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Grenoble is one of the great settlements of the colossal Alps Mountains that dominate central Europe. The city is on the French side, and today is known as a great centre of learning and scientific discovery. Each winter, millions of tourists flock to Grenoble in search of a skiing adventure. In the summer, Grenoble does not disappoint as a hiking or mountain biking destination. Driving around the Alps is a real experience, and you can easily take a trip to check out one of the pristine reflective mountain lakes.
Who to Book With
There are several operators to choose from in Grenoble, including the top firms of Avis, Europcar, and Hertz. Most are located next to the train station, on Place du Gare, as well as in other central locations. To find the most convenient location and to secure the best rate, book online in advance.
Best Time to go
The winter ski season is the busiest time for Grenoble. A trip during the summer months is just as rewarding, however, or you could go during spring to view the alpine wild flowers in bloom. Expect to pay higher accommodation rates during the ski season, which runs from Christmas to Easter.
Need to Know Essentials
To pick up your rental car, you must provide the following documents:
- An EU driving license or a valid International Driving Permit
- A passport or another form of photo ID alongside your license
- A copy of the credit card used to make the booking
- A printed booking confirmation if possible
The A480 is main road that runs through Grenoble, crossing the Isere River. The N87 provides the main east-west route that crosses the Drac River. As Grenoble is a busy town, try and avoid driving during the morning and evening rush hours, when traffic jams are common.
There are several car parks in Grenoble, most of which are located near the main train station or to the east by the Isere River. There are a couple of others located more centrally in town, next to the big park Paul Mistral.
Getting up into the Alps from Grenoble is easy: just take any road north, east, south or west! Alternately, take the A41 north towards Chambery then continue on from there. The A41 continues to Geneva in Switzerland. A few miles north of Chambery, the road splits east to become the A43, which continues into Italy.
Grenoble has some great public transport options since it is served by a tram and an urban bus system. There are regional buses too, useful for getting into the surrounding country. Grenoble is easily reached by rail, with several services from Paris and Lyon.
Grenoble is a very serviceable city when it comes to rail travel, which is partly why it is such a popular destination with skiers. There are several trains connecting Grenoble with Paris in just three hours via the high-speed TGV service. There are also hourly trains to the next big city, Lyon. The journey takes around an hour and a half on the regional rail service. Using the TER service, you can also get to Geneva in Switzerland in two hours.
There are many taxis operating in Grenoble. These usually need to be booked in advance, unless they are collecting you from the train station or at another taxi rank. You can call Taxis Grenoblois on +33 04 76 54 42 54 to book.
Buses and Trams
There are four tram lines in Grenoble, all of which converge in the centre of town. Line A is most useful for going north to south, whilst B and C take different routes across the city going east and west. Line D is shorter, useful for travel in the eastern district. All of the bus routes spider out of the city, converging at the Tram A station at Verdun Prefecture. You can check routes and timetables by visiting the TAG website. There are also regional buses from the bus station, operated by VFD.
Most of Grenoble’s charm comes from the fact that it is nestled in a valley surrounded by the Alps. It is extremely easy to get to the alpine ski resorts in the winter, and in the spring and summer it is a wonderful place to be based to explore other areas of the beautiful Alps.
Ski Resorts - There are several French Alps Ski Resorts within just a couple of hours’ drive of Grenoble. You can reach the trendy resort of Val d’Isere in just two hours, although Bozel is closer. La Morte is also about 45 minutes to the south.
Chartreuse Natural Park - This is an area just north of Grenoble blessed with stunning Alpine views. You can reach the heart of the park in under an hour from Grenoble, passing by the Chamechaude Mountain. You can then loop back via Volron and be back in Grenoble in under two hours.
The Vercors Massif - This is another awe-inspiring alpine landscape easily accessed from Grenoble. Head to Lans-en-Vecors, then weave your way up and down through the passes towards Saint-Romans for a full day out. The mountains are also crossed with several other roads, offering several amazing drives.