For many people, the city of Grenoble in France is just somewhere that you fly in and out of on a ski holiday. With Grenoble Isère Airport just a few hours away away from major resorts such as Val Thorens, and somewhat questionably advertising itself as the 'Capital of the Alps' - as if a city is why people flock to this beautiful mountain range - it is frequently overlooked as a destination in its own right. But in fact, Grenoble has a lot to offer: a hub for culture and science, it is also delightfully scenic, with a colourful old town and good links to the natural wonders nearby, as well as providing a generous helping of cafes and restaurants. In other words, it's the perfect base, whatever you're into.
To do in Grenoble
- Ride the 'bubble' cable car up to La Bastille: Hop aboard the cable car to the fortress atop a hill, La Bastille. Built in the early-mid 1800s, it was designed to protect Grenoble from an attack over the mountains, but today offers beautiful views over the city. It's from up here that you really notice how flat the town is - this is due to the fact that it's built on the floor of what once was a huge lake Alternatively, you could the hike up to the top which takes around 30 minutes.
- Visit the museums: Grenoble offers a healthy selection of museums, including the Archeological Museum, the Dauphiné Museum, and another detailing the German occupation of the city during WW2 (Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation à Grenoble). Admission to many of the museums in the city is free. The Musee de Grenoble is also worth a visit and contains examples of ancient, modern and contemporary works, by iconic masters including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.
- Spend a day in the national parks: Just because you're here to see Grenoble it doesn't mean you can't still enjoy the surrounding areas too. Spend the day hiking or climbing in one of the many national parks that surround the city, then head back to your hotel and soothe your aching limbs with a long hot bath and a large glass of wine.
Eat and drink
If there's one thing to know about Grenoble it is that you'll never be short of a decent meal, because with hundreds upon hundreds of excellent restaurants, cafes and bars, all tastes and budgets will be catered for. Among the highlights are Brasserie Solstice, with its local artisan beers and flavoursome cheese selection, and (for those with a little more to spend) La Table Du 20, which dishes up high-quality French cuisine