This section will probably only be useful to those who are assigned to the académie of Grenoble and/or to a school in Annecy.
The Académie de Grenoble includes five départements within the Rhône-Alpes region of France: Haute-Savoie, Savoie, Isère, Ardèche and Drôme. The largest cities are Annecy, Chambéry, Albertville, Grenoble, Valence, and Privas. Only Ardèche and Drôme are far enough away from the Alps so as to have more Provence-like weather. The Savoies and Isère are very much mountainous areas with plenty of hiking, hang-gliding, and skiing opportunities. The winters are somewhat mild, but snowstorms do occur, especially at higher elevations. Summers can either be cool and rainy or rather warm, but overall I find the weather to be the worst in Haute-Savoie because of the rain. There are no tornadoes or even really severe thunderstorms, but there can be strong winds.
Airports: There are international airports in Lyon, Geneva, Grenoble, and even Chambéry. You could also fly into Marseille if you are placed in the départements of Ardèche or Drôme. Lyon has a TGV rail station connected to it, as well as buses that serve many of the larger cities. Geneva also has a train station connected to it, and there are trains running to the main rail station downtown (Cornavin) every 10 minutes or so. Grenoble is actually a quite small airport, and mostly serves flights to and from the British Isles. You will have to take a bus from the airport to the rail station in Grenoble proper. The Chambéry airport also mostly serves the British Isles, but there is no public transportation from the airport to the rail station. You will have to take a taxi to the train station. Alternatively, Annecy has a small airport as well, which only serves Paris Orly, and there is a bus connecting the airport to the rail station in downtown Annecy.
Getting to your City
|If you fly into...||and you are going to...||the easiest option is :|
|Geneva||Annecy||Frossard bus direct from airport [download PDF schedule]|
|Geneva||Chambéry / Grenoble||CHEAP: Any Swiss train from airport to Cornavin station, then SNCF train into France [search from "Gare de Genève" on SNCF's TER site]
EXPENSIVE: Aerocar bus direct from airport [view timetable]
|Lyon||several cities||TGV direct from St. Exupéry airport [download PDF schedule] OR Rhônexpress tram [view site] to Lyon Part-Dieu train station, then SNCF train to your city|
|Lyon||Chambéry, Aix-les-Bains, Annecy||CHEAP: Crolard bus direct from airport [download PDF schedule]
EXPENSIVE: Rhônexpress tram [view site] to Lyon Part-Dieu train station, then regular train
|Paris||all cities||TGV (but usually requires more train changes)|
If you are flying into Geneva airport, then check my Travel Tips page on GVA for more information.
If you are flying into Lyon airport, then check my Travel Tips page for LYS for more information.
Orientation for all assistants in the Grenoble académie: The orientation for Grenoble usually takes place on the last Wednesday, Thursday & Friday of September and begins at the CRDP (Centre Régional de Documéntation Pédagogique), which is located at 11, Avenue Général Champon. To get there, just take the Tramway A (a single ride costs 1.30 €) in the direction of Echirolles - Dénis Papin and get off at stop Albert 1er de Belgique. When you get off the tram, you will be on Avenue Général Champon and then go down two blocks to your right, and the CRDP will be on your right. You can drop off your luggage and get your folder (which contains a list of all of the assistants in Grenoble and where they will be teaching) and there will be a (long) meeting in the auditorium. Afterwards, you grab your luggage and hop on a bus to go to Autrans where the rest of orientation is. You will get dinner the first night and be put in hostel-style rooms with assistants who are assigned to the same city or region as you. The next two days you will attend workshops that intend to give you some insight into teaching English and designing lesson plans. I didn't find them too helpful since I already have teaching ESL experience, but others seemed to. The long meeting is in French, but some of the workshops are in English (it just depends on the teacher you get for your workshops). You will be separated into groups according to what level you are teaching, so after each breakfast and lunch, you will need to look at the board to see which groups and which rooms you are in.
