Grenoble: Capital of the Alps

Home to the 1968 Winter Olympic Games, Grenoble is somewhere that must be visited in the winter, right? Wrong. We went to Grenoble on a very hot summers day, and it was fantastic! Just an hour and a half away from Lyon by train, Grenoble is referred to as the Capital of the Alps, and it is evident why from the photos below!

Capital of the Alps

Capital of the Alps

Arriving at midday, we headed straight to the centre to get lunch. The main square with restaurants and terraces is called Place Grenette. Restaurants were typically quite touristy, but we had a nice big lunch to give us plenty of energy for the exploring ahead.

Following lunch, we headed towards the main tourist site of Grenoble: Fort de la Bastille, up a mountain on top of the city.

Fort de la Bastille

Fort de la Bastille

To get up to the top, it is possible to walk. However with temperatures at mid-30s, we wisely decided to use the Worlds oldest cable car, known as ‘Les Bulles.’

Cable cars flying over the river

Cable cars flying over the river

Les Bulles

Les Bulles

Views at the top of the mountain were spectacular. There were several levels of viewing platforms offering panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

View over the city

View over the city

Made it to the top thanks to the cable cars!

Made it to the top thanks to the cable cars!

Even had the chance to get a bit creative with the camera!

The Alps

The Alps

We were lucky to be there on a very clear day. This allowed us to get a glimpse of Mont Blanc, western Europe’s tallest mountain, in the distance.

A snowy Mont Blanc in the background

A snowy Mont Blanc in the background

From here we followed signs for ‘the caves’ and were sceptical as to what we would find inside when we got to the entrance.

Entrance to the caves

Entrance to the caves

After a few minutes walk we reached some stairs and then eventually an opening.

Stairs leading higher up the mountain

Stairs leading higher up the mountain

The top of the caves

The top of the caves

We were met with more fantastic and unique views over the city.

Peeking through the cave at the view

Peeking through the cave at the view

A lot of people that went up to the Fort didn’t continue on to the caves. It was a bit of effort walking up those stairs, but it was well worth it! After this we headed back down to the main city.

As with a lot of French cities, there are many squares with fountains and gardens, alongside beautiful buildings.

Jardin de Ville

Jardin de Ville

Grenoble is quite a small city, and easily to see all in one day. We made the most of walking around the city, seeing the sights and admiring the beautiful French architecture.

The gallery below shows off some of Grenoble’s best parts:

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Grenoble was a beautiful city, and despite being very famous for it’s location in and around plenty of ski resorts, it is also great to visit during the summer!

Ich Bin Ein Berliner


Things to do:

  • Visit all of the monuments in the centre of Berlin
  • Take a trip to the various Schloss (castles) in and around Berlin 
  • Go to the top of the Dome in the German Parliament Building- the Bundestag
  • Visit the Olympic Stadium- which has a lot of history, and some great views of the city
  • Head over to the East Side Gallery to see remnants of the Berlin Wall

How could I write a post about Berlin and not start with this famous speech?! Berlin is in the east of Germany, and with so much modern history to its name, I would recommend doing a little reading up about the city before you visit, as I did!

Map of Germany

Map of Germany

So I took a little trip to Berlin in the summer. I took the TGV from Lyon to Paris, then flew with Air Berlin. I’ve got to say, I was very impressed with Air Berlin- a free snack and soft drink, and I even got to watch the Looney Tunes (it seems rare nowadays to have TV’s on such short flights!).

Something that hit me immediately- the prices of everything- so cheap! Arriving in Berlin was a bit of a shock: 2,40€ from Tegel Airport to the city centre via public transport. Drinks in bars were incredibly cheap- 2€ for a pint of beer. We ate out for less than 10€ every night. It was great!

So packing a huge city like Berlin into a 4 day trip- is it possible? Most certainly. Although the transport system in Berlin is very good and efficient, I decided to make the most of the sunshine, put my trainers on, and walk around the city to see all of the monuments.

Starting point: Alexander-platz. It is the first building I noticed- the tallest structure in Berlin. It is also central- and so easy to walk to many other monuments from here.

From Alexander-platz, we took a stroll down to Museumsinsel (Museum Island). And it is exactly what it says on the tin- a very small island full of museums. The buildings were all striking- very old but all very grand.

Altes Museum

Altes Museum

However one thing that I was very quick to notice- the buildings all seemed dirty and unkept. In Lyon, often buildings will have scaffolding up for a few weeks during the year to clean the front and make the building look very clean, so perhaps this is why these buildings appeared run-down to me.

Berliner Dom

Berliner Dom

Next, we headed to the Tiergarten area: Berlin’s biggest park, situated right in the centre of the city. The Bundestag is the German Parliament building, and it really is huge!

The Bundestag

Reichstag/Bundestag

If you get the chance, book up early to go to the dome inside the Bundestag, it’s a great view! There are visits to see inside the actual parliament building itself, I was just unfortunate enough to be there in the only week that it was closed!

Up close

Up close

A 2 minute walk from here was the world famous Brandenburg Gate, or, as someone kept insisting I say- Das Brandenburger Tor.

Das Brandenburger Tor

Das Brandenburger Tor

Next, something that my friends from Berlin told me that many people miss, or are simply oblivious to: A memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. I guess in a way it is a very simple memorial, but so powerful and effective as well. I would describe it as a maze- and it would be very easy to get lost in here! You just don’t realise how high the monuments rise, or how low the ground goes.

Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas

Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas

Continuing down this road took us exactly along where the Berlin wall had been- separating East and West Berlin. We evntually reached Potsdamer Platz, which shows off how far Berlin has come since the communist era. The huge modern skyscrapers are a symbol of capitalism and modern Germany, as can be seen in the background of the photo above.

Further into the centre of the Tiergarten Park are a couple more striking monuments. First of all is the Siegessäule (Victory Tower). Please note: Don’t be stupid and run across the very busy roundabout like we did- best to use the underpasses!

Die Siegessäule

Siegessäule

The Bundespräsidialamt (Office of the Federal President) is a short walk from here, and worth a look, it is a very beautiful building. The actual mansion is called Bellevue.

Bellevue

Bellevue

A final recommendation would be to visit the Olympiastadion. The Olympic Stadium was home to the famous 100 and 200 metre wins by Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics. It was renovated for the 2006 Football World Cup. It is absolutely imperative to go to the bell tower, for an incredible view of the stadium with the city glowing in the background

Olympiastadion

Olympiastadion

So these were the main sites that I visited in 2 days in Berlin. Whilst it felt rushed getting around the city, it was relaxing enough to appreciate each place I went to.

There will be more posts coming with the other things I got up to in Berlin. We visited a couple of castles where I took a lot of beautiful pictures. There is also the East Side Gallery, an old part of the Berlin wall which remains, with many hundreds of art murals. I think this deserves its own post as I took so many photos! Here are a couple of teasers to bring you back next time 😉

Schloss Sans Souci

Schloss Sans Souci

Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall