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Inside the ‘Capital of the Alps’: With its snowy mountains and gourmet food, Grenoble makes for a great weekend break. Here’s how to enjoy it for under £100 a night…

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Nicknamed the ‘Capital of the Alps’, Grenoble, in the Auvergne-Rhones-Alpes region of France, makes for a wonderful weekend break. 

The often-overlooked city, population 450,000, has a spirited past: it was where protesters rose against Louis XVI in 1788, and was a hotbed of the Resistance during World War II

Now Grenoble is a charming spot to while away a couple of days between the Isere and Drac rivers.

Grenoble, the 'Capital of the Alps', makes for a great weekend break

Grenoble, the ‘Capital of the Alps’, makes for a great weekend break

Where to stay

Maison Barbillon

On a side street near the station, Maison Barbillon has small stylish rooms and a bright and breezy feel. A free coffee machine in the reception is a plus, as is complimentary afternoon cake. A vinyl record player is also provided with Beatles and Pink Floyd LPs. Doubles from £60 (maisonbarbillon.com).

RockyPop Hotel

This has a modern, lively and colourful look with a big, open-plan restaurant and bar that’s home to table football and retro computer games. Rooms are slick and comfortable, with mustard yellow, grey and cobalt blue decor. If you’re in a hurry, the bar snack menu includes £8.50 pizzas. Doubles from £82 (rockypop.com).

Grenoble, which has a population of 450,000, often gets overlooked  

Hotel 1924

With art deco design and minimalist rooms featuring wide beds and baths (in all bathrooms), Hotel 1924 is a hideaway between the old town and the station. The sleek downstairs bar offers cocktails featuring Chartreuse, a local tipple made by monks. Doubles from £86 B&B (1924hotel.com).

OKKO Hotels Grenoble Jardin Hoche

Close to the old town, this modern hotel offers comfortable, ‘urban cocoon’-style rooms with free wifi and Nespresso machines. The exterior has an unusual appearance – a bit like a tall, thin slice of cake. Inside, expect a cocktail bar, restaurant, fitness room and sauna. Doubles from £67 (okkohotels.com).

What to see and do

Ride ‘The Bubbles’

Above, Grenoble’s famous cable car pods, which each carry six passengers  

Grenoble’s cable car opened in 1934 and was updated in 1976 with five distinctive circular pods nicknamed Les Bulles (‘The Bubbles’), each carrying six passengers. They’ve become a city symbol, and this fun ride glides up to the Bastille fortifications. At the top, there’s a restaurant (o2-restaurant.fr) and the Museum of French Mountain Troops (museedestroupesdemontagne.fr). Return tickets £8.

Piece de la Resistance

The Resistance and Deportation Museum tells the story of the strong local Resistance movement during World War II, plus the horrific events of the Holocaust. Grainy pictures feature Resistance leaders, many of whom were captured, while sections on concentration camps are harrowing. (free entry, grenoble-tourisme.com).

Go for a hike or climb

Fine half-hour hikes are to be had above the cable car near the Bastille – and for those feeling daring there’s a via ferrata (climbing route). It’s suited to beginners but ‘may give you a bit of a vertigo feeling’; guided trips £39 (www.vertical-aventure.com/en).

Piece de la Resistance Viva la Revolution!

Head to the Museum of the French Revolution in the town of Vizille to learn about Grenoble's spirited past

Head to the Museum of the French Revolution in the town of Vizille to learn about Grenoble’s spirited past 

Learn about Grenoble’s part in the events of the 1780s at the Museum of the French Revolution in the town of Vizille, a 30-minute bus ride south of the centre. The museum is within a fabulous 14th-century chateau.

A tipple or two

Get lost among the labyrinthine lanes of the old town popping into jolly little bars serving good value wines (£3.40 a glass) and draft beers (£4.10 for a half litre). Don’t miss the fun Le Tonneau de Diogene, with 24 draught beers and accompanying saucisson/bread boards (£5.60); 6 Place Notre Dame.

Buy some antiques… and gloves

Grenoble is the former glove-making capital of France, but now there’s only one artisan left: Gant Lesdiguieres, founded 1885, has exquisite leather gloves from £77 (ganterie-grenoble.fr). Also explore the cluster of city centre antique shops.

Where to eat

Le Boeuf au Comptoir

On a corner near the River Isere, this no-nonsense restaurant serves frogs legs, salads and steaks. Dishes come with dauphinoise potatoes, a regional speciality. Rump steak with a blue-cheese or onion sauce is £21.50 (perfectly cooked). A bottle of good Cotes du Rhone is also £21.50. 17 Avenue Felix Viallet (le-boeuf-au- comptoir.fr).

Le Seize (XVI)

Look no further for an elegant spot for lunch (or dinner), though the lunch menu is especially appealing; three courses from £19. On my visit, tables were busy and the cauliflower soup, leg of duck with seasonal vegetables, dauphinoise potatoes, wine gravy and sweet potato puree, followed by mango eclair, made for a fine meal.

16 Rue de Strasbourg.

Cafe de la Table Ronde

Dine at Cafe de la Table Ronde, which has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere

Dine at Cafe de la Table Ronde, which has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere

This is one of the oldest restaurants in France, dating from 1739. The ambiance is relaxed and welcoming, with banquette seating, swift service and tempting menus. Six oysters, steak and dauphinoise potatoes and a chocolate fondant came to £29. Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, local author Stendhal and singer Edith Piaf have dined here.

7 Place St Andre (restaurant-tableronde-grenoble.com)

Le Cafe de la Place Championnet

In an arty neighbourhood, this is great for coffee or an evening beer/cocktail, with its simple wooden tables and scuffed wood floor. A latte or cappuccino is £3.25. Food is not offered, but the proprietor lets you bring in a snack from the patisserie across the way. Cocktails from £6.90.

1 Place Championnet.

Getting there

Wizz Air flies from Luton to Grenoble from £44 return (wizzair.com), Ryanair from Stansted (ryanair.com) and Easyjet from Gatwick (easyjet.com). Airport buses take 40 minutes to the centre from £27.50 return (actibus.com).

Wizz Air flies from Luton to Grenoble from £44 return (wizzair.com)

Wizz Air flies from Luton to Grenoble from £44 return (wizzair.com)

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