River in Grenoble with cable car and Alps behind

Grenoble travel guide

About Grenoble

Grenoble in Rhône Alps is a vibrant city under the shadow of the snow-capped mountains that have given it the title of the 'gateway to the Alps'.

The host of the Winter Olympics in 1968 and a regular site on the Tour de France circuit, Grenoble is the perfect base for exploring this alpine region of mountains and forests. First a Gallo-Roman village, then a medieval town and now a modern city with a strong science industry, the city of Grenoble has a rich heritage from its 2000 year past. The city has, in particular, a compelling religious heritage dating to the very beginnings of Christianity. The now deconsecrated church of Saint Laurent is famous for its archaeological findings and has become a museum dedicated to the archaeology of the site and the history of beliefs throughout prehistory to the dawn of Christianity. Underneath the cathedral complex a baptistery was also discovered dating back to the 4th or 5th century. Take Grenoble's iconic 'bubbles', its cable cars, reaching up to the Bastille, an impressive fort constructed out of limestone and finished in 1848 that never saw gunfire until WW2. Inside the Bastille you'll find a Museum of the Mountain Troops containing life size scenes of some the most poignant moments in their history including trench scenes from WW1.

Grenoble's most famous museum is the Musée de Grenoble, one of the most prestigious museums in France, holding art collections from the 13th to the 19th century as well as a modern art collection from the 20th century. Both Matisse and Picasso donated paintings to the museum, which was founded in 1776 and also has 3 rooms of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art underneath the entrance hall. Other museums not to miss include the Musée de l'Ancien Évêché in the Episcopal Palace, the Musée Dauphinois containing exhibits about the people of the Alps and the history of skiing, a museum of the Resistance, and a Natural History Museum that explores the environment of the Alpine world. The city also has some wonderful architecture with the vestiges of the Gallo-Roman wall, many beautiful churches, and some stunning 15th and 16th century buildings including the Old Parliament building with the right-wing built from grey-blue stone during the Renaissance and Lesdiguières House, which was built by the Dukes of Lesdiguières in the early 1600s. Just 10 minutes away is the 17th century Château de Sassenage with some very pretty gardens. Grenoble also has many interesting modern buildings including the MC2, an extension of the House of Culture, the City Hall and the courthouse, an isoceles triangle of glass.

Surrounded by a number of National Natural Parks, there is much to do including skiing with several ski resorts nearby as well as being a great area for hiking and mountain biking. If you prefer to get some fresh air and exercise within the city limits, take a wander around the lovely parks that Grenoble has to offer. As you'd expect in a city, there is some great shopping to be had in Grenoble with art galleries, fashion boutiques and sweetshops as well as high street brands and many markets - flea markets, traditional flea markets and an excellent Christmas market in December. In Grenoble's restaurants all options are covered with fine dining, traditional brasseries, tea rooms and ice cream parlours. Local specialities to try are potato gratin or potato dauphinois (thinly sliced potatoes baked in cream), crozet pasta (small squares of buckwheat pasta), bugnes and beignets (sweet fritters and donuts), ravioles (stuffed pasta) and the AOC registered products of walnuts and Bleu de Vercos-Sassange, a blue cheese. Enjoy with Beaujolais or Côtes de Rhône wines.

OVERVIEW

  • Country: France

  • Region: Rhône Alps

  • Department: Isère

  • Population: 156,500

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