Grenoble, a large town in southeast France, is stunningly situated at the confluence of the rivers Drac and Isere, nestled between the mountain ranges of the Vercors and Chartreuse Massifs.

The town dates back to Roman times. It joined France after being sold for a pittance by the impoverished Dauphin of Vienne in 1349. Now a major industrial centre, specialising in the chemical and electronics industries, the town is home to two Universities, the University of Grenoble, one of the oldest in Europe, and the science oriented Joseph Fourier University.

Often called the 'Capital of the Alps', Grenoble's breathtaking scenery and easy access to some of the best ski slopes in Europe made it an ideal venue for the 1968 Winter Olympic Games.

Grenoble has boasted some famous residents over the years. The novelist Stendhal was born here while the philosopher Rousseau, mathematician Joseph Fourier and film director Jean luc Goddard have all lived in the town at one time or another.


The best way to get your bearings in Grenoble and appreciate its stunning scenery is to take a trip in Les Bulles Cable Car. Starting at the quayside the little bubble cars transport visitors to the Fort de la Bastille, a military base built in the 16th century and greatly expanded in the 19th. As well as touring the buildings the castle is surrounded by extensive parklands, running all the way back to the river and the old town.

The Musée de Grenoble in the Place de Lavalette has a collection of artworks dating from Roman times to the present day. It's collection of 20th Century works is particularly impressive, including pieces by Picasso, Chagall and Matisse.

One unusual collection of modern art can be found at the Basilique de Sacre Coeur. This rather dour 19th Century church has been invigorated by the addition of 25 huge, almost abstract paintings by contemporary artist Marie Israel.

As befits a Winter Olympics site there are plenty of opportunities for winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing in the mountains around Grenoble. The city is surrounded by twenty 'ski stations', at 15min away by car Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse is the nearest.

If winter sports leave you cold you've no need to worry. Grenoble has some of the longest hours of sunlight anywhere in Europe and there are plenty of hot weather activities. The Parc Paul Mistral is a bit out of the centre of town but it offers some very relaxing walks in carefully manicured gardens, dotted with modern statues. To the southwest lies the Vercors, one of France's most beautiful national parks, ideal for hiking and cycling. Not to be missed is the hamlet of Pont-en-Royens whose stone houses perch precariously over a narrow limestone gorge, carved out by the Bourne River.

From May to September the man-made Bois Francais Lake is a fantastic location for jet-skiing, windsurfing and swimming. Every summer the municipality transforms the Place de la Bifurk into the 'Plage de la Bifurk' as it creates an artificial beach where locals and tourists alike can enjoy a range of sports from football and volleyball to 'beachminton' and 'frisbeach'.


Grenoble is rich territory for shopping. High-class shops and expensive boutiques are centred on the Place Sainte-Claire. There are large numbers of markets throughout Grenoble, specialising in food, drinks, antiques, books and a range of other goods. Different markets occur at different times throughout the year so it is best to check specifics with Tourist Information before travelling.

The second Sunday of every month sees the L'Esplanade Flea Market, a great chance to pick up a bargain or two.

Grenoble has an extensive antique district around the rue Bayard and the rue Voltaire in the old town. Shops range from lavish emporiums selling only the finest and oldest pieces to bric-a-brac shops selling heaps of curios in various states of repair.

Nightlife and Eating Out

With its large student population Grenoble is not short of nightlife. Place Grenette is a pedestrianised area full of clubs and late night bars.

The town has an impressive range of restaurants, centred particularly on the Place de Gordes. The proximity of the Italian border has a definite influence on the Dauphinoise cuisine of the region. There are plenty of old-style French eateries that serve delicacies like fondue, herring paté with whiskey and walnut salads. The walnuts of Grenoble are in a class of their own. They have been granted an appellation of controlled origin, giving them the same 'brand-protection' as Champagne.

There are several local wines of high quality. The soil in the area is particularly suited to producing white wines, especially lightly sparkling-wines and sweet desert wines.There are several vineyards surrounding Grenoble and local vineyard co-ops are often happy to sell direct to the public if you drop by.

One can't get within sight of the Chartreuse Mountains and not come home with a bottle of green or yellow Chartreuse. The eponymous herbal liqueurs have been produced by local monks since 1737.

Tourist Information

Municipal Office of Tourism14, Rue de la République38 000 GrenobleTel. 04 76 424 141Fax. 04 76 001


Grenoble's own airport, the Saint-Geoirs, is 45km to the north-west of the city. Flights arrive here from across Europe, including from London Stansted. Alternatively Grenoble is roughly one hour away from Lyon's Saint-Exupéry International Airport and ninety minutes from Geneva's Cointrin International Airport.

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