Grenoble (pop. 156,000) has the eccentric cafes and shaggy radicals of any university town, but also boasts snow-capped peaks and sapphire-blue lakes cherished by athletes and aesthetes alike.
TRANSPORTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION. Trains leave pl. de la Gare for: Annecy (2hr. 18 per day, ‚14); Lyon (1 ‘ahr. 27 per day, ‚16); Marseilles (212-412hr. 15 per day, ‚33); Nice (5-6Mhr. 5 per day, ‚48); and Paris (3hr. 6 per day, ‚59-74). Buses leave from the left of the station for Geneva, Switzerland (3hr. daily, ‚26). From the station, turn right into pl. de la Gare, take the third left on av. Alsace-Lorraine, and follow the tram tracks on r. Felix Poulat and r. Blanchard to reach the tourist office, 14 r. de la Republique. (a 04 76 42 41 41; www.grenoble-isere.info. Open M-Sa 9am-6:30pm, Su lOam-lpm and 2-5pm.) E-toile has Internet access. ( 04 76 00 13 60. ‚3.50 per hr. Open M-F lOam-llpm, Sa-Su lOam-midnight.) Postal Code: 38000.
ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD. From the tourist office, follow pl. Ste-Claire to pl. Notre-Dame and take r. du Vieux Temple on the far right to reach Le Foyer de I’Etudiante O, 4 r. Ste-Ursule, a stately building with large rooms that serves as a dorm during most of the year, but opens to travellers during July and August. (a 04 76 42 00 84; www.multimania.comfoyeretudiante. Sheets ‚8. Laundry ‚2.20. Free Internet access. July-Aug. three-night min. for room; five-night max. for dorm. Dorms ‚8; singles ‚14; doubles ‚22.) Hotel de la Poste , 25 r. de la Poste, near the pedestrian zone, has amazing rooms, (afax 04 76 46 67 25. Singles ‚22-26; doubles ‚28; triples ‚32; quads ‚37. MCV.) To reach Camping Les 3 Pucelles 0,58 r. des Allobroges in Seyssins, take tram A (dir.: Fontaine-La Poya) to Louis Maisonnat, then take bus #51 (dir.: Les Nalettes) to Mas des lies; it’s on the left, (a 04 76 96 45 73; fax 04 76 21 43 73. One person, tent, and car ‚7.50; extra person ‚2.80.) Grenoble has many affordable restaurants, some with student discounts. Regional restaurants cater to locals around place de Gordes, while Asian eateries abound between pl. Notre-Dame and the river and along rue Condorcet. Patisseries and North African joints congregate around rue Chenoise and rue Lionne, between the pedestrian area and the river. Cafes and restaurants cluster around place Notre-Dame and place St-Andre, in the heart of the vieille ville. Monoprix supermarket is opposite the tourist office. (Open M-Sa 8:30am-7:30pm.)
SIGHTS AND THE OUTDOORS. Telepheriques (cable cars) depart from quai Stephane-Jay every lOmin. for the 16th-century Bastille, a fort that hovers above town. Enjoy the views from the top, then descend via the Parc Guy Pape, which crisscrosses through the fortress and deposits you just across the river from the train station. (Open July-Aug. M 1 lam-12:15am, Tu-Su 9:15am-12:15am; Sept.-June reduced hours. One-way ‚3.80, round-trip ‚5.50; students ‚34.40.) Cross the Pont St-Laurent and go up Montee Chalemont for the Musee Dauphinois, 30 r. Maurice Gignoux, with its futuristic exhibits on the people of the Alps and the history of skiing. (Open June-Sept. M and W-Su 10am-7pm; Oct.-May 10am-6pm. ‚3.20. Under-25 free.) The Musee de Grenoble, 5 pl. de Lavelette, has one of France’s most prestigious collections of art. (Open July-Sept. M, Th-Su 10am-6pm, W 10am-9pm; Oct.-June M and Th-Su llam-7pm, W llam-lOpm. ‚4, students ‚2.) Grenoble’s proximity to the slopes is another attractive aspect of the city. The biggest and most developed ski areas are to the east in Oisans; the Alpe d’Huez boasts 220km of trails. (Tourist office 04 76 11 44 44. ‚33 per day, ‚171 per week.) The Belledonne region, northeast of Grenoble, has lower elevation and prices. Cham-rousse is the biggest and most popular ski area (lift tickets ‚23 per day, ‚79-113 per week). Only 30min. from Grenoble by bus (‚8.70), the resort also makes for a hiker’s ideal daytrip in summer. Grenoble boasts plenty of funky cafes, bars and clubs; most are in the area between place St-Andre and place Notre-Dame.