Grenoble, France Hotels, Resorts & Hotel Accommodations

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GRENOBLE
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Grenoble is a city and commune in south-east France situated at the foot of the Alps where the Drac joins the Isère River. Located in the Rhône-Alpes région, Grenoble is the préfecture (capital) of the département of Isère. The proximity of the moutains make the city named "Capital of Alps" by french people. The population of the city (commune) of Grenoble at the 1999 census was 153,317 inhabitants (157,900 inhabitants estimated as of February 2004 ). The population of the whole metropolitan area (French: aire urbaine) at the 1999 census was 514,559 inhabitants and 560,222 inhabitants at the 2007 estimate. Among the numerous communes included are the city's largest suburbs, Saint-Martin-d'Hères, Échirolles, and Fontaine, each with a population exceeding 20,000 inhabitants. read full wikipedia reference about Grenoble, France

Beautifully situated on the Drac and Isère rivers, and surrounded by mountains, GRENOBLE is a lively, thriving, modern city, home to a university of more than 35,000 students. The city's prosperity was originally founded on glove-making, but in the nineteenth century its economy diversified to include mining, cement, paper mills, hydroelectric power ("white coal", as they called it) and metallurgy. Today, it is a centre of chemical and electronics industries and nuclear research, with the big, new laboratories of the Atomic Energy Commission on the banks of the Drac.

The best way to start your stay is to take the téléférique (Jan to mid-March & Nov-Dec daily 11am-6.30pm; mid-March to May & Oct Mon 11am-7.30pm, Tues-Sat 9.45am-midnight, Sun 9.15am-7.30pm; June & Sept Mon 11am-midnight, Tues-Sat 9.15am-midnight, Sun 9.15am-7.30pm; July & Aug Mon 11am-12.30am, Tues-Sun 9.15am-12.30am) from the riverside quai Stéphane-Jay to Fort de la Bastille on the steep slopes above the north bank of the Isère. The ride is hair-raising, as you are whisked steeply and swiftly into the air in a sort of transparent egg, which allows you to see very clearly how far you would fall in the event of an accident. If you don't like the sound of the cable car, you can climb the pleasant but steep footpath from the St-Laurent church .

Although the fort is of little interest, the view is fantastic. At your feet the Isère, milky-grey and swollen with snow-melt, tears at the piles of the old bridges which join the St-Laurent quarter, colonized by Italian immigrants in the nineteenth century, to the nucleus of the medieval town, whose red roofs cluster tightly around the church of St-André. To the east, snowfields gleam in the gullies of the Belledonne massif (2978m). Southeast is Taillefer and south-southeast the dip where the Route Napoléon passes over the mountains to Sisteron and the Mediterranean - this is the road Napoléon took after his escape from Elba in March 1815 on his way to rally his forces for the campaign that led to his final defeat at Waterloo. To the west are the steep white cliffs of the Vercors massif; the highest peak, dominating the city, is Moucherotte (1901m). The jagged peaks at your back are the outworks of the Chartreuse massif. Northeast on a clear day you can see the white peaks of Mont Blanc up the deep glacial valley of the Isère, known as La Grésivaudan. It was in this valley that the first French hydroelectric project went into action in 1869. Heading back into town, there's a pleasant path down through the public gardens.

Upstream from the téléférique station is the sixteenth-century Palais de Justice (open to the public), with place St-André and the church of St-André behind. Built in the thirteenth century and heavily restored, the church is of little architectural interest, but the narrow streets leading back towards places Grenette, Vaucanson and Verdun take you through the liveliest and most colourful quarter of the city. Life focuses on a chain of little squares - aux Herbes, Claveyson, de Gordes, Grenette and Notre-Dame - where people congregate at the numerous cafés and restaurants. The small produce market (Tues-Sun 6am-1pm) on place aux Herbes is a great place to stock up on inexpensive local produce.