Autrans is in the mountains (and the drive there may make you sick because of the winding roads) and it gets very cold at night. Remember to bring warm clothes and a towel for the shower (a lot of people forgot this). However, there was no hot water in the building when we were there, so we had to go without showers. You will be fed very well though, and they do have different food options if you are a vegetarian. There's a bar down the road if you get bored at night. Overall, I hated my experience in Autrans because I was always cold and dirty, but mostly because I was really sick and felt awful. After orientation, we were returned to the train station in Grenoble, but as it was a Friday night, it was completely packed. Some of us almost missed our trains because we had to wait so long to buy our tickets. It might be a good idea to buy your ticket before you leave for orientation.
Medical visit for all (non-EU citizen) assistants in the Grenoble académie: To get to the ANAEM / OMI office for your medical visit in Grenoble, you can take the same tramway from the train station as you did for orientation. Take the blue Tramway A in the direction of Echirolles - Dénis Papin and get off at stop Malherbe. Go towards the big intersection and turn right; this is Rue des Alliés. You will continue down this street until it starts to narrow and you see a big glass building on your right just after you cross Rue Stalingrad. You should see a sign that shows what the numbers are for each building. You are looking for 76, which is just to the left of the big main buildling on the corner. However, the entrance to the ANAEM office is in the back of building 76 so you have to walk towards the parking lot between the buildings and then you will see it on your left. You will need to show your passport and convocation to the receptionist. A nurse will call you back, and do the chest X-ray first. You must take off everything above the waist and you will not be given anything to cover up with. Then another nurse will check your eyes, height and weight. Finally, you will see the doctor who will ask you questions about your health and listen to your heart. I never needed to prove any immunizations, but they will most likely give you information on where you can do this in France if you'd like to. You get to keep the chest X-ray and you will receive two "certificat de visite médicale" - one for you to keep and one for you to give to the Préfecture.
Getting around Annecy: The city of Annecy is not too big so you shouldn't get lost, and the train/bus station is not hard to figure out. The Sibra office (the bus company) is right across the street from the SNCF gare where you can get free maps and schedules. You can pay when you get on the bus (one ride is 1.10 €), and the driver will give you a little ticket that you then need to put into the machine on the bus so it can be validated. There are also weekly and monthly passes available at the main Sibra office (or by mail), as well as a booklet of 10 tickets for 9 € (or 6.40 € if you are a student and under 26.) Remember that you cannot exit the bus through the front doors and you may need to push the red button to make sure the bus actually stops at your stop.
There seem to be a lot of apartments near the station, so that would be the ideal location, but you'll end up paying close to 400 € a month or more for rent. If you do not have internet at your place, there are plenty of internet cafes, but the Courier mall has free wireless internet. Courier is where you will also find a large movie theater, H&M, FNAC, etc. The Office de Tourisme in the Bonlieu Centre has free maps and information about Annecy and the Bureau Information Jeunesse (where you should start your housing search) is just across the hall. There is a Carrefour towards the north end of Annecy on Avenue de Genève (bus 9 in direction Clinique d'Argonay, stop: Colombière) as well as two Monoprixs (one at Courier and one in the vieille ville). There's a big bookstore called Decitre at 19 Rue Sommeiller, and they have books on French as a Second/Foreign language that you might want to buy. There's also an indoor swimming pool in the suburb of Seynod; bus 4 in direction Seynod Neigois, stop: Muraillons. The swimming pool/skating rink that is open all year long is located north of Annecy. There is a large bus stop close by where many bus lines terminate, called Piscine Patinoire. The cheapest place to eat is Chez Barnabé on Rue Sommeiller, near Bonlieu Centre.
Finding Housing in Annecy: A lot of places are available as of September 1st, so if you're searching online for accommodation, try to get in contact with the landlords before September. Otherwise, most places are rented out to students very quickly and it can be hard to find something if you're looking at the end of September.
Assistants no longer have to apply for the Carte de Séjour, but validating your visa with the OFII is required within 3 months of your arrival in France. The Office of Immigration's website has all the information you need on what to do after your arrival in France. The OFII office in Annecy is on Rue de Rumilly, very close to the train station.
Renewing in Grenoble: If you are trying to renew your contract for the following year for the académie of Grenoble, the people to contact (if they haven't contacted you already by the second week of July) are Fabien Rivaux and Virginie Dalla-Rosa at the Rectorat. However, if you receive no response from them, there are some other e-mail addresses you can try.