Grenoble city guide, where to eat, drink, shop and stay in France’s ‘capital of the Alps’

Encircled by three regional parks (Vercors, Chartreuse, and Belledonne), Grenoble has received the geographical lottery. Sarcastically, that implies that town typically passes below the radar, as guests headed for the mountains sprint via with eyes skyward.

Because of this, this French metropolis is disarmingly unpretentious, with a centre the place college students rub shoulders with skiers in craft breweries; businessmen and mud-spattered hikers frequent the identical wine bars; and the place you can begin the day paragliding over spires and end it dancing in sultry jazz bars.

In-built levels, Grenoble’s a patchwork of a metropolis – designed to be lived in, not merely checked out.

What to do

Get an adrenaline rush

The closest piste to Grenoble (Col de Porte) is below 20km from town centre, however thrill-seekers don’t even want to go away town to get a repair. It’s additionally residence to France’s first ever city by way of ferrata climbing route, perched on the craggy cliff by the Nineteenth-century Bastille Fortress – there’s a monkey bridge and mountaineering, all with town under your ft (entry free when unguided).

Grenoble’s views aren’t simply reserved for daredevils, although. Climb as much as the Bastille (roughly an hour from the centre of city) to take pleasure in a panorama over your complete metropolis. On the foot of the cobbled walkway, don’t miss the ornate Fontaine du Lion, displaying an immense stone lion – representing Grenoble – devouring a bronze serpent, symbolising the Isère River that flows via town. Take the cable automotive to descend (a method, €6, return €9). For an actual leg stretch, hike the path from St Nizier-du-Moucherotte to the summit of Le Moucherotte (10km there and again) at a peak of simply over 2,000m. On a very good day, town’s surrounding parks and Mont Blanc are clearly seen from the highest.

(©Grenoble-Alpes-Métropole/Lucas Frangella )

Take a historical past lesson

The Musée de Grenoble has a group of some 800 works within the everlasting exhibition and spans a timeline from Historic Egypt to the current day. The Twentieth-century artwork assortment is especially spectacular, together with Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso, and Warhol (10am–6.30pm, each day besides Tuesdays, €8).

To study in regards to the area’s rural historical past and Grenoble’s relationship with the Alps, go to the Musée Dauphinois, with a everlasting exhibition on mountain life and two short-term exhibitions on rotation (each day besides Tuesdays, free entry). The Grenoblois have at all times been on the forefront of resistance actions, from the French Revolution to resistance throughout WW2. To grasp Grenoble’s significance in the course of the French Revolution, head to Domaine de Vizille, a château set in landscaped gardens that’s half an hour by bus from town centre, to discover the Musée de la Révolution française (open each day besides Tuesdays, free entry).

The place to remain

For a metropolis with a lot soul, lodging in Grenoble could be bland, practical, and dominated by worldwide chains. A number of exceptions: Artwork Deco resort 1924 has authentic mosaic flooring within the foyer and ethereal rooms; all with bathtubs. Fork out for the suites which had been as soon as the chambres de bonne (maids’ rooms), some have wonderful views of Vercors Regional Park. Doubles from €90, B&B.

Maison Barbillon is a characterful townhouse close to the station. There’s complimentary espresso 24/7 that can assist you to maintain up with Grenoble’s partying pupil inhabitants and a well-stocked lending library. Doubles from €90, B&B.

Look previous the multi-storey automotive park façade of Le Hüb: as a youth hostel/self-catered flats/coworking house, it’s town’s greatest price range lodging. Dormitory beds are available single/double pods. Residences are spacious and geared up with cooking amenities. There’s a bar and a good-sized backyard, however no communal kitchen. From €39 for a single pod in a dormitory, room solely, or €104 per night time for a double self-catered condo.

Excessive-end travellers have to look past town centre. Château de la Commanderie is probably the most luxurious choice near Grenoble (10 minutes by automotive), with fairy-tale turrets, an outside heated pool, and in depth gardens. Doubles from €166, B&B.

(Anna Richards)

The place to eat

In a rustic famend for its delicacies, it’s little shock that Grenoble has limitless alternatives to feast, however its inexpensive meals scene means you’ll be able to steadiness your urge for food along with your pockets. Conventional bistro Le Boeuf au Comptoir serves hearty French classics, together with all-you-can-eat frogs’ legs, and Le Rousseau has a prolonged wine menu and an exceptionally good three-course set menu (one meat and one fish dish, no vegetarian choices). The true jewel in Grenoble’s bistro crown, although, is Et Si, a comfy restaurant eclectically adorned with classic typewriters and gilded mirrors, a small menu of some 5 – 6 dishes (with vegetarian choices), and swift, pleasant service.