Close to place St-André, in the former town hall at 1 rue Hector-Berlioz, in the corner of the Jardin de Ville gardens, is the Musée Stendhal (mid-July to mid-Sept Tues-Sat 9am-noon & 2-6pm; rest of year Tues-Sat 10am-noon, closed all hols; free), with one dusty room of objects associated with the author, who was born in Grenoble as Marie-Henri Beyle. You can also visit his grandfather's house, where he spent his childhood, at 20 Grand-Rue, just to the south (same hours; free)

On the east side of the bustling place Notre-Dame, Grenoble's newest museum, L'Ancien Évêché (Mon & Thurs-Sun 9am-7pm, Wed 9am-9pm; 20F/?3.05), housed in the old bishop's palace, offers a fleeting retrospective of Grenoble's history from the Stone Age to the seventeenth century. Among its prized exhibits are a good sixteenth-century triptych retable, known as the Tours de Pins , and a disappointing early Christian baptistery.

Other museums of note are the Musée de Grenoble , by the river at 5 place de Lavalette (Mon & Thurs-Sun 11am-7pm, Wed 11am-10pm), and the Musée Dauphinois , 30 rue Maurice-Gignoux (daily except Tues: May-Oct 10am-7pm; rest of year 10am-6pm), on the far bank of the Isère. The former is an enormous modern complex housing a gallery of mainly contemporary art. The building itself is impressive, but the collection is uneven, with many major schools of painting represented, though mostly by second-rate works. The best rooms are those of nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists (for example, Chagal and Matisse), but the contemporary section is marked by the mediocre work of local artists. The Musée Dauphinois lies up a cobbled path opposite the St-Laurent footbridge. Housed in the former convent of Ste-Marie-d'en-Haut, it is largely devoted to the history, arts and crafts of the province of Dauphiné; unlike neighbouring Savoie which was annexed only in 1860, Dauphiné has been French since the fourteenth century. There are exhibits on the life of the mountain people, les gens de là-haut ("the people from up there"), who (like most poor mountaineers) were obliged to travel the world as pedlars and knife-grinders. Many, too, were involved in smuggling, and there is a fascinating collection of body-hugging flasks used for contraband liquor. A well-produced audio-visual show, the Roman des Grenoblois , recounts the social and industrial history of the city, including the foundation of France's first trade union in 1803 by local glove-makers.

Also on the rer's right bank, a few minutes' walk east of the Musée Dauphinoise, the Musée Archéologique Église St-Laurent , on place St-Laurent (Wed-Sun 9am-noon & 2-6pm), is, for design and originality, Grenoble's best museum, and enjoyable both for adults and children. The history of the city is explained as you descend through various stages of excavations in this former church, passing through an early Christian necropolis, a high medieval cloister and an eighth-century crypt.

To the south of the old town lies the Parc Paul-Mistral , to one side of which is the Hôtel de Ville (1967), one of the earliest of France's now numerous and bold architectural experiments with its public buildings. In the park behind is an earlier and more frivolous structure, an 87-metre concrete tower designed in 1925 by Perret, one of the pioneers of avant-garde French architecture. The concrete looks shabby now and you could hardly call it attractive, but it is bold and unapologetically modern.

Across the road from the town hall, standing among the fine trees of the Jardin des Plantes is the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle (Mon & Wed-Sat 9.30am-noon & 1.30-5.30pm, Sun 2-6pm). It has a marvellous collection, though it's very badly displayed; and it includes all the Alpine birds of prey. Wedged between the park and the old town, you'll find the Musée des Troupes de Montagne at 19 rue Hébert (Mon-Fri 10am-noon & 2-5.30pm; free), a small museum devoted to the French mountain regiment, the Chasseurs Alpins. Just down the street at no. 14 is the Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation (July & Aug 10am-6pm; rest of year Mon & Wed-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat & Sun 10am-6pm), with a touching exhibition of photographs and memorabilia from the brutal Nazi occupation of the Dauphiné.

 

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