Grenoble may not necessarily be the first must-see town popping into your head when planning a trip to France. Some of you might have never even heard about Grenoble, although it’s a beautiful town, embedded between the imposing Alps, located by the Isère River and surrounded with idyllic nature. It’s mainly known as a good spot for hiking and skiing (if you expect this article to be about skiing though, I have to disappoint you – I've actually never skied in my entire life). Since my boyfriend lives in Grenoble, I get to visit this underrated French town frequently and I fell in love with it the moment I admired the 360° view of the mountains for the first time. Anyone who’s planning a trip to the south-east of France and wants to visit a French town off the beaten track, read on to plan a perfect day in Grenoble!
One of my highlights in Grenoble is the Bastille from the 19th century, located on a hill in 264 meters height, overviewing the entire city. It’s the perfect track for a short hike during the day, starting by the Isère River, leading through beautiful paths up the hill – but don’t worry, it’s not too steep and takes you only about an hour to get up there. Once you've reached the Bastille you can enjoy the breathtaking view on the city and the mountains in the surroundings. There’s also the option of taking the futuristic looking cable car, also known as Les Bulles (French for bubbles) to get to the Bastille, if you don’t feel like hiking. You can either take the cable car one way for 5,60 EUR and then walk down by yourself, or buy a return ticket for 8,50 EUR. The cable car bubbles offer you a short, but beautiful little journey through the air, with the view on the city below you.
Whenever I’m visiting a new city, I always love to discover the local museums and art scene. I actually always research first on the best vegan food options and then on the coolest art museums, when doing a city trip (food and art pretty much sum up my travels). The Musée de Grenoble is architecturally very modern and holds a diverse collection of art from the Egyptian Antique, over the art from the 13th–18th century, until Modern Art, Contemporary Art and Graphics. Besides the permanent collections, there are always changing ehxibitions, and I was thrilled to visit the temporary expo "Picasso 1939-1945. In the heart of darkness" in collaboration with the Musée national Picasso in Paris. The expo showed one of the darkest periods in the life and work of the Spanish master and was absolutely fascinating! After hiking to the Bastille and feeding your soul with art, you might get hungry for a snack. For the vegetarians and vegans among you, I’d recommend trying the cute and organic L'Arbre à Thé, not far from the museum. The restaurant serves delicious pies, salads, dhal, vegetable terrine and incredible vegan desserts – please make sure to try the vegan Mousse au Chocolat... it’s mind blowing! L'Arbre à Thé is also a charming sewing café for those who want to craft their own clothes, which generates a creative and wonderfully quirky atmosphere!
The feature that fascinates me the most about Grenoble is its geographical location – wherever you look, you’ll get to see huge ranges of the Alps (including the Belledonne and Chartreuse), which contribute to the charm of the city. But also the history of Grenoble, dating back to 43 B.C., is quite impressive. As you stroll through the narrow lanes of the Old Town, you’ll be able to spot beautiful architecture reflecting its 2000 year old history, like medieval buildings, crumbling Roman walls and the famous St. Andrew’s Church. You’ll also find loads of squares and marketplaces, like Place Grenette, one of the city’s main squares since the 17th century or the small Place aux Herbes, where a farmer’s market is held every day of the week, except on Mondays. Don’t miss out on having a cup of coffee at the iconic Café de la Table Ronde, the second-oldest café in France, built in 1739.
Normal people would probably recommend a nice little bar to end your perfect day in Grenoble. I however recommend watching an independent film in the cute underground movie theatre La Nef. This cinema makes you feel like back in the 50’s and it’s so tiny that you cannot even buy popcorn (bring your own snacks, guys). I personally adore going to those lovely movie theatres, watching inspiring movies that will keep my mind pondering for hours after the movie ended. And somehow, the atmosphere in such small movie theatres like La Nef makes the film experience even more intense. If you still feel like grabbing a drink after a good movie night, I’d rather recommend buying a nice red wine (when in doubt, always go for Côtes du Rhône) and sit by the Isère River or at the Jardin de Ville.
For some, a perfect day in Grenoble can be the simple joy of hiking through nature or skiing in the mountains (for y’all winter sports lovers). For me, a perfect day in Grenoble is a mix of hiking, art, good food and culture... and obviously some red wine. I mean, it’s France. Santé!
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