A little city nestled in a plain amongst the French Alps…doesn’t it sound absolutely idyllic? Welcome to Grenoble. Grenoble is a city in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of southeastern France and is a hotspot for winter sports. Although surrounded by mountains, the city itself is very flat because it lies at the foot of the mountains in between the rivers Drac and Isère.
- Grenoble is one of Europe’s leading cities for research, technology and innovation. 20% of the city’s population works in one of these fields.
TO SEE AND DO IN grenoble
- The Alps! : The Belledonne, Vercors et Chartreuse mountains surround Grenoble and this provides lots of activities for nature-lovers. In the winter, it’s all about the skiing. There are around twenty ski resorts around the Grenoble area, the closest one being a 15-minute drive from the city. In summer, there’s a selection of nature reserves and national parks in the Alps that you can hike in. Naturally these natural areas are outside the city itself, but the journey will be a mere forty minutes.
- Cable cars (La Téléphérique): La Téléphérique was the first urban cable car in France. It was built in Grenoble in 1934 and was then transformed into the “bulles” in 1976. The bubble-shaped cable cars will take you up to a height of 500m, where you can gaze upon the city and the surrounding mountains. For an alpine wander, stop at Bastille hill and you can hike or mountain bike around the Chartreuse mountains.
- Le Musée Dauphinois: This museum located on Bastille hill is dedicated to the culture and life of the alpine people. It was originally built to be a convent in the 17th century, but has also been used as a prison, a cavern and as accommodation in its lifetime. It has been classed as a historic monument and hosts exhibitions such as ‘The People of the Alps’ and ‘Rural life in the Mountains in the 19th Century’. The exhibitions are all centred on the region and its heritage. The museum also has a free private garden which boats some lovely views of the old town and the banks of the Isère.
- Cuves de Sassenage: Looking at the mountains is nice and all, but what about actually venturing inside them? At the Cuves de Sassenage you can go into the caves of the Vercors mountains. They were created through water erosion over millions of years and even today you can hear the plip plop of water and see streams inside. When first opened, the cave trail was only about 200m but nowadays you can walk for over a kilometre inside the mountain. Furthermore the path into the caves overhangs a canyon with waterfalls and greenery.
- Grenoble city centre: If you like city strolls, then Grenoble will be your kind of town. The historic quarter is full of pedestrian routes and little nooks and crannies to discover: from the cathédrale Notre-Dame built in the 10th century to the Ancien Palais du Parlement, which has been the seat of Justice in Grenoble for the past 500 years. Thanks to the Jardin de Ville and the banks of the Isère, the city centre isn’t over-industrialized either, giving walkers some lovely green areas to simply “flaner”.