While Grenoble is a pretty compact city (blame it on the mountains), sometimes it just makes sense to take the tram or the bus instead of wearing out shoe leather. The tentacled map of Grenoble’s public transportation system can look pretty daunting to the uninitiated, with its TAG bus lines, TransIsère bus lines, and tram lines laid on top of a street map, but the system is really pretty user-friendly.
Visitors will mostly be using the tram, which runs through the city center and to many attractions around the old town. So here are a few tips to make you look like you know what you’re doing when you take the tram.
The TAG (Transports de l’Agglomération Grenobloise), which operates the trams, seems to put a lot of effort into their visuals.
Little Red Riding Hood with her cape stuck reminds visitors to watch out for the doors, which close automatically. A happy face also asks riders if they have validated their ticket.
Bulletin boards on tram stops usually feature people making all kinds of silly faces to give users information. These
ads tell you how to buy tickets online, get discounts on ropes courses with your tram ticket, and where to pick up a pamphlet on using the transportation network to get to hiking departure points.
The information is rarely translated, but the stickers on the tram itself can usually be figured out. As for the bulletin boards, well, at least they may inspire a chuckle from non-French speakers.
It’s easiest to buy tickets at the machines located at the tram stops. They take change or microchip-embedded bank cards (Americans, forget it!). Here’s how it works:
Use the round dial to choose French, English, or Italian.
Spin the dial to highlight the ticket you want, press the round button in the center, choose how many tickets you want, and press the round button again.
The machine will tell you the total price. Put your coins in the slot. If you see “Ne rend pas la monnaie” lit up, you must have exact change. Otherwise, you don’t have to.
Your ticket will fall into the bottom part, like a candybar vending machine.
Retrieve your ticket and insert it into the blue and yellow machines on the platform and you are ready to go.
The TAG offers a dizzying choice of tickets, valid on the tram and bus networks. The most useful for visitors are:
Single ticket (valid for one hour) for 1.40€
Visitag 1 day for 4€ or 3 days for 9.70€
10 rides for 12€
One day Famili Tag for 4.30€ (good for an entire family of one or two adults plus up to three children)
How to ride
- A map of the network is posted at each stop and inside the tram. Use it to help you know where you want to go. Then keep an eye out for your stop. It may be announced, but it is always written on the passenger shelters on the platform.
- Be sure to validate your ticket before getting on the tram. If an inspector boards and you haven’t validated your ticket, you risk a 43.50€ fine
- The trams stop automatically at every stop, but push the flashing green button to open the doors. Otherwise, you may get left on the platform. Same goes for exiting the tram, only you’ll travel an extra stop.
- If you are standing, hold on to the bars. Sometimes the driver stops a little abruptly.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Do offer your seat to an elderly person, pregnant woman, or someone carrying a baby. You may even say “Asseyez-vous (pron. Ah-say-ay voo) madame/monsieur” to let them know that you are offering your seat.
- Do let people get out of the tram before you try to get on. You’ll be more polite than many of the locals if you do.
- Don’t listen to music using your cell phone’s loudspeaker. Some kids do, but it just annoys everybody else.
- Don’t be shy about talking on your cell phone in the tram, just speak softly.
- Don’t eat or drink in the trams. It’s just not done.
With these tips, you should be able to navigate Grenoble’s tram system with ease. Like me (and oddly, a lot of expats in Grenoble), you may even come to enjoy riding the tram.
For more information, visit the Semitag’s official website (in French).