Raising the spirits

I amused myself this morning trying to find a street corner without mountains taller than Ben Nevis a bit beyond the traffic lights (extra). Fail. With the Chartreuse mountains to the north, the Vercors to the west and south west and the Belledonne chain to the south east, Grenoble has eye-raising views at every turn. 

These tower blocks feel hubristic from street level but the mountains soon get their own back - you don't have to climb very far before they disappear into the mass of roofs below.

After our reception in the Town Hall - European co-operation is militantly alive and well here - a group of us walked across the Isère (extra) and a short way up to the Musée Dauphinois for an exhibition irresistibly called 'L'Ivresse des Sommets' (the drunkenness of the peaks). Liqueur production here has a long history, domestic and commercial, infusing a base of alcohol with different combinations of the many aromatic plants that grow in the mountains. And, in a few alarming cases, also snakes. 

Until fairly recently the marketing has been based around their alleged health-giving properties of which there are so many, according to the posters on display, that it's rather surprising that anyone here has ever died. Perhaps more recent deaths arise from alcohol being banned in primary schools in 1954 and replaced by milk. 

Once we'd sniffed phials of juniper, gentian, absinthe and a host of other subtleties, our kind hosts added to the sensory experience by producing a basket of small glasses and a bottle of 1605 Chartreuse. Unquestionably healthy.

Then another long rehearsal, mostly pulling together the orchestra and soloists who were meeting, rather raggedly, for the first time.

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