Looking to try somewhere new for your next weekend away? Why not break away from the norm and explore alternative city-break destinations in south-eastern France? Grenoble is a young and dynamic city, where visitors will discover festivals filled with street art, electronic and nomad music, theatre, wine-making, gastronomy and mountain cinema. By night and day, each neighbourhood offers the possibility to discover a variety of exciting things to see and do. Grenoble is nestled in a unique natural setting, with three mountain chains all around, each like a natural playground. What could be easier than climbing up a bit to take in the surrounding scenery? Enjoy the panoramic view of the mountains, go for a hike, take a bike ride...or simply sit still and watch the light as it changes with the hours, days, and seasons.
Grenoble’s close proximity to nature is one of the city’s most unique qualities. Dotted all around, you’ll find green spaces that are perfect for outdoor activities and tranquil contemplation. Nature reserves can be easily reached by foot or public transportation. As the locals say – ‘you can take the Grenoblois away from nature, but you can’t take a love of nature out of the Grenoblois’. Whether you’re travelling with friends, family, or alone, you’re free to explore new territories, relax in preserved nature, or rise to sporty challenges, it’s all there, in and around Grenoble, by foot, by bike, or by ski.
Grenoble has existed for more than 2000 years and as such, offers a rich cultural heritage. From the Gaulish village of Cularo in 43 BC, through to the early Christian times, the great works of Lesdiguières, or even the beginnings of the French Revolution; the history of the area is accessible to all through the thirty museums in the metropolis, including a dozen located in the historic centre of Grenoble.
The most famous of these is the Musée de Grenoble, a beautiful art museumestablished in 1798 and considered to be one of the most prestigious in Europe.
Operating since 1934, the site of the Bastille and its cable car is another major attraction in Grenoble, boasting a 360° panorama of the city and the mountains.
In the historic city-centre, at the corner of a street or on a small colourful square, you’ll find plenty of places to stop, relax and take a drink, or an “apéro” with wine, local beers and bites to eat…like a French “dolce vita”.
Grenoble may not be as famous as some regions of France when it comes to food, but the city boasts exceptional culinary treasures, showcased by big names in the culinary industry such as Christophe Aribert, the Michelin-starred chef of Les Terrasses d’Uriage. The city is overflowing with delicious restaurants run by creative and innovative young chefs. Their diverse recipes are edging their way into the list of traditional dishes, where the dauphinois potato gratin lines up next to ravioles pasta, murçon sausage and meat caillettes. Other famous products of the region— Vercors-Sassenage blue cheese, Grenoble walnuts, and Chartreuse liqueur—have dispersed local flavours well beyond French borders.
There’s a festival for every season in Grenoble. The city was the birthplace of many great names in painting, theatre, music, and dance, and continues to attract headline artists today. Big names as well as local rising stars in all areas of the arts make for a lively local cultural scene. All year long, it’s one festival after another (Cabaret Frappé, Grenoble Street-Art Fest, Rencontres du Cinéma de Montagne, Jour & Nuit, etc.), hosted in national arts venues as well as carefully selected original sites. Grenoble also made a name for itself in the 1960s, when it started putting up modern art installations in public areas. This practice continues today with street art – examples can be found throughout the city.
Hosted in June, the Grenoble Street Art Fest is Europe’s first festival to show off street art as a multidisciplinary artform. Expect giant and traditional frescoes, collages, stencil work, sculptures, artistic happenings, photography, canvas art, digital art, anamorphoses, natural street art, videos, and more. A good way to discover the streets of Grenoble, all year long, by foot or by bike, is by exploring the artworks located across the city.
With two national theatres - MC2 and the Hexagone, a host of concert cafés and association-run sites open to the public, Grenoble-Alpes Métropole is faithful to its reputation as an eclectic and alternative city.
In Grenoble, craftsmanship and commerce go way back. Wandering the streets of the city centre, you move from one time period to another, from an antique shop to a hip boutique, from second hand furniture to fair trade clothes. As a cultural and sporty city, lifestyle and health shops are ubiquitous, as are elegant luxury brands. Not to mention the growing number of food shops, which just go to show that Grenoble is also a city where life is meant to be savoured.
In the Fromagerie des Alpages, in Grenoble, you’ll find Bernard Mure-Ravaud, World Champion Cheesemonger (Caseus Award) and Meilleur Ouvrier de France (France’s Top Trademan) in 2007.
Jean Strazzeri has been a master glove maker since 1964. In his workshop in Fontaine or in his boutique La Ganterie Lesdiguières at 10 rue Voltaire in Grenoble, he continues the Grenoble tradition of glove-making, more than two centuries since the business was first established.