20 Things To Do In Grenoble

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At the foot of the majestic French Alps in south east France, Grenoble has a rich and diverse history dating back to the ancient Gallic tribe of the Allobroges. The city was the site of many historical events including serving as the host of the 1968 Winter Olympic Games. These days, Grenoble is a leading scientific and technological hub, with many research institutes and innovative companies in fields such as nuclear physics, microelectronics and renewable energy. It is home to the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, the largest source of high-energy X-rays in Europe. Further important scientific destinations in the city include the Grenoble Institute of Technology, one of the top engineering schools in France.

There is more to Grenoble than history and science. It is also a vibrant and cultural city filled with museums and theatres. The city hosts many annual festivals too, from music to food and is filled with restaurants, some of which specialise in the city’s delicacy of Dauphinois potatoes. Grenoble is surrounded by stunning natural scenery, with the Isère river flowing through the city and the snow-capped Alps looming over it. It is a paradise for outdoor lovers, with countless opportunities for skiing, hiking, biking and paragliding. If you are looking for a destination that combines history, culture, innovation, and nature, here are the best things to do in Grenoble.

Grenoble, France

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20 Things To Do In Grenoble

1- Visit Bastille Fortress

Bastille Fortress is a must-visit landmark in Grenoble.

The fortress sits at 476m (1561ft) above sea level, offering visitors impressive views across the city.

Following unsuccessful requests to fortify the hill in the 1500s, the hill was finally transformed into a fortress after the Huguenots took control over the city.

The fortress originally comprised of a tower to better increase visibility over the city, and several small bastions where soldiers were based.

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Today the fortress houses the Bastille Art Centre where contemporary works of art are displayed.

Bastille Fortress is at Quai Stéphane Jay, 38000 Grenoble.

2- Explore The Old Town

grenoble france
Looking for things to do in Grenoble?

Grenoble’s Old Town is known as the Vieux Quartier, and exploring it is a great way to get to know the city.

The area dates from the 16th century where it served as the heart of the city and was filled with homes, businesses and market places.

Little has seemingly changed in the centuries since, with the Old Town offering visitors an enticing look into the old architecture of the city through its medieval buildings and ancient Roman walls.

Wander through the Old Town to find some of the city’s most beloved buildings including St Andrew’s Church and the spectacular Place Grenette.

Place Grenette has served as a meeting place for locals since the 17th century and is lined with cafes and restaurants.

Inside the square are many statues depicting cherubs and dolphins all surrounding a peaceful water fountain.

Looking for a fun way to explore? Check out these games:

3- Ride The Grenoble-Bastille Cable Car

Cable Car Descending La Bastille In Grenoble
Riding the Grenoble-Bastille Cable Car is one of the top things to do in Grenoble.

The best way to reach Grenoble’s famous Bastille Fortress is by cable car.

Not only does the cable car offer easy access to this landmark, it also offers spectacular views across the mountains and over the city.

On clear days it is possible to see Mont-Blanc and Belledonne’s massif.

The cable car was among the first in the world, having been built in 1934.

Each car is shaped like a bubble enabling panoramic views across the surrounding areas.

Grenoble-Bastille Cable Car is at Quai Stephane Jay, 38000 Grenoble.

4- Stroll Through Jardin de Ville

Relax and unwind in one of Grenoble’s best parks, Jardin de Ville.

The Duke of Lesdiguieres built the gardens in 1719 as a place for the public to enjoy.

This pleasant and leafy park has been a local favourite for centuries.

It is filled with fragrant magnolia trees, delicate shrubs and colourful flowerbeds.

Seek out the gardens many bronze statues and sculptures.

Urbain Basset, a local sculptor, designed the garden’s most famous statue ‘La Fontaine du Torrent’, depicting a young man holding a jar on his shoulder as water pours out.

There are plenty of benches perfectly placed for optimum views across the gardens.

The gardens hosts an annual five day music festival, as well as many smaller events throughout the year including regular musical events in the gardens bandstand.

Jardin de Ville is at 5 Jardin de Ville, 3800 Grenoble.

5- Discover Musee de Grenoble

Porte De France In Grenoble
Porte De France in Grenoble. Looking for things to do?

Spend an afternoon at Musee de Grenoble to uncover the history behind the city and beyond.

Opened in 1798, the museum has been dedicated to sharing Grenoble’s history with its citizens through varying works of art.

The collections in the museum cover the history of the city from the 13th to the 20th century through a selection of artworks.

Within the museum’s collection are masterpieces from classical Flemish and Italian paintings.

Many statues, sculptures and artefacts from different points in history are also housed in the museum including some from Ancient Egypt.

The museum also houses a collection focusing on contemporary art works from the post-war period to today.

Musee de Grenoble is at 5 Pl. de Lavalette, 38000 Grenoble.

6- Enjoy Parc Paul Mistral

Perret Tower In Grenoble
Wandering around Parc Paul Mistral is one of the things to do in Grenoble. Here’s the Perret Tower.

