"Grenoble, capital of the French Alps" Top 5 Page for this destination Grenoble by JLBG

Grenoble Travel Guide: 351 reviews and 721 photos

Where, in France, is there both a “Metro” and a “Bastille” ? To help you I can add that it is where the French Revolution began. Actually, may be that won't help that much but mislead you !

I bet you will for sure think it cannot be anywhere than in Paris but you will be wrong. It is in Grenoble ! Amazing, isn't it ? The difference is that in Grenoble, you will be in the Metro but will never see it, you will travel in the Metro by tramway and bus and that the Bastille is not down but up !!?? In fact the Bastille is a mountain right above the town, crowned by a Vauban build fortress and the Metro is the acronym for the “Communauté d'agglomération de Grenoble-Alpes Métropole”. Grenoble itself has only 180,000 inhabitants while its conurbation reaches 5-600,000. Most of this conurbation is administered by the Metro, which for example runs the public transportation system with a fast and efficient network of tramways and busses. What I will write on Grenoble, applies in fact to the whole Metro area. During the Revolution as Grenoble had "noble" in its name and though the name was coming from Gratianopolis and had nothing to do with the Nobles, the name was changed into Grelibre (Grefree !) which lasted only a few years and soon it took its previous name.

The logo of the Metro (appearing at the bottom of the picture if you enlarge it) is a bird that mimics the shape of the Y drawn by the map of the urban agglomeration. Compare with the map on next picture.

Presentation borough from the official web site of La Metro

Commonly known as La Metro, Grenoble Alpes Métropole, is the urban agglomeration making up the Grenoble community. The 27 member communes work together, combining their efforts in matters of development, the environment and transportation.
Grenoble has the greatest number of research scientists outside Paris. To encourage research and economic worlds to work together, La Metro has a busy role developing local activities relating to biotechnology and digital technology. To develop the area's economic infrastructure, La Metro has set up a high performance telecommunication network : Metronet.
The Grenoble community is in an exceptional location in the heart of Rhone-Alpes.
Sports, leisure, culture, relaxation… life is good in the Grenoble urban agglomeration, leisure facilities include a leisure park, golf courses,... Farming is an integral part of the urban environment and remains closely linked to urban development with large areas of countryside dividing up the urban areas.
Where the environment is concerned, La Metro is in charge of sanitary drainage, processing household refuse and monitoring air quality. To improve the quality of urban life, La Metro attaches particular importance to public transport.

Grenoble, capital of the French Alps is the largest urban area in the French Alps, boasts a unique mountain setting, and through the centuries has made its mark as a pioneering city open to the world. Out of this tremendous human melting-pot has emerged an economy that draws its strength from close ties between industry, university and research. Grenoble is the leading research centre in France outside the Paris area.

A strategic position in Europe :
50 minutes from Lyon
1 hour 30 minutes from Geneva
2 hours from Turin
3 hours from Paris by TGV high-speed train
Close to three international airports (Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Geneva-Cointrin and Grenoble-St-Etienne-de-St-Geoirs)

Grenoble is a very pleasant city to live in. It has developed during the past 50 years, mainly around its universities, now mainly located in St Martin d’Hères (look at my page). Research developed in these Universities have given birth to a dense network of hi-tech industries. Grenoble is very cosmopolitan, with a great number of foreign students (in France, second to Paris) and many foreign scientists working in one of the international research facilities hosted by Grenoble. Since 1987, the Lycée Stendhal runs 4 international sections (German, English, Italian and Spanish) for French and foreign pupils, especially for children whose parents are working in one of the main Research Institutes (ILL [Institut Laüe-Langevin], ESRF [European Synchrotron Radiation Facility], etc…). Teachers from 7 different countries, children from more than 40 countries, with more than 30 mother tongues, makes it a really international Lycée.

A large number of the population of the conurbation, estimated 60 to 150,000, is of Italian origin. Grenoble city is twined with Corato, (Puglie), a city which, from 1920 to 1970, has brought many immigrants to Grenoble. In the “quartier Saint Laurent” more than 20 pizzerias are open side by side (see my “restaurants” tip), which always amazes our Italian visitors. An Italian speaking radio is broadcasting from Grenoble for this population, mainly in Italian but also in dialects.

It is also twined with Essen (Germany), Catane (Italy), Innsbruck (Austria), Kaunas (Lithunia) and Pecs (Hungary).

