We decided to welcome 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland. But before that, we had some Christmas plans in France. Coming from Barcelona, our first stop was near Perpignan, at Le Village Noël, a market that each year turns the fishermen’s village of Port Barcarès into a Christmas fairy tale.
From Perpignan, we mainly had two options to reach Geneva: via Lyon or via Grenoble. Since we already know Lyon (we visited the city in 2017), we decided to spend a night in Grenoble. And it was for sure a good decision.
The truth is that we did not know much about Grenoble when we started planning this trip. Of course, we knew Grenoble was next to the Alps, but we had not heard from its most special place, La Bastille. Yes, when Google showed us the bubbles in the picture below, we immediately knew we wanted to take one of them up to the top of Grenoble.
We were surprised by the long queue to take the cable car (both up and down La Bastille), so go with sufficient time on weekends. The down station is placed in L’Isère southern slope, next to the city’s garden. The cable car was inaugurated in 1934 to link La Bastille with the city centre. In 1976, the bubbles were installed and became a symbol for Grenoble. With transparent walls, they can carry up to 6 passengers each and offer amazing views during the journey.
The cable car is often open until midnight and operates continously every 5 minutes aproximately.
The Grenoble cable car was one of the first urban cable cars in the world and thanks to its construction we can easily visit La Bastille. It is a military fortress from the 19th century and the most-visited tourist site in Grenoble. If you want to avoid the price of the cable car for a round trip (€8.60), you can also reach La Bastille by car. In the fortress area, visitors will find exhibition places, restaurants and some interesting trekking paths.
One of the best places in La Bastille is its viewpoint to overlook the surrounding mountains. Moreover, if you follow one of the paths that leave from the fortress, you will arrive at the Mandrin caves (“grottes de Mandrin”), an example of the defensive system of the fortress.
From La Bastille, there are also views to the surroundings of the city and, particularly, to the European Synchotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the world’s most intense X-ray source.
Back to the city centre, we walked towards the Saint André square. In the square, there are three interesting points, the Palace of the Dauphiné Parliament, the Collegiate Church (Collégiale) of Saint-André and the Café de la Table Ronde. The church bell tower, built in the late 13th century, is a feature of Grenoble’s skyline, with its 56 metres tall.
As per the café, the oldest one in Grenoble, it was founded in 1739. The Café de la Table Ronde is also one of the oldest cafés in France, so it deserves a visit (and a beer in our case!). It is a beautiful place, but it is worth saying that staff is not very friendly when they identify you as a tourist.
And last but not least, we could not leave Grenoble without tasting the traditional gastronomy of the Savoy region. In our case, we had a reblochon fondue with a cup of local wine. Reblochon is the most famous cheese in the area, made of cow milk. We tasted it in La Ferme à Dédé, one of the few restaurants in the city centre that were open that Sunday evening.