City Guide: Grenoble
At the beginning of the 2017 winter period we decided to do a little trip to Grenoble in the South-East of France near the Alps. We were lucky enough to have picked a somewhat snowy weekend, so despite it being cold and grey we also got to see snow for the very first time in France.
The train ride from Paris took a good three hours, because for half of the journey the train was only allowed to drive very slowly – but the perks were the snowy landscape we got to enjoy. It was actually even snowier on the way than it was in Grenoble itself.
In this city guide I will introduce you to some of the major sites of Grenoble and share with you my impressions of the city.
Parc Paul Mistral and Stade des Alpes in Grenoble
As we stayed in the Park Hotel Grenoble MGallery by Parc Paul Mistral, we started our walking tour through the city here. The park itself didn’t seem very spectacular in winter and also a little run-down.
There is small pond and the big stadium. This was opened in 2008 and is mainly used by the football team Grenoble Foot 38.
Grenobles’ Notre Dame Cathedral
From the football stadium and the park, we walked along the outskirts of the city centre through a more residential area. Before making our way to river Isère we passed Notre Dame Cathedral.
The Cathedral has undergone a series of re-developments throughout the centuries but was given back its Roman façade in 1990 when Berruyers additions were reversed. In my opinion the cathedral looks fairly plain, nothing like Paris Notre Dame at all.
After our short visit of the cathedral we went to the river from where you can enjoy beautiful views of the mountain and the famous fort.
Grenoble Place du Tribunal
We continued our way a little along the river and then turned towards the Place du Tribunal, where you can also find the Collégiale Saint-André, which we briefly entered to warm up a little, as well as the Dauphinoise parliament.
When we arrived there in the early afternoon we still saw some stalls of a little market being stowed away – on a sunnier and warmer day I can thus imagine this square to be an ideal spot for a little stroll over a French market.
Fort of Grenoble and cable-car
From the Place du Tribunal we continued walking to the stop of the cable-car. You can also hike up the mountain to reach the fort, but especially when its snowy I wouldn’t recommend that. Plus taking the cable-car is very quick and efficient – as long as there are no tourists.
After a short ride up to the mountain you reach the historic fort that once played an important role in the defensive system. There’s some infrastructure up there like a restaurant and souvenir shop, but most outlets are closed during the winter and not everything is accessible by walking. While we enjoyed a magnificent view from the snowy mountain, I am sure it is even more beautiful in summer on a clear day where you can easily explore the fort.
Nevertheless, we very much enjoyed our little journey up the mountain and had some hot drinks to warm up before continuing our walking tour.
Verdun Square in Grenoble
After coming back down from the fort, we walked through Grenoble’s City Garden, passed through the city centre along a few churches and nice buildings to the Verdun Square.
This square is probably among the most interesting spots architecturally that you will find in Grenoble.
The Préfecture de l’Ilsère, for instance, is truly beautiful.
Porte de France in Grenoble
Another architectural highlight can be found on the other side of the river, but it is actually a little hidden.
After passing the Porte de France in Grenoble you can follow the street to walk towards the Casamaures, a historic villa built in an oriental style. Visits are only possible as part of guided tours at special times.
Our overall impression of Grenoble
Grenoble is situated in a beautiful location among the mountains, but it lacks some of the charm that we have encountered in many other French cities. While there are some interesting museums and sites to visit, I think the city’s perks are the views as well as the possibility to do hiking tours around to enjoy the nature, landscape and mountains.