Pair a ceramics workshop at Atelier Forma with its Saturday brunch, which is able to depart you full all day. For lighter choices, Café Myrӧ serves granola bowls, vegan pancakes, and one of the best espresso within the metropolis. Vegetarians ought to head to Locafé, an natural, vegan restaurant whose meals are (virtually) too fairly to eat. La Chapelle, a restaurant in a Nineteenth-century church, serves worldwide delicacies. Cheese-lovers: one of the best fondue on the town is at Le Montagnard. If self-catering, purchase creamy wheels of Saint-Félicien and Saint-Marcellin from the Les Halles Sainte-Claire coated market – it’s open each day aside from Mondays.

The place to drink

Grenoble’s bars are busy day-after-day of the week, unsurprisingly for a metropolis with the most important pupil inhabitants exterior Paris. The beer scene is especially good. Brasserie Neptune brews all its personal beers on website and has eight on draught at a time, with idiosyncratic tasting notes together with “toast” and “coriander”. The meals can also be tasty.

Le Café de la Place Championnet is a day-to-night joint equally satisfying for morning espresso and after-work beers, within the coronary heart of Grenoble’s artsiest, coolest quartier. Wine-lovers head to Le Zinc, a bar with a wine menu that would maintain you going for years, not to mention days (there are over 1,000 to strive). For late-night cocktails, the Blind Pig attracts a younger crowd, with moody lighting, pot vegetation, and gin. Attempt cocktails that embody chartreuse, a potent natural liquor so inexperienced it could make the Depraved Witch of the West look jaundiced. Its secret recipe is brewed by monks at a close-by monastery.

La Soupe aux Choux (actually, ‘cabbage soup’) is a energetic jazz bar open till midnight. After this, dance the night time away at La Belle Électrique or La Bobine, cultural areas with bars, eating places, and impossibly various reside music.

The place to buy

The entire antiques quartier is a veritable treasure trove of second-hand retailers and little bookstores. Alma Gradual Idea has upcycled clothes and handmade jewelry at affordable costs. For excellent regional cheeses, Fromagerie les Alpages on Rue de Strasbourg has a wonderful choice, and handily, there’s a well-stocked wine store, Le Vin des Alpes, only a few doorways down.

Grenoble was as soon as France’s glovemaking capital – a commerce now virtually extinct. Gant Lesdiguières is now the only artisan within the metropolis, with an proprietor that has been making child gloves since he was 14. For bibliophiles and revolutionaries, Grenoble’s anarchist bookshop Antigone is open on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons. It additionally hosts writer talks.

Architectural spotlight

It’s a carpark and storage (sure, actually!). The inverted spiral Hélicoïdal Storage is free to go to, and nonetheless in use. Motorists finishing up repairs on the roof are seemingly oblivious to the architectural splendour of their storage and the snow-capped mountains behind it.

Storage Helicoidal, Grenoble

(Nils Louna)

Nuts and bolts

What foreign money do I would like?


What language do they communicate?


Ought to I tip?

In the event you’d prefer to, however tipping isn’t customary in France.

How ought to I get round?

Grenoble’s metropolis centre may be very compact, so on foot is greatest. Mvélo+, town’s bike rental system, permits customers to hire a shiny yellow bike for a day, every week, and even a number of months or a 12 months, with all upkeep charges included. Fortuitously, aside from Bastille, town is flatter than a crêpe.

For something additional afield, or if the climate isn’t in your facet, the tram community is inexpensive and environment friendly (€1.70 a journey). Depart the automotive at residence – it’s not within the spirit of issues, since Grenoble is Europe’s newly-crowned inexperienced capital, and the one-way system and parking are infernal.

What’s one of the best view?

From the cable automotive cabins working between town centre and Bastille.

Insider tip?

Bought 10 minutes to kill? Look out for stands by Quick Édition, merchandising machines which as a substitute of promoting chocolate bars and fizzy drinks churn out brief tales and comedian strips. They’re now discovered all around the world, however the very first was in Grenoble.

Getting there

Attempting to fly much less?

Catch the Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord, and take the Metro to Gare de Lyon. From there it’s three hours by prepare to Grenoble.

Wonderful with flying?

Throughout ski season (December–April), direct flights run between London Gatwick and Grenoble Alpes Isère Airport. The remainder of the 12 months, the closest airport is Lyon-Saint Exupéry, an hour by both prepare or automotive from Grenoble’s metropolis centre.

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