A TRIP TO GRENOBLE by Antony Porter

Around Easter 1960 a group of some twelve Priceans travelled to Grenoble in the south of France. We were accompanied by our French teacher, Mr. A. D. Alderson, otherwise known as “Ada”. A keen linguist, he spoke English, French and also Turkish, even compiling the Turkish-English dictionary still to be found in some of the larger public libraries, as I discovered when I became a librarian.

Today it seems odd that there was but one teacher accompanying twelve lively teenagers but this was how things were over sixty years ago! Nor did there seem to be any concerns about safety, comfort, money, food or drink as I recall, although I do remember that we were forbidden from skiing because we were not insured, a rule that annoyed several of the boys.

We set out from Fareham railway station one evening and travelled overnight to Cherbourg and then on to Paris where we saw some of the famous sights. I was surprised to discover that the Eiffel Tower was rusty brown not black and that it actually swayed in the wind. A tour of the first tier proved enough for me!

We also visited Napoleon’s tomb as well as the Arc de Triomphe before heading by train towards Lyon and then on to Grenoble. To requote the old joke, I couldn’t get over the Alps! I was also quite astonished to see even small children skiing up and down them. They must all have started as toddlers.

The French families waited to greet us lads and mine turned out to be the parents of five boys and two girls. My pen pal was a boy called Roger who was about half my size! His hobby seemed to be inspecting wine shop windows but at least we had a mutual interest in learning one another’s language as well as studying postage stamps.

Once settled in Grenoble I was both excited and terrified of going on the Telepherique, the cableway across the River Isere. It was so high! Some years earlier I had seen a film about a stricken cable car and was therefore convinced that any minute we would all plunge into the river below. I was also amazed at the zigzag of roads everywhere.

There were other challenging sights and sounds and even smells and tastes such as the unfamiliar meals, the Chartreuse wine, bottled water and then bread eaten with chocolate. Some of us boys went to the cinema and watched “Solomon and Sheba” dubbed in French. It was all worthwhile as when I returned to Price’s I came top in French!

Unfortunately Roger’s holidays did not coincide with mine and I was obliged to continue to attend Price’s School whilst my mother took him on trips to London and elsewhere. I think he enjoyed his visit to England but after we all said our farewells at Fareham station, sadly that was that! However, I can still proudly show off my French exam pass.