Grenoble: what to do, what to see...

It’s impossible to disassociate Grenoble from the Alps, with its Mountain Film Festival, nearby ski slopes and France’s oldest cable car. But in spite of this, Grenoble is a great year-round destination, with a flat terrain perfect to explore by bike, along the riverbanks, through parks and gardens and past the street art that adorns the city. Cycling also aligns with Grenoble’s status as a sustainable city, boasting the first urban eco-district in the country.

Grenoble is situated in the south-east of France, just over 3 hours by train from Paris. As the capital of the Alps and the Dauphiné, a university city housing the Ecole de Management, a science hub and an official City of Art and Culture, Grenoble has a long list of assets. Perhaps its greatest attraction is the cable car –nicknamed ‘Les Bulles’ (‘The Bubbles’) – which was built in 1934, making it France’s oldest. The journey up from Grenoble takes just 3-4 minutes and the views from the summit are spectacular, encompassing Mont Blanc, the cliffs of Vercors and the Belledonne massif.

Back on the ground, the old town of Grenoble is full of lively squares, mansions and pretty shopping streets. Culture vultures are well catered for by numerous museums, and there are plenty of parks and gardens such as the Paul Mistral, Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Garden) and Île Verte. Local restaurants serve specialities including rich Gratin Dauphinois and Ravioles du Dauphiné, and dishes made with walnuts and the local blue cheese. Murçon is a popular aniseed-flavoured pork sausage. Chartreuse liqueur is a lethal but legendary apéritif, enjoyed on its own or in a cocktail.

Getting to Grenoble is easy from the UK, with direct flights from several airports. What are you waiting for?

WHAT TO SEE IN GRENOBLE

• A bird’s eye view of Grenoble and Mont-Blanc from France’s first urban cable car
Street art: frescoes, collages, stencil work, canvas art and anamorphoses
The first urban eco-district to be created in France
• The Musée de Grenoble, a modern art museum featuring Picasso, Matisse and Gauguin
• The Domain de Vizille museum dedicated to the French Revolution

WHAT TO DO IN GRENOBLE

• Scale the urban via ferrata trail on the slopes of the Bastille
• Relax at the legendary thermal baths of Uriage in their lush setting
• TWitness the spectacle of the Mountain Film Festival
Explore the city by bike, along the riverbanks and through the parks and gardens
Ski in Le-Sappey-en Chartreuse, just half an hour from the city centre

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK IN GRENOBLE

Gratin Dauphinois: an indulgent dish with potatoes, cream and a secret ingredient
Ravioles du Dauphiné: ravioli stuffed with local cheese
Vercors-Sassenage, a blue-veined cow’s-milk cheese
• Three varieties of Grenoble walnuts: Franquette, Mayette and Parisienne
• Dover sole with Sauce Grenoble, made with browned butter, lemon and capers
Craft beers brewed by Brasserie Artisanale du Dauphiné or Brasserie des Cuves

WHAT TO BRING BACK FROM GRENOBLE

Chartreuse Liqueur, dating back to 1605
Walnut specialities including sweets, cakes, oils and wine
Locally-made gloves decorated with city icons
• A T-shirt of the city’s street art
• A carabiner mug for your hikes

Grenoble in the French Alps