the gift shop filled to the ceiling with the chartreuse liquor they’re famous for, we asked if there was a closer bus stop. I swear, today was the day of extremely nice encounters with French people. The lady behind the desk looked up the bus information for us on her computer. There was a stop just at the bottom of the hill!

By this time, there was about an hour until the bus got here. We tried looking down to see how far we had to walk in order to get to the bottom, but nothing. Just road and trees. Beautiful road and trees. So we decided on trying to hitch another ride 30 minutes before the bus, giving us 30 minutes to take a shot of chartreuse (55% alc.) and take some photos of the museum&sights.

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Oh yea, what a sight ;)


15 minutes in, no one stopped to pick us up. They all gave us apologetic smiles though, but SMILES AREN’T GOING TO HELP US CATCH A BUS. Finally, we were getting worried, and asked the last car how far it was to walk down to the bottom. They told us about 15 minutes.

We all turned to look at each other.

“Are we doing it?”

A few minutes down, an older couple took pity on us and picked us up. And a 2 minute drive later (guess we really didn’t need to run), we arrived at the bottom, leaving us 10 minutes to spare.

So, in the end, we were not stranded near a monastery (hopefully they would’ve let us seek refuge?) in the middle of the mountains with signs everywhere saying “ABSOLUTELY NO CAMPING.”

But sometime during the sprint down and the hitchhike, we lost the two mini-glasses of chartreuse that we were going to drink before boarding the bus :(

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  • Arman @ thebigmansworld

    Amazing. That whole day- from start to finish- amazing. I’m so jealous and vicariously living through you!!! Keep the recaps coming ;)

    • Michelle

      Haha thanks! It was a very good start to our adventures here :)