Though Grenoble is the capital of the French Alps, it is not high in elevation (214m) and is one of the flattest large cities in France : it is built at the confluent of rivers Isère and Drac, on a thick mantle of sediments. As Grenoble-born Stendhal wrote : “there is a mountain at every street end”, but they are just outside the town. Being so flat, the city can easily be flooded. That has not occurred recently but in 1219 a catastrophic flood given by the bursting of a natural dam on the Drac killed half of the population. In 1651, there was 1 meter of water in the city. Since then a whole set of levees (digues du Drac, digues de l’Isère) protect the town. However a millennial flood can possibly invade the city…

The historical heart of the town, Cularo for the Romans, now the "Quartier Saint Laurent", was build on a narrow strip of land between the Isère river and the Bastille mountain.

Is Grenoble itself worth the visit for a tourist ? Frankly speaking and though it has a lot to offer to visitors, I would answer "no". Grenoble is a city where it is pleasant to LIVE but which will disappoint those who have a few hours, even 1 or 2 days to visit.
Then, for whom is this page ?
Firstly, Grenoble can be an excellent hub to visit most of the Alps as day trips and it is the occasion to visit the city bit by bit.
Secondly, I wrote that Grenoble has a lot to offer to visitors. Visitors can be those who come to Grenoble to attend one of the many international meetings, fairs, etc… that take place here. But visitors can also be foreigners who come to Grenoble for a few month or a few years, either as students (see my Saint Martin d'Hères page) or as scientists in one of the international facilities. This is mainly for them that I have written this page and I hope it will help some of them. They should also visit the site from the Alliance Française that will give them a lot of practical informations

My Rhône-Alpes page presents the whole Rhône-Alpes region. I should not have written a page on Grenoble alone but on the “Communauté d'Agglomération de Grenoble-Alpes Métropole”, aka the "Metro" but such a destination does not exist on VT. To write a page on each of the cities that make the conurbation of Grenoble would have not been practical. I have chose to write four pages.

My Grenoble page presents both the Metro and what is really in the city of Grenoble.
Under "Things to do", you will mostly find the old city.
Under "General", you will find mostly what is new in the city.

If you have been interested by this page, you SHOULD visit the three following pages !

My Meylan page will present mostly Meylan but also neighboring cities of La Tronche, Corenc and Montbonnot-Saint-Martin.

My Saint-Martin-d'Hères page will not present the city of Saint-Martin-d'Hères but Grenoble Universities. Most of the Universities buildings and research centers are in the campus of Saint-Martin-d'Hères, but I will also include those that are in Grenoble (Polygone) or in La Tronche.

My Saint-Martin-le-Vinoux page will present what is called "la vallée de l'Or gris" (Grey gold valley) and some of the achievements linked to this Grey gold, even if they are in Grenoble.

This page and connected above given pages are still remaining under construction. Some photos are lacking or are not of the best quality. I will add new ones as soon as possible. I should not make many changes in the tips, except misspelling edition and may be to add a few new tips that I might have forgotten. My goal was that these pages would need as little editing as possible once launched.

  • Intro Updated Aug 28, 2011
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Reviews (161)

Comments (58)

  • Martman's Profile Photo
    Jul 27, 2014 at 7:38 PM

    Thanks, I really enjoyed your pages. Interesting, you suggest that Grenoble is not the best choice for a tourist. I am still curious to visit one day. To me it is a very interesting city! Merci!

  • missmarianne's Profile Photo
    Nov 2, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    your Grenoble page offers more helpful information than any other sites on the net, I shall go out and see the beautiful places around, merci!

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    May 28, 2011 at 10:22 PM

    Jean-Louis, you live in a wonderful place indeed! ><><><><

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    May 26, 2011 at 3:54 AM

    Hello Jean-Louis, I've just been looking at your new tips & updates to this page (since 2005). I once visited Grenoble years ago with friends who lived near Voiron. Also my younger son studied in Grenoble for a year as an exchange student from Edinburgh.

  • Maryimelda's Profile Photo
    Jun 13, 2010 at 5:54 AM

    I'll be back to finish reading these pages. Really lovely Jean-Louis.

  • wise23girl's Profile Photo
    Jun 6, 2010 at 3:34 PM


  • omidamini's Profile Photo
    May 21, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    Thanks for enough hotel information. I hope see you here .

  • travelgourmet's Profile Photo
    May 17, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    lol Jean-Louis. I was thinking "What the" with all the pizza locations. Whew! Got me on that one. Nice. Larry

  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo
    Sep 13, 2009 at 6:16 AM

    You live in a beautiful environment. Hopefully I'll manage to visit France before long. Researching family in western France.

  • icunme's Profile Photo
    Aug 25, 2009 at 2:13 AM

    Took the delux tour - not only outstanding photos and detail, but entertaining! Grazie, mille grazie, for all your work! Ciao, Carol <(•¿•)>

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