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What's there to do in Grenoble?

No one can deny that Grenoble is a small city, but I have never seen such a small town with such a great ambiance where there's so much to do. There aren't parties all over the place, nor are there thousands of nightclubs to go wild, no beach, it's not even that pretty all year-round. But Grenoble and its surrounding areas offer so much to see. You can find something to do no matter what you're interested in. Especially is you come from southern Spain like me.

Depending on the time of the year when your friends come to visit, you can plan all sorts. Especially when it snows, you can go skiing or snowboarding (depending on what you prefer), but that's another matter. The culture of winter sports in the Rhône-Alpes region is almost like a ritual for everyone. I could write an article on that alone.

In this article, I will give you a few ideas of where to travel, such as days out that you could do with your friends so they can have as much fun as you when they come to visit you on your year abroad. I don't want to describe how amazing every place is, I think it's more important that you go out and discover these places yourself.

What are some of the cities or villages you recommend visiting outside of Grenoble?


It's a small village about an hour by train from Grenoble, it is very very pretty. In fact, it's probably the most beautiful of any city outside of Grenoble. It's called the Venice of the Alps, because there is a river (Le Thiou) which crosses the city and flows into a huge lake. There are restaurants and shops along the river and the buildings are made of stone. But Annecy is very small, it's a perfect place to, for example, go and spend the day trying out French cuisine in a restaurant (averaging 10 and 15 euros per person), going for a walk, relaxing by the river, visiting the castle and other monuments. But in the evening, the best thing is to go back to Grenoble to party, and if not, at least have a few drinks at your place or at your friends' homes. It's a nice change of scenery, you'll come back with some beautiful pictures because it's so beautiful and not at all tiring to walk around, leaving you plenty of energy to party in the evening!

To get to Annecy, you can take the train, a rented car, or carpool. With the SNCF discount card for travel throughout all of France, there is also another card only for the Rhône-Alpes region which gives you 50% discount on weekends for you and 4 friends. The return train journey costs up to 20 euros, or there's Blablacar. This is useful for any will be useful for any destination I'll talk about in this article.


There's also a small village near Grenoble where you can spend the day. There isn't much there (I have to be honest), but there are some very pretty gardens and some large gardens can be found on the site of the Château de Vizille. It is now the Musée de la Révolution Française. The entrance is free and there are 3 floors, it is perfect for a small cultural visit near Grenoble. It's 30 minutes-1 hour by train, I can't really remember, but the SNCF (the equivalent of the Renfe in Spain) allows you to go directly to Annecy as well as to Vizille or Paris if you want to go further. It's the perfect way to spend a pleasant afternoon, anything's better than staying at home.

Dent de Crolles

You can spend a day in the mountains an hour away from Grenoble, where you can do some hiking . The Dent de Crolles mountain is 2,000 meters above sea level and is a perfect place to show your friends the kind of excursions you can do in the area. I'm not the sporty-type and I had a bit of trouble climbing, but that was mostly at the beginning. To get to the top there is a big climb and it's quite tiring, but after a while it becomes more enjoyable because there are straighter paths between the rocks and the views are impressive. Be careful when hiking, personally, I'm quite clumsy and I've fallen more than once. I also broke my sunglasses, put on comfortable shoes that are suitable for mountains. If you like climbing you can also stop and climb straight up the mountain whilst being surrounded by nature, have a picnic or get artistic and take some pictures. From the summit, you can see both nature and urbanization, in reality, it makes you a bit dizzy but it's worth it. I've recently gotten into hiking, I would have liked to do more because it's not so easy anymore for me. You have to go by car, or you could use Drivy, a car rental company which is really really good.

It's a bit tiring but there's nothing better than a good shower to help you recover, a meal, and a short nap. After that, you'll have plenty of energy to be able to go out all night long.

Since you'll be part of Erasmus, you'll find the energy from nowhere. Personally, and this is a personal anecdote, I have never seen people with as much energy as those I met in Erasmus. Some of my friends were just as hyperactive as me, luckily! Befriend these people, it's contagious and you will be able to enjoy every moment of each day you spend in Grenoble.

Le Lac de Monteynard

This hike is perfect when the weather starts getting warmer in Grenoble, the Lac de Monteynard is half an hour drive from Grenoble and it is great for picnics . You can bring your own food and spend the day in the sun, taking pictures and relaxing whilst being surrounded by nature. You can even go swimming if you're brave enough. There is also a path in the mountain that leads to the Drac bridge, a bridge that crosses the lake where the view is incredible. It is not a very difficult excursion, it is more of a walk actually, but making these visits are a great way to live each day differently.

And finally, Lyon

If you're not big on nature, and your friends want to travel and see other cities in France, the best and nearest is Lyon. It is the second capital of France and you can get there in only an hour from Grenoble, both by Blablacar and by train. You can see everything, the Institut Lumière (Museum), the Musée des Beaux Arts, the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière (the one which towers over the city) or take a walk in the old part of the city, Vieux Lyon.

I 100% recommend Lyon , either with friends who come to see you and or with your friends from Grenoble. I went there 3 or 4 times because it's a great city. There's a lot more of an atmosphere than in Grenoble and also a lot of Erasmus students. It's a good idea to check out for any Erasmus parties in the city, if there are any, on Facebook groups. In Grenoble as well as in Lyon, there are a lot of nice events all year long : Color Me Rad, music festivals (especially electro), the Lyon Film Festival, the Fête des Lumières (my favourite); the Ojoloco Festival (French-Spanish cinema) in Grenoble, the Fête de la Musique (all over France) in June, etc. If you do a lot of research and planning beforehand, you will be able to do them all and attend other events all year round.

I won't give too much away about Lyon, you'll have to go there and discover the city by yourself, you'll definitely fall in love with it.

These are only some of the possibilities. Once you get there, you'll see there are even more places to visit and even more things to do, like the Lake of Grenoble, a barbecue in the park of the Ile d'Amour, or whatever you fancy.

Being a part of Erasmus is definitely a unique experience. So enjoy each day as if it were your last. Say yes to everything it offers and don't worry about anything.

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