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I’m a city girl.
I like the feeling of stepping out the door and being swept up by the tumult of the city. I relish the sounds, the promise, the convenience, the culture, the excitement, and the great, almost tangible, pulse of the city.
Yet, despite this abiding love and devotion, I secretly long for the tranquility of the country. So I find myself constantly pulled between, on the one hand, the thrill of the city with its endless possibilities and, on the other, the serenity of the country. Maybe it’s a sign I’m getting older, but recently I find myself dreaming of settling down in an old French country house with a garden in a quiet corner of France with a vintage Citroën deux chevaux parked on the pebble driveway for weekend excursions to the city.
That dream is in the process of being built, but in the meantime, I’ve found myself a peaceful little haven just across the river from the city centre. This little pocket of serenity was, quite fittingly, a convent before it was turned into the regional museum, Le Musée Dauphinois.
Inside, there are exhibitions on the history of the region, which are moderately interesting, but what makes this place truly special is what’s on the outside. In the idyllic gardens and the inner courtyard you can feel the history of this place and the contemplative life that reigned over it for centuries. Whenever I’m feeling restless, I come here and settle into a chair in the cloister to gaze at the age old well and the stone arches across the green or I walk in the garden and admire the autumnal leaves that wallpaper the exterior in soft pinks, purples and reds.
And every time I come here, I remember to say a little thanks to the city of Grenoble for offering (for free!) us city dwellers a sanctuary that holds the soul of the country in the heart of the city.