1. A city in the heart of the mountains
"At the end of every street, a mountain". Born in Grenoble, the French writer Stendhal, author of the novel The Red and the Black, summed up the city in a few words. Here, the mountain is in the spotlight from every window, every balcony. The Chartreuse to the north, the Vercors to the west, and the Belledonne massif to the south: the peaks are everywhere you look. The city is surrounded by forts that dominate it from the surrounding hills, notably the Fort de la Bastille, which overlooks the Isère and the pretty, colourful facades of the Saint-Laurent district, and the Fort Saint-Eynard, from which one can admire a 360° view of the Alpine city and its surroundings. Host city of the 1968 Winter Olympic Games, Grenoble is less than an hour away from many winter sports resorts. Here, winter and summer alike, the mountains run in the veins! It is no coincidence that the first urban cable car in France, the famous "bubbles" that climb the hill of the Bastille, was built in 1934: the people of Grenoble always have an eye for the summits!
2. A green city, really green
Listen: it's a blue tit! In the heart of Grenoble, passerines sing at every street corner. From the city's Garden, to the lawns adorned with flamboyant rosebushes, to the wilder Ile Verte park, via the banks of the Isère, nature is omnipresent and forms large islands of greenery, which are very pleasant to breathe in the heart of this vibrant metropolis. Look up there: a squirrel crosses the road from the treetops, so nimble on the rope stretched for this purpose! With more than 5,000 trees planted in recent years, numerous developments that promote biodiversity, and brand new eco-neighbourhoods and others that set the standard (France's first eco-neighbourhood was inaugurated in 2009 in the former Bonne barracks), Grenoble is one of the greenest cities in the country.
3. A city by bike
Surrounded by mountains, in the middle of a valley, Grenoble is one of the flattest cities in France. With 450 km of cycle paths throughout the agglomeration, it is a cyclist's paradise! For almost 20 years now, the city has had a system of short-term rental bicycles called Mvélo+, which attracts students and tourists alike. These yellow bicycles, which can be found everywhere in the city, can be rented by the day (€3) or by the month (€25). On the main avenues, in the narrow streets of the historic centre, on the quays or in the parks, there are plenty of facilities for cyclists to ride in complete peace: the bicycle really does have its place in traffic. Reassuring!
With 64,000 students and over 25,000 researchers, Grenoble has always been a city of innovation! On the green side, the city is no exception. A vegan restaurant (the Locafé), a collaborative supermarket (the Eléfan), a solidarity café that works with unsold food (the Bouillon), a rooftop urban farm (the Bar Radis, from September 2022), and local crafts are all in the spotlight. Like Növem, a small local cosmetics brand that uses the famous Grenoble Walnut (one of the first fruit-producing AOCs recognised in France, since 1938), or the Ganterie Lesdiguières, which has kept alive a Grenoble know-how since 1885, the manufacture of kid skin gloves. It's not vegan, but it's traditional (100% local)! Or find another more sustainable know-how?
5. A sporty city
In winter, you can see them on skis, fresh from the surrounding winter sports resorts. In summer, they are on ropes, going on via ferrata or climbing cliffs. For the people of Grenoble, outdoor sports is a way of life! All year round, the Bastille hill sees runners who set off to tackle its 214-metre difference in height through the Guy Pape park, along a shady path dotted with flights of stairs. You reach the arrival station of the "bubbles", from where you can admire the panorama of the Vercors and Belledonne while catching your breath. Both indoors and outdoors (the first climbing gym in France was built here in 1995!), Grenoble is a city on the move!