Grenoble Rentacar: Grab Your Hire Car For Ski Season
The ski season is just around the corner, and what better place to get a piece of the action than Grenoble, the French ski capital in the heart of the Alps.
It’s a beautiful location full of superb scenery best explored by car, not to mention some of the world’s greatest ski resorts. Check out our guide to Grenoble by car…
First of all, before you go gallivanting around the countryside it’s worth checking out the city itself. The centre of Grenoble is an ornate and quaint urban setting with a slightly Mediterranean feel, explained no doubt by its closeness to Italy. It’s a multicultural town with an eclectic mix of French, Italian and Arabic peoples, and this is reflected by the fine variety of restaurants. Whether its couscous, coq au vin or pasta and pizza that you’re after you’ll get it all here in Grenoble.
WHAT TO DO IN THE CITY
The city has a comprehensive and pretty user friendly tram system, so you can get around fairly easily. Just buy your ticket from the machines, stamp it and away you go.
Intersected by the Isere river, Grenoble has no shortage of sights to see. The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive in town is the large fortress towering above the city. This is the old Bastille Fortress, a popular monument frequented by tourists and locals alike.
You can climb the hill yourself, taking in the handsome citadels and developing views along the way, or you can take the cable car up to the top. This involves ascending the mountain in transparent spheres. It’s quite the experience, but not recommended if you’ve a fear of heights!
Elsewhere, the city has some interesting art exhibitions. The quality of modern art at the Musee de Grenoble is impressive – it’s located just off the Place Notre Dame tram stop in the centre of town. Wander through the displays, then relax with an al fresco meal or drink in the charming Place Notre Dame square. Other museums in the city include the Musee Dauphinois, a quaint little spot that explores the history of the province (located at the foot of the Bastille across the Isere river) and the Musee De L’Ancien Eveche, another history museum, also located off the Place Notre Dame.
For those of you who just fancy a wander through the city then why not take a stroll alongside the Isere river. On the side of the Bastille complex there’s a range of quality Italian restaurants, while the other side you’ll find the old Grenoble area full of Arabic restaurants. This area is also the main nightlife spot, which is friendly and buzzes along nicely at weekends.
A popular haunt for students and curious visitors is the Dar al Shisha, located between the Place Notre Dame the river. Here you can relax with various exotic teas and puff on a shisha pipe. These flavoured tobacco pipes are popular in Arabic culture and it is considered a social occasion to share one with friends over a pot of tea.
For a bit of fresh air there are a number of green spaces in the Grenoble central area. If you’re by the river take some time to relax in the Jardin de Ville… this popular, compact park comes alive with families, students and tourists in the warm weather. Further out in the suburbs you’ll find the Parc Mistral – this sprawling parkland area is ideal for walks and jogs, while the Bastille area is also surrounded by parklands.
IN AND AROUND GRENOBLE – SKIING, HIKING AND EXPLORING
Once you’ve seen the sights of the city it’s well worth making the most of its surroundings. If you’ve arrived in the winter then the chances are you’ll be here to do a spot of skiing or snowboarding. There are dozens of ski stations located nearby so it’s just a question of where you want to go. Both Autrans and Chamrousse ski stations are handily located just a short drive away and have a good range of courses. Here’s a full list of the stations in the surrounding mountain ranges:
Belledonne Mountain Range
Chamrousse – 35 km away
Le Collet d’Allevard – 50 km
Prapoutel (7 Laux resort) – 38 km
Pipay (7 Laux resort) – 38 km
Le Pleynet (7 Laux resort) – 63 km
Saint Pierre d’Allevard – Espace nordique du Barioz – 37 km
Chartreuse Mountain Range
La Ruchère – Saint-Christophe sur Guiers – 46 km
Saint Hilaire du Touvet – 25 km
Saint Bernard du Touvet – Col de Marcieu – 32 km
Le Sappey en Chartreuse – 14 km
Col de Porte – 14 km
Saint Pierre de Chartreuse – 26 km
Le Planolet (St Pierre de Chartreuse) – 26 km
Saint Hugues / Les Egaux – 26 km
Oisans Mountain Range
Allemont Relié (Grandes Rousses) – 20km
Alpe d’Huez (Grandes Rousses) – 69 km
Auris en Oisans (Grandes Rousses) 63 km
Col d’Ornon – 57 km
Les 2 Alpes – 75 km
Oz en Oisans (Grandes Rousses) – 55 km
Vaujany – 55 km
Venosc-Vénéon Relié 2 Alpes – 70 km
Villard-Reculas (Grandes Rousses) – 57 km
Sud Isere Mountain Range
L’Alpe du Grand Serre – 42 km
Chichilianne – 55 km
Col de l’Arzelier – 33 km
Gresse en Vercors – 48 km
La Motte d’Aveillans – Les Signaraux – 36 km
Laffrey, Cholonge – 26 km
Tréminis – 75 km
Vercors Mountain Range
Autrans – 36 km
Col de Roméyère – 52 km
Les Coulmes – 52 km
Lans en Vercors – 28 km
Méaudre – 38 km
Saint Nizier du Moucherotte – 24 km
Villard de Lans (Corrençon) – 35 km
Corrençon en Vercors (Villard de Lans) – 40 km
Nothing beats the exhilarating experience of hurtling through the snow as the panoramic views unfold before you. Grenoble is the number one location in France for skiing, and with a car at your side you’ll have the liberty to tour the different ski stations at you leisure.
Of course if you arrive in the summer season then the only ski resort that’s open all year round is La Tigne, located well within the Alps.
However, mountain bike enthusiasts and hikers will be in heaven here, there are innumerable routes criss-crossing all four mountain ranges that surround Grenoble, while some of the local villages are well worth exploring. Moucherotte Mountain is a favourite for hikers. Just call into the tourist office in the centre of town (rue de la Republique) for the Carte des Sentiers Sipavag’ – this is a free map of local hiking routes). Similarly, the Guide des Balades’ is available at the TAG office in the same building.
There are dozens of beautiful villages scattered around the city of Grenoble, where you can relax away from city life. Just hit the open road and investigate for yourself. Many of the ski stations become quaint, pleasant towns in the warmer months, just head for Chamrousse in the summer to see what we mean.
For the real adventurers amongst you it’s worth bearing in mind that Grenoble enjoys an excellent location close to some of France’s most interesting towns. Both Marseille (see our guide) and Lyon (again, click here for our guide) are a short drive away, while the classy French Riviera is within easy reach.
Why not head down to the coast to experience the wealth, glamour and luxury of St Tropez, the buzzing throb of Nice and the cultural mecca of Cannes? Cruise up the coast towards Monaco, home to the Monte Carlo grand prix and haven for the rich and famous.
It’s all within your reach and Grenoble is an excellent place to start your adventure in the south of France. Remember, if you need accommodation just have a look at www.placestostay.com – our sister site has an excellent range of hotels at cut prices.
That’s about the long and short of it – of course there’s much more to see and do, it’s just a case of getting over there and exploring for yourself.
Remember to have a look at our language guide for a few tips on the lingo of the road, and be sure to drop us an email in the comment box below if you have any questions, suggestions or things to say. Bon voyage!