Having driven by Grenoble in France a couple of times before, we thought we should finally explore the area for our long weekend. Grenoble might not be as picturesque as the neighbourhood cities as Annecy or Colmar but if you are a mountain lover as we are then Grenoble is a worthy stop.
Grenoble is a small city located in a valley, at the foot of the French alps. It’s about 300km/3hours drive from Bern, a doable distance for our little Mirabelle to sit in the car before she become mad on us.
We had 4 days to spend and Grenoble was our base so we made day trips to the nearby area.
So what are there to see and do around Grenoble?
Click Here for tourist office.
In the city of Grenoble
1. Visit the Bastille
The fortress Bastille lays 476m up on a hill just by the Isere river. You can either walk up or take the cool looking cable car also known as Les Bulles. The last “bulle” down from the fortress is around midnight during summertime so you can stay there for a magnifique sunset and a great view of Grenoble. There is a restaurant up there if you get hungry!
For more detailed information click Here
2. Enjoy the parks
Grenoble has many childfriendly parks all around.
Mirabelle loved them all!
Park Paul Mistral is located next to Stade des Alpes, Hotel de Ville and Palais des Sports. This park is the biggest park and they have a lot of activities for families during the summer. Just a shame, as we have noticed many other places in Grenoble, this place looks a bit rundown and is in a poor state.
Jardin des plantes
Just a short walk across the Paul Mistral park, there is a small botanic garden for free with playground. Really worth a visit if you are nearby.
Jardin de Ville
Just behind the cable car up to the Bastille, you can find a small park with playgrounds. Worth stopping by for your kids to run around before or after the The Bastille.
Jardin de la Caserne de Bonne
This modern and lovely area has a mall and a park. Perfect for telling your husband “I will go shopping and you can look after the kids!”
3. The old garage Hélicoidal
This garage might not be something very special but if you are by the cable car and the Jardin de Ville, this spooky old garage is just a road behind. It takes 5 minutes to visit. You can take the elevator up and walk down.
We didn’t visit a single museum but there are a bunch of museums to choose from. Here are just some examples.
Musée de Grenoble
Musée de la Revolution francaise
Musée de la Chimie
Please click Here for all the museums.
As we are not a big fan of shopping I can’t really say if Grenoble is a fabulous city for shopping. You can find many boutiques and shops in the old town.
1. Go hiking
As I mention, Grenoble is surrounded by french alps. This is one of the main raison for why we choose to give Grenoble a chance. We managed to do three small hikes around Grenoble.
Hike to The lakes of alpe d’huez, 65km from Grenoble
This hike is child friendly but not stroller friendly. If you are not into much walking, there is a car parking just right by the Lake Besson. What we did was to park the car at Oz en Oisans station and took the cable car up to the Alpette. Our first lake was Lake Carrelet and then we walk to Lake Besson. From there we walk to the station Poutran and took the cable car down. If you would like to see all the 6 mountain lakes the walk is about 6km roundtrip with around 240m elevation gain. As it was raining, we didn’t have the opportunity to see them all. If you want more, you can even take the cable car to a station higher up to explore the mountain lakes Lake Blanche, Lake Superieur and Lake de l’Herpie.
If you like fishing, the Lake Besson is perfect for it!
More information click Here (only in french)
Hike to Pas de l’oeille in Villard-de-Lans, 40km from Grenoble
This beautiful hike is short, only 6km roundtrip, but technically difficult with a lot of climbing and some parts were very steep and rocky. Not child friendly!
I am having a hard time finding a site for this hike. But what we did was to park our car at Villar de lans and took the cable car up to Cote 2000. From the restaurant, keep left. Do not take the path that leads up but take a small and almost invisible path to the left. From there just follow the “flag” in green and white stripes that are often painted on rocks.
Ok, I don’t know how to explain this. I think our biggest mistake was to drive the “wrong side” of the lake. Please study carefully the map, I have pointed out of what side of the lake not to drive! It took us so much more time to drive to the parking lot, the starting point of the hike. The road was very narrow and very curvy, it was like driving on a walkway…very strange kind of road! It felt like it took us forever to arrive! But on the way back to Grenoble we drove on the other side and it was so much faster and so much nicer!
Our initial plan was to hike from the Drac suspension bridge to Ebron suspension bridge (look the map) that should take 4-5hours roundtrip. But it was sooo hot that we decided to walk down next to the bridge for a swim. From the car parking to the Drac bridge it’s about 2km. I really suggest you to do the opposite! Park the car at the Vignes car park and walk from there. Coming from Switzerland and have seen a lot of lakes this one didn’t impress us. Perhaps if we have walk further and explored some more??
More about hiking around the lake click Here
2. Take a stroll at the old village Mens, 60km from Grenoble
If you decide to visit the lake Monteynard then you will probably pass by the village Mens. It’s a cute little old village surrounded with mountains. It’s nice to take a stop for a quick walk around.
Where to stay
We found a small but clean and cosy attic studio in the center of Grenoble for 35€/night at Airbnb. We were very happy with it!
Are you a first-timer at Airbnb? Click Here to receive 40$ for your first booking!
Where to eat
There were so many places to eat but we only ate at the Vietnamese fast food next door. This tiny place is cheap, good and has a friendly staff (often only one and very busy). There were always full of people and the waiting line can sometimes be long. Just be there at 7pm sharp when they open and you are sure to have a table.
What else about Grenoble…
Art or Vandalism? Some of them I would call a piece of art.
Why don’t we have these city and environment friendly car for rent in Switzerland? For only 1€/15min!
In Grenoble, Christmas is all year around! The christmas lights were hanging all over the town….since how long I wonder? Do they still work?
Mirabelle loves to play at water fountains, especially when it’s very hot outside. But in Grenoble the water at the fountains are waste water so it is forbidden to play with the water.
Our first night in Grenoble David insisted that we park our car in a covered garage in a mall. It cost quite a lot but at least he doesn’t have to worry. Worry about what, I asked him. He said that if people here see a car with a Swiss car plate they will vandalise the car. Don’t be paranoid, I told him. David agreed to park the car one night next to our building. And look what we found the next morning. I can’t belive it! I told you so, David said. Did David staged this to prove me wrong? Hahaha he is totally not that kind of person.
Have you guys been to Grenoble or to the surrounding area? Did you like it?