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!

The ‘Real’ Côte d’Azur

 

So having been to the touristy Côte d’Azur (St.Tropez, Cannes, Nice, Monaco etc. (blog post about these coming later)) we headed to the non-touristy part for a couple of days: Cassis.

We found a great little apartment to rent in Ensuès-la-Redonne via airbnb, which was just a 5 minute drive or 20 minute walk from the Calanques, which are coves or creeks specific to the Marseille area.

Our apartment

Our apartment

We were driving a little Renault Twingo, which was good for the roads. Anything bigger and we really would have struggled to fit down the tiny little lanes!

The hilly and windy roads of Cassis

The hilly and windy roads of Cassis

Cassis is very un-touristy. A great deal of effort has gone in to preserve the area for its natural beauty. It is very difficult for people access. There are a very limited amount of parking spaces, no bars or restaurants, and access to the Calanques by foot is very challenging!

Access to certain Calanques can be somewhat tricky

Access to certain Calanques can be somewhat tricky

The majority of the people that we came across were people from the South of France (recognisable from that strong accent!). We were one of the very few with a non-southern French accent, and I was certainly the only Foreigner!

The first day we went to Figuières. The beach we found was perfect: completely secluded, quiet, great views, and brilliant for snorkelling and seeing some big fish!

Beach in Figuières

Beach in Figuières

The water was so clear and calm. Though it was a bit difficult to get into the sea because of all the jagged rocks, once deep enough it was great for swimming and snorkelling.

Gallery from Figuières:

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The second day we went to Mejean. We were met by incredible views over the cliffs, which could have very easily been mistaken for a country like Croatia.

Views over the Calanques of Méjean

Views over the Calanques of Méjean

It was so quiet. Fantastic for relaxing and sunbathing, and again great for getting the snorkel out and going for a swim. However, as it is very rocky, you have to find the perfect position so you can be comfortable on the rocks!

Sunbathing on the rocks isn't always the most comfortable

Garance showing that sunbathing on the rocks isn’t always the most comfortable!

But it is worth it, it really did feel like we were in paradise!

Being on the South coast, we were lucky enough to have the sun from the moment we arrived, right up until the evening. Great for getting tanned enough for my return to England soon!

Gallery from Méjean:

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One word to summarise: Paradise. It was a great little break and so relaxing. Great to be on the South coast again but seeing something completely contrasting from the other very touristy areas!