Visit the largest park in Grenoble for a truly relaxing afternoon surrounded by nature.

The park spans across 33 hectares (81.54 acres) of lush green lawns, tree lined pathways and leafy shaded nooks.

The park was built on a former military field in 1925 and was named after Paul Mistral, the mayor of Grenoble in 1919.

Spend some time admiring the views, plant species and wildlife in the park.

The park is a popular birdwatching destination as less common birds such as Black-headed Gull, Tree Finch and grey doves often sighted.

Parc Paul Mistral is at Bd Jean Pain, 38000 Grenoble.

7- Visit The Dauphinois Museum

On the slopes of the Bastille is the Dauphinois Museum, a museum dedicated to local arts.

The museum is set inside the Sisters of the Visitation Convent and is filled with exhibits on popular culture from the Dauphine Alps region.

Saint-Francois de Sales and Sainte-Jeanne de Chantal built the convent in the 17th century which has since been classified as a historical monument.

The convent still retains touches from its time as a religious home with a beautiful chapel room featuring gilded ornate carvings and delicately painted frescoes.

The museum’s permanent exhibitions focus on life in the rural mountains, while the temporary exhibits showcase up and coming local artists.

The convent gardens are also open to the public offering a tranquil space to relax and admire the views across the city.

Dauphinois Museum is at 30 Rue Maurice Gignoux, 38000 Grenoble.

8- Walk Along The River

Cable Cars In Grenoble And Mountains
Walking along the river is one of the relaxing things to do in Grenoble France.

Take a leisurely stroll along the banks of the River Isère as it winds through the city.

The river runs through the Grenoble Valley and down to the city, winding between massifs Chartreuse, Belledonne and Vercors.

There are many pleasant sections of the river to stroll along, from those on the outskirts of the city surrounded by nature, to the city section and its lively embankments.

If you don’t fancy a walk, it is possible to canoe down the river.

9- Experience La Casemate Science Centre

Immerse yourself in Grenoble’s scientific history at La Casemate Science Centre, otherwise known as CCSTI de Grenoble.

Scientists, local universities and researchers founded the centre in 1979 to promote scientific knowledge and learning to all.

CCSTI is located at the bottom of Bastille Hill and is set inside a former Casemate by the river, giving the museum its name.

Inside the centre are engaging exhibitions, interactive workshops and regular projects.

La Casemates Science Centre is at 2 Pl. Saint-Laurent, 38000 Grenoble.

10- Admire Cathedral Notre-Dame

One of the most impressive religious buildings in Grenoble is Cathedral Notre-Dame.

This Roman Catholic Church is a national monument and is the seat of the bishop.

The cathedral dates from 902, with key structural additions in the 13th and 15th centuries.

Alfred Berruyer, an architect, remodelled the cathedral in the 19th century using vast amounts of concrete.

A restoration of the cathedral saw its Roman facade recovered in the 1990s.

While the cathedral is by no means the most ornate or dramatic of the French cathedrals, it offers a certain quietude and tranquility that can often be taken away by crowds around other religious sites.

Cathedral Notre-Dame is at Place Notre Dame, 38000 Grenoble.

11- Shop At Halles Sainte-Claire

Riondel, an architect, designed the elegant Halles Sainte-Claire in 1874.

The building is elegant in its design, with an intricately decorated facade including depictions of lions.

This market place is a must-visit destination for the vibrancy, the colour, smells and sights, and the overall welcoming vibe.

There are numerous stalls selling fresh fruits and vegetables, ready to drink smoothies, fresh fish and meats, cheeses and of course plenty of sweet treats.

If you are staying in self-catering accommodation, a trip to Halles Sainte-Claire is the perfect location for stocking up on the freshest ingredients.

Halles Sainte-Claire is at 19 Pl. Saints-Claire, 38000 Grenoble.

12- Explore Place Notre Dame

Grenoble Architecture - Aerial View
Looking for free things to do in Grenoble? You could spend an entire day wandering the city and discover nooks and crannies.

Experience the true heart of the city at Place Notre Dame.

This bustling square is one of the best locations in Grenoble to experience true local life, and is a great destination to begin or end your day.

The square is lined with outdoor cafes and trendy restaurants.

The buildings around the edges of the square date from the 12th century and include landmarks such as the cathedral, St Hugues Church and the Old Bishops’ Palace Museum.

Take a photograph of the beautiful fountain in the centre of the square.

Henri Ding, a 19th century sculptor, carved the Fountain of the Three Orders which stands in the square and depicts three men from different walks of life of the city.

Place Notre Dame is at 38000 Grenoble.

13- Attend A Concert At Le Summum

Enjoy a musical and cultural evening at Le Summum, an excellent concert venue in the city.

The theatre opened in 1988 and has held a variety of performances from comedy to symphonies.

Le Summum has seen performances from Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult and Nirvana throughout its history.

