#1 Thing to Do in Grenoble, France

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The #1 thing to do in Grenoble France

The #1 thing to do in Grenoble, France offers something for everyone.

Sight seeing? Check.  Adventure? Check. Culture? Check. Dining options? There’s literally something for everyone, no matter what your interests.

The Grenoble-Bastille cable car is the coolest cable car I've ever taken.

The #1 thing to do is taking the cable car to La Bastille! La Bastille is a fortress overlooking the entire city.  Its’ strategic location has played an important role in the city’s history for over 2000 years.  La Bastille was build in 1823 and is very well-preserved.  But getting there is half the fun! I’ve never seen a cable car like one in Grenoble.  They reminded me of Christmas ornaments, but perhaps I was inspired by the Grenoble Christmas Market that I had visited the night before.  Many visitors refer to them as bubbles.

Taking the Grenoble-Bastille cable car to La Bastille is the #1 thing to do in Grenoble, France.

Whatever you think they look like, the Grenoble-Bastille is the coolest cable car ride I’ve ever taken!

The 3-4 minute journey takes visitors up a vertical drop of 263 meters to the fortress which offers stunning views over Grenoble. Despite being surrounded by mountains, Grenoble has the distinction of being the flattest city in France!

Besides enjoying the views, there is actually a lot going on at the hill dubbed The Fortress Mountain.  Visitors can enjoy dinner at the upscale panoramic restaurant (reservations required) or relax in the more casual cafe, which also offers stunning views and outside seating.

In warmer months visitors can also test their fear of heights at the Acrobastille, which appears to be similar to the climbing obstacle course I did at Activo Park in Umbria.  I LOVE these type of adventures but doing it with the incredible views afforded by the The Fortress Mountain would be very special!  I’m coming back when it’s warmer to check it out.

La Bastille, the #1 thing to do (via the Grenoble-Bastille cable car) in Grenoble, France.

The Mandrin Caves were also closed when I was there, but sounded intriguing.  They consist of an underground passage near the entrance to the fort, which shows how expansive the defensive system was.

Then there’s the National Memorial to the Mountain Troops just a 30 minute walk from the fortress.

But what really caught my eye was the Chartreuse massif in the background of the fortress.  Hikes here can last anywhere from a couple of hours to several days. To say I’m intrigued would be putting it mildly.  I was already planning my return trip as I looked at it in awe.  I swear I could hear it say Laurel, climb me!  Strangely no one else heard this but me, maybe it was just the voices in my head.

Eyeing the Chartreuse massif in the hinterground of La Bastille, the #1 thing to do in Grenoble, France.

And if you really are looking for something special, you can even get married on The Fortress Mountain!

Me enjoying the views over Grenoble from La Bastille.

If all of that sounds like way too much action, (or you are not looking to get married), you can also visit the Centre d’Art Bastille or the Mountain Troops Museum.  (I also highly recommend the Musée Grenoble (Grenoble Museum).  It’s  across the river from La Bastille and  is one of France’s most prestigious art museums.)
Views from La Bastille, the #1 attraction in Grenoble, France.

Travel tip:   Locals and photographers know that the best time to visit La Bastille is at sunrise with the sun appearing over the mountains and waking up Grenoble.

Romantics at heart (and non early risers) visit at sunset….Yet another reason to return to The Fortress Mountain, although I’m likely to be one of the sunset visitors!
Very few attractions offer so many options appealing to young and old, romantics at heart, fitness fanatics  history buffs, you name it!

And everyone of all ages will enjoy the views, making the cable car journey and La Bastille the #1 thing to do in Grenoble!

Check out La Bastille’s official website  and Rhône Alpes website for further info on what else you can do in the area.

Thank you to Rhône Alpes Tourism for hosting me.  As always all opinions expressed are my own.

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About Author

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains Adventure Travel. She's passionate about getting outdoors as often as possible and helping travellers do the same on their vacation in a sustainable way. She's Canadian and grew up in the Canadian Rockies but now lives in Munich, Germany. You can find her skiing or hiking in the mountains most weekends, hanging out with her cat or with her nose in a good book.


January 25, 2013
I think the cable car looks like Christmas bulbs too. Beautiful views! I really want to visit during the holidays later this year after following along on your trip.
January 25, 2013
@Jennifer - Glad it wasn't just me :). Grenoble was beautiful in December and of course Lyon isn't very far and I can't recommend the Festival of Lights enough.
January 25, 2013
Very cool looking cable car. I've been close to Grenoble but never made it into the city proper. And anything that's as close to world class hiking - for the start or end of a trip sounds good to me. I could happily catch a sunrise in January - it's June that is a problem.] Great photos in this post Laurel.
January 25, 2013
@HikeBikeTravel - I know right? I'm eager to explore more of the area and hope to do so this summer. Those mountains are begging to be climbed! Good point about the sunrises, but it would be a stretch for me even in January :)
January 25, 2013
That is so cool! I love cable carts :-) It's a cheap thrill and a great way to get amazing shots. Lucky you it was a clear day!
January 25, 2013
@Zhu - The first day we were there it was really cloudy, but luckily it cleared up the next day so that we could really appreciate the views.
January 26, 2013
You're so right, Laurel. The cable cars do look like Christmas ornaments. I can see why it and La Bastille are the #1 thing to do in Grenoble.
January 26, 2013
What a great place and those are the coolest cable cars I've seen! The view from these pictures look amazing so I can imagine how incredible they must have look up there. Looks like another wonderful adventure for you. I want to go here now. My kids would love those cars!
January 27, 2013
Am I the only one who can't look at those cable cars without thinking about Newton's Cradle? Somehow I think that would make me feel a little more nervous than either the height or distance that has to be traveled.
January 27, 2013
Les Bulles! I loved them too, I only took them once {I'm a cablecar nervous wreck!}. I housesat in the city for four gorgeous autumn weeks and walked up to the Bastille every couple of days for exercise and the views. Sunset isn't so bad up there, I never did a sunrise though. Autumn is a beautiful time to visit. the mandarin caves were curious and a bit spooky, for a gal on her own! Ah, your pictures just make me want to go back. It's one of my favourite cities in Europe :)
February 20, 2013
@Rachel - Lucky you for being able to spend so much time there. Great tips, thanks for sharing. Now I'm really curious about the mandarin caves :)
January 28, 2013
Climb that mountain, Laurel! I love the picture of the "bubbles" with the city below. That's a fab pic of you, too. I'd love to visit Grenoble -- also famous for the 1968 Olympics when the handsome Jean-Claude Killy won the gold in skiing. :)
January 28, 2013
My dad used to go to Grenoble a lot for business and I think that's why I never look at it as a travel destination for me. Might have to change that perspective:)
February 11, 2013
@Sofie - I could see how that would give you a different perspective. I've only ever been there for vacation, but there's definitely lots to do, especially if you enjoy the outdoors.
January 30, 2013
What an incredible setting for a wedding! I love those bubble cable cars...
January 30, 2013
I would enjoy riding in Grenoble's "bubble"! I can see there is a lot to do in Grenoble. One of these days I'll get to this part of France. I would have never thought that Grenoble was flat!
January 31, 2013
@Debbie - It was my first time in this part of France as well. I was also surprised at how flat Grenoble was, especially given all the mountains surrounding it. Definitely worth a visit. I'm hoping to go back.
February 9, 2013
Was just in Grenoble for a business trip and my wife tagged along, she loved the ride up while I was stuck in meetings!
February 11, 2013
@Rapid Travel Chai - Glad to hear your wife enjoyed it, sounds much more fun than being stuck in meetings :)

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