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Grenoble likes to profile itself as the Capital of the Alps. Although the Swiss and the Austrians probably think differently, at least the French consider it the gateway to this mountain range. Grenoble is situated near the confluence of two rivers – the Isère and the Drac – and is enclosed by mountains: The Chartreuse to the north, the Vercors to the south and the west, and the mountain range of the Belledonne to the east.
One of the city's most popular attractions is the Bastille Hill. The oldest remnants of this fort date back to the Middle Ages, but the fortress was further expanded in later centuries, with for example a semi-underground corridor network. Obviously, it provides a beautiful view of the surrounding area. On a clear day, you can even see the Mont Blanc. The journey itself also passes through a beautiful area. If you think the trip is too tiring, you can also take the cable cars to the Bastille. The egg-shaped cabins are called 'Les Bulles' by the locals.
The Musée de Grenoble on the Isère riverbank contains a wealth of artworks, both from old masters as well as modern artists. It also houses a section with Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. Next to the museum lies the Parc Albert Michallon, where modern statues are exhibited.
The Musée de l'Ancien Évêché is housed in the former Bishop's palace on the Place Notre Dame. It provides an interesting overview of the region's and the city's history from prehistoric times to the present day. In the museum's basement you can view remnants from Roman city walls and a baptistery from the fourth century. More ancient relics can be found in the Musée Archéologique on the Place Saint-Laurent.
The Église du Sacré Coeur is no longer used as a place of worship. Inside this basilica you can find murals by the religious artist Marie Adomi Israël. She decorated the church with large, colorful paintings.
The Lycée Stendhal used to be a Jesuit college. It houses the world's largest sundial, a fresco of no less than 100 square meters, made by Father Bonfa and his pupils in 1673. This Horloge Solaire in the stairwell still indicates the correct time. The famous writer Stendhal, after whom the Lycée was named, is one of Grenoble's best-known sons. He was born in the city in 1783 and you can see an overview of his life and work in the Musée de Stendhal.
At the end of the eighteenth century, the simple mailman Ferdinand Cheval had a dream: He wanted to build his own castle. He made his dream come true by building the Palais Idéal stone by stone over a period of 33 years. It is an odd mixture of styles, but definitely intriguing. Picasso called Cheval 'a great artist'. Palais Idéal is situated in Hauterives, west of Grenoble.
A good 15 kilometers from Grenoble, in Saint-George-de-Commiers, you can take Le Petit Train de la Mure. The train ride in historic carriages from the 1930s passes over viaducts and through tunnels. Along the way, you have nice views of the spectacular scenery of the Drac Valley and the dam near Monteynard.
It is with good reason that Grenoble calls itself the gateway to the Alps. The city is a great starting point for activities in the mountains: From hiking trips to mountain climbing to paragliding. The Maison de la Montagne has detailed maps available to help you plan your trips in the surrounding area. For short walks nearby, the Tourist Office has a free map available, the Carte des Sentiers Sipavag.
Through roads surround the center, which makes it easy to travel around in your rental car. If you want to park in the center, we recommend using one of the parking garages. Some parking lots north of the Boulevards Vallier, Foch and Joffre provide free parking. There are also P+R areas on the outskirts of Grenoble, where you can park your car and continue your journey by public transportation.
The small Aéroport Grenoble Isère is located a good 40 kilometers northwest of the city and is mainly used by budget airlines. You can easily reach the airport by rental car via freeway A48.