The venues eclectic variety of performers has made it a favourite venue for locals and visitors alike.

Le Summum is also a popular venue for large scale events and meetings, with space for up to 3000 people to be comfortably accommodated inside.

Check out their schedule before travelling to Grenoble to book tickets to see an event at this exciting venue.

Le Summum is at Rue Henri Barbusse, 38100 Grenoble.

14- Visit CNAC

CNAC is the Centre National d’Art Contemporain in Grenoble.

This museum is one of the best destinations in France to see contemporary art.

The museum wears installed inside a former workshop of Gustav Eiffel at the start of the 20th century.

The museum was opened in 1986 with further renovations to expand in 2022 enabling greater spaces for contemporary artists to showcase their work across a range of media.

The building itself is a work of contemporary art; comprising of a vast glass roof and industrial riveted metal frame, the museum itself is designed to allow visitors to discover its two main spaces, the street and the store.

CNAC is at 8 Esp. Andry Farcy, 38000 Grenoble.

15- Meander Through Île Verte

Île Vert is a truly local neighbourhood in Grenoble and is one that is well worth exploring.

The neighbourhood is filled with trendy tower block apartments and is a stones throw from some of the most popular destinations in the city such as the Bastille and Notre Dame Cathedral.

The neighbourhood was built inside the wider Île Vert park and as such is a green and leafy district.

Inside the park are picnic areas, plenty of benches and a number of well-equipped playgrounds for families to enjoy.

16- Admire Saint-Louis Church

Another excellent meeting place in the city is Saint-Louis Square, which is home to a church of the same name.

The beautiful Saint Louis Church is a popular tourist site and is an excellent example of medieval architecture in the city.

The church dates from the late 1600s and, as is often found in traditional Roman Catholic Churches, follows the shape of a cross.

Inside the church is a spectacular choir house with an ornate altar.

André, a Dominican friar, produced many exquisite paintings for the cathedral in 1680.

Further examples of art works in the church include white marble statues of the Virgin and spectacular stained glass windows dating from the 1920s.

Saint-Louis Church, Rue Félix Poulat, 38000 Grenoble.

17- Go Skiing

Professional Skier Athlete Skiing At The Top Of A Ski Resort
Go Skiing things to do in Grenoble in winter.

Base yourself in Grenoble during the winter season to make the most of the many skiing resorts around the city.

Grenoble’s close proximity to the Alps makes it the ideal base to combine both a winter sports vacation with a city break.

One of the best ski resorts close to Grenoble is Chamrousse.

Chamrousse overlooks the city of Grenoble where the 1968 Winter Olympics was held.

This ski resort sits at an altitude of 1400m-2250m (4593ft-7381ft) and offers approximately 90 kilometres (55 miles) of varying skiing terrain.

Another excellent skiing destination near Grenoble is Vallée de la Maurienne, a family friendly resort that offers skiers fast and high powered gondolas to reach the summit of the mountain.

Here, alongside traditional skiing and snowboarding you will find snow tubing and sledging.

18- Museum of Resistance And Deportation

The Museum of Resistance and Deportation provides an interesting day out in Grenoble.

The museum focuses on the true history of resistance and deportation across France, Europe and other parts of the world through stories from people involved.

The museum has dedicated exhibits focusing on the French Resistance and the plight of the Jewish population of the city during the German Occupation in World War II.

The museum follows a chronology, allowing visitors to see the story of France and beyond through an interactive timeline with artefacts, videos and interactive exhibits.

A key focus area of the museum is the French Resistance, with the entire second floor dedicated to the stages of the resistance.

Museum of Resistance and Deportation is at 14 Rue Hébert, 38000 Grenoble.

19- Discover The Grenoble Archaeological Museum

Grenoble Architecture At Sunset
Exploring on foot is one of the things to do in Grenoble summer.

Another excellent Museum to visit in Grenoble is its Archaeological Museum.

The museum has a sanctuary dating from the 6th century Christian era of the city, and a well-preserved crypt.

The museum has uncovered around 1500 years of religious history from the city, and has identified practices and artefacts from funerary traditions.

As a live archaeological site, the museum is regularly uncovering new sites and objects, some of which are preserved in situ.

Grenoble Archeological Museum is at Pl. Saint-Laurent, 38000 Grenoble.

20- Eat Dauphinois Potatoes

Grenoble is famous for its potato dish known as dauphinois.

This dish takes its name from the city’s history, as the city was once the capital of the Dauphine region of France.

Dauphinois potatoes consists of thinly sliced potatoes parboiled, before being layered in a dish with a sauce made from cream, milk, butter, garlic and seasoning.

This classic side dish is popular throughout the city, however one of the best versions can be found at Le Per’Gras.

This cosy restaurant has served the city since 1896 and still uses the original kitchen and coal-fired range.

Chartreuse Mountains Seen From Grenoble
Admiring the Chartreuse Mountains is one of the things to do in Grenoble, France.

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Sarah Holmes
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.