Grenoble in Autumn
Back in September, which feels like a long time ago now, my boyfriend and I went on a long weekend trip to France to catch the last of summer, celebrate his birthday, and explore a new place together.
I’ve been to France a handful of times before, but never to the French Alps region. We have a habit of choosing a travel destination based on the cost of flights, and Grenoble kept coming up as one of the cheapest for our dates. After some researching I found it was a popular place for skiers… of which we would not be partaking in.
But we booked it anyway with no idea what to really expect!
We got up Friday morning, not at the crack of dawn for once because I actually booked sensible flight times and didn’t need to leave at 2 in the morning and headed down to Stansted airport. I had a delicious lunch at Itsu and despite a slightly delayed flight, the journey went smoothly.
We were in awe of the scenery from the moment the aeroplane touched down and spent most of the bus journey into the city just gazing at the mountains. Having grown up in Norfolk and now living in the Midlands - mountains are still a novelty to me!
Stendhal once said about Grenoble that there was a mountain at the end of every street - he wasn’t wrong!
Once we had found and checked into our hotel, we turned our attention to food. We headed to a nearby restaurant and took a seat on a table outside. France was warm, and it did turn cooler as it got later, but by no stretch was it cold!
The waiter was lovely, recommended us a gorgeous white wine (when in France…) and the food was delicious too! Being able to see the mountains from our table, despite being in the middle of a city, was wonderful!
We got up on Saturday morning and opened the curtains to clear blue skies and sunshine. The forecast was amazing for September - high 20s and sunshine - and this definitely wasn’t wrong! After a slow morning with coffee and getting ready, we headed to the old town in the city to have a wander, before buying some food from a supermarket for a little picnic in a beautiful park. If you’ve read my travel posts before, you’ll know that one of my absolute favourite things to do when travelling is to grab some food from a local supermarket or bakery and head to a quiet spot of the city and picnic. I love people watching and taking in the environment, it’s just so blissful.
After we’d had some lunch, we got the cable car up to Le Bastille. This is one of the must-dos in Grenoble - it’s not too expensive, and even cheaper if you opt for a one way ticket and walk back down the hill (it’s not extremely strenuous!)
The view from the bubble cars was stunning - but the view from the top of the hill was one of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen in my life!
Luke and I spent the rest of the day up the Bastille - even until after sunset! We took a million photos, hiked up the hill even further, went through some caves, sat and watched the world go by in the city below while enjoying the last of the Summer sun. Such a beautiful afternoon!
We stayed up Le Bastille, wandering around and exploring for hours, and then we noticed the sun starting to go down. Realising what a beautiful sunset we would witness up there, we found a spot to sit and watch and threw on a jumper and waited for the incredible landscape to fall into darkness.
It was magical.
Sunday threatened storms so having packed poorly and included no warm/weather appropriate clothes we decided to scrap the plan of renting out bikes and have a slow, more relaxing day of a wander around the city. We explored a big park, took lots of photos around the city and grabbed some lunch in the old town at a bakery. Being a Sunday, the city was very quiet and there wasn’t any shops open but it was still nice to explore and actually, sometimes it’s nice to wander a calm, peaceful city rather than being barged and bumped into by billions of tourists.
In the afternoon, the clouds darkened and the winds picked up so we decided to dash back to our hotel room and chill out. The storm raged outside and the clouds were so thick the mountains disappeared from view.
It cleared up in the early evening so we headed back out to get pizza! Normally I wouldn’t be a fan of just grabbing pizza when you’re on holiday - unless you’re in Italy! - but when doing some research about Grenoble I heard that the pizza strip was not to be missed. This wasn’t hard to find - it’s along the bank of the river opposite the cable car, and is a row of one Italian Pizzeria after another. So we picked a restaurant (I can’t remember which one unfortunately!) and tucked into pizza and wine.
Our final day was Monday, but we had a late flight back so the whole day to make the most fo the city before catching the coach back to the airport. After checking out of our room but leaving our bag there, we headed to a cute cafe we’d spied the day before to have bagels and chai lattes. Chai latte is my all time favourite autumn drink and it was bloody delicious - as was the bagel!
After brunch, we wandered around some shops and of course I bought some trousers and a tshirt from Zara because I have little self control when on holiday!! Then we went to Amorino’s for a chocolat chaud (hot chocolate!). I had one of these in Strasbourg back when I was on my year abroad and it was incredible - really thick, gloopy, rich chocolate so I insisted we needed to get one to warm up. We then spent a couple of hours wandering around Musée de Grenoble. It’s worth noting that the museum is free for people aged 18-26! There’s lots of famous pieces of art, including works from artists such as Picasso, Warhol and Monet.
I was super sad to be heading home! I will admit that France is not always that high up on my list of places to visit - but I actually adored the little city of Grenoble. It was so so beautiful nestled in the alps, the people were kind and didn’t seem to mind my extremely limited and appalling French, and it was not a super touristy place nor mega expensive. It felt a bit like a hidden gem! I would definitely recommend the city for a weekend away - whatever time of year!