Grenoble; Culture in the Mountains

Arriving in a destination on a cold, wet December evening can be enough to dampen the enthusiasm of any traveller. This can be especially frustrating in a city such as Grenoble which located in the Rhône Alpes region of France is surrounded by stunning, but invisible mountains. Built in a glacial valley on the confluence of the rivers Isère and Drac, it is an extremely picturesque city, especially from the high point of La Bastille.

Outside the Museum of Grenoble in the Rhône Alpes region of France on Mallory on Travel adventure photography Iain Mallory-300-19

Stormy clouds in Grenoble

On a clear day after the three minute ride in the bubble like cable cars it is possible to see the highest mountain in Europe; Mont Blanc so well worth the investment in time. There are multiple levels which provide breath-taking views over the city and the higher summits which dominate the landscape. They appear especially dramatic when the peaks are poking through low clouds, the mountain landscape at it’s majestic best.

Grenoble in the Rhône Alpes region of France on Mallory on Travel adventure photography Iain Mallory-300-28

Grenoble

There are few more spectacular scenes than snow covered peaks protruding through a blanket of cloud, appearing like sugar cones piercing a thick bed of candy floss. If the ride up has worked up an appetite there is a restaurant to try some of the regions famous cuisine. However enjoying a coffee on the terrace and soaking up the views is pleasant enough if the weather is favourable.

Cable car to La Bastille in Grenoble in the Rhône Alpes region of France on Mallory on Travel adventure photography Iain Mallory-300-26

Bubble cable cars from La Bastille

Moving around can be quite a challenge if the steps have not been cleared of snow they soon become icy and slippery. Ascending the steps requires care but it can take several minutes to just to climb down a few steps. Ropes and crampons would not have been out of place and it was surprising that nobody actually landed on their backside.

Cable car to La Bastille in Grenoble in the Rhône Alpes region of France on Mallory on Travel adventure photography Iain Mallory-300-46

360 degree views over Grenoble

There are two ski resorts within a short distance of Grenoble; Autrans and Chamrousse and it is also the gateway to the southern Alps. The city has the largest population of the alpine region and is known by the French as the “capital of the Alps”. Although located at a low altitude and not completely snow sure it is still a suitable option for skiers and other snowsport enthusiasts.

The city has a number of museums, art galleries, a single covered and several open markets including a flea market. It is a centre for French cuisine so there are excellent restaurants and bars making it perfect for those not keen on snowsports or mountain activities. There are plenty of options to occupy the non-skier whilst their partner or friends are on the piste……. that was piste!

Browsing the usual style of museum or art gallery is not my style, I prefer more eclectic exhibitions, anthropological or human history and natural science museums. However Grenoble seems to have something for most people’s taste. The Musée de Grenoble has contemporary and traditional art exhibits with both temporary and permanent displays. The Magasin-Centre National D’Art Contemporain provides a constantly changing showcase of experimental art by partially established artists in a variety of genre. Only one exhibitor is displayed at a time for a three month period with subjects ranging from video to modern sculpture.

Flying the flag on La Bastille in the alpine city of Grenoble in the French Rhône Alpes  on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Flying the flag over alpine Grenoble

The Musée de Gagnon is an intimate little converted apartment of the region’s most important writer/artist Stendahl. It is an eclectic collection of paintings, writing, books and natural history spread around four rooms. There is also the Musée Archéologique a site which provides an contemporary view of a historical site. There are several skeletons still in place and this can be a little shocking.

Views from La Bastille over Grenoble and the River Isère in the Rhône Alpes region of France on Mallory on Travel adventure photography Iain Mallory-300-32

Grenoble; Alpine city

Contemporary art in the Museum of Grenoble and the Rhône Alpes region of France on Mallory on Travel adventure photography Iain Mallory-300-52

Contemporary art in the Musée of Grenoble

Those that get excited browsing markets have a choice of three dotted around the squares, selling fresh produce typical of French markets. On the first Sunday of the month there is also a flea market where locals come to make a little cash selling their unwanted bric-a-brac. This is one kind of retail therapy even I appreciate as they always make great photography subjects and usually sell fresh local produce.

Alpine Grenoble and the in the Rhône Alpes region of France on Mallory on Travel adventure photography Iain Mallory-300-51

Alpine Grenoble

In common with any mountain town the weather in Grenoble can be changeable. Although it maybe wet and cold one moment, the following day or even afternoon the clouds will drift away and those majestic peaks will be revealed once more. It is a pretty place with the Isère snaking it’s way through the city so if the weather isn’t initially kind, persevere, it’ll soon change.

Alpine park and bandstand in Grenoble in the Rhône Alpes region of France on Mallory on Travel adventure photography Iain Mallory-300-47

A bandstand in an alpine park

In the short time I visited the weather was both miserable and benign, it remained cold throughout but at least the views improved. I’m already looking forward to a swift return to sample some of those snowsports.

La Bastille overlooking Grenoble in the Rhône Alpes region of France on Mallory on Travel adventure photography Iain Mallory-300-50

Looking up towards La Bastille

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Comments 9

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      Iain

      Thanks Rob it is a lovely city, glad you enjoyed following the trip on instagram, shared some cheese pics on the Lyon hall post to make you even more envious 😉

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      Iain

      Thank you Jennifer and great that you enjoyed following the trip. It is even more gratifying that it has inspired you to visit next year, I am sure you will enjoy the visit.

  1. Rachel

    Your lovely post brought back some wonderful memories of the 4 weeks I spent there housesitting last Autumn. Grenoble is my favourite city in Europe, I love it. The views from the Bastille are so fantastic, the city in one direction, Mont Blanc in another. I loved walking up {only once took the Bulles!}. The Lion and Serpent fountain at the bottom is one of my favourite spots, right down by the river. I can’t wait to return one day.

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      Iain

      Thank you Rachel I can understand why you are so keen on Grenoble it is a great city and those views from La Bastille really are breath-taking. I’d quite like to have the time to take a walk up, the Bulles is fun but the hike would be better still.

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