Without wireless in Grenoble? Don’t want to use an internet café or pay to buy a clé USB from SFR or Orange? Read on for sites of reliable and free internet access at various points throughout the city.
By Anne S.
Pain et Cie
1 bis, rue de Lafayette
Tram: Sainte-Claire les Halles (B)
Pain et Cie is located very close to Place Notre Dame and is a great brunch/lunch/breakfast place. It’s a casual, relaxed spot with long wooden tables and a nice outdoor terrace as well. They have a bunch of tartines and jus de fruits bio and an incontournable spread of brunch items – it’s usually packed on Sunday mornings with everyone from students to families to young couples. They have a good free wireless network (although one or two times it didn’t work for me) and the big tables are excellent working spaces.
Pros: I’ve seen quite a few people working on computers there and the food is really good and reasonably priced. The restaurant as a whole has a nice atmosphere and the people who work there are also very friendly. Definitely my favorite wifi spot in Grenoble proper (excluding the university).
Cons: Pigeons sometimes fly in and out, which is alarming, but has nothing to do with computers. Also, there are only a few outlets, so bring your computer fully charged.
Université de Grenoble
Saint Martin d’Hères campus
Tram: Bibliothèques Universitares (B/C)
This was my preferred point of Internet connectivity in Grenoble, as I was a part-time student at the university. The Bibliothèque Universitaire has plenty of tables, plugs, and excellent connectivity, as do a number of other sites on campus. The Fac also offers an opportunity for connection that is not a coffee shop or eating establishment, so it is theoretically one of the few “free” hotspots on this list.
Pros: The majority of campus buildings are wireless, and the Internet is fast and reliable.
Cons: You must be enrolled at the university to gain access to the network, if I’m not mistaken. It’s locked unless you have a login from their registrar.
French Coffee Shop
3 place Claveyson
Tram: Sainte-Clare les Halles (B) or Maison de Tourisme (A/B)
This coffee shop is actually a chain with a number of locations around France. I got the impression that it is modeled after an American-style coffee shop (think Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, or Tully’s), with blended ice drinks, smoothies, and muffins. It attracts a relatively young clientele, including a considerable amount of foreign (mostly American) students. The wireless network here was secure (password protected) and very reliable, and there are also a number of outlets to plug a power cord.
Pros: Outlets! Comfortable couches! And if you’re not in the mood for pastries, excellent chocolate muffins!
Cons: Do you really want to spend all your days at a place called French Coffee Shop?
Le 5 (Musée de Grenoble)
5 place de Lavalette
Tram: Musée de Grenoble (B)
Le 5 is the restaurant attached to the Musée but, of course, you can eat there with out paying admission to the museum. I’ve sat in there some afternoons with a coffee or a tea doing work on my computer and it’s a nice, quiet place.
Pros: Quiet place to get things done, nice tables. At the Musée which is a nice change of pace from the average internet cafe.
Cons: Like all museum restaurants, prices are a little higher. I also felt a little weird using my computer in the restaurant, but in the afternoon (around 4ish) when things were slow and I was lounging around with an espresso it seemed to be fine.
76 avenue Gabriel Péri, Saint Martin d’Hères
Tram: Neyrpic Belledone (C)
I’ve never actually tried this one out but I’ve been told that the shopping center here has free wifi. Where you’d use it in a grocery store is beyond me, but that’s that.
The ville de Grenoble has launched a public wireless access campaign, which gives users access in a variety of public spaces around the centre ville. Right now these spots include Parc Paul Mistral, Place Grenette, Place Saint-Andre, Place Victor Hugo, le Jardin de Ville, and le Jardin des plantes. The network (wifigrenoble or Ville-de-Grenoble) is somewhat reliable, with varying degrees of connectivity depending on where you are, but last time I checked the wifi in Parc Paul Mistral did not allow access to various media sharing sites such as Facebook, Youtube, Hulu.
Pros: Internet is accessible almost anywhere in the centre ville, including cafes or restaurants near the hotspots. I never lived in centre-ville proper, so I wouldn’t know if it is accessible if you live there, but maybe someone else can answer that question.
Cons: Checking your e-mail in Parc Paul Mistral? Really? It’s kind of awkward. Also, I have never seen anyone using a computer in that park, and when it’s sunny you get that whole problem of not being able to see the screen. You’d also run a higher risk of getting your computer stolen as it’s pretty open public place. More information here.
Also, I was told last spring that the Bibliothèque in centre ville was getting wifi, but am not sure if that has happened yet. Can anyone confirm this?