Getting away from it all doesn’t always mean traveling far away. While most people in Europe flock to the coast or big tourism destinations, you can find plenty of things to take you away from it all, physically and mentally, right here in Grenoble! With a little effort, you can discover new things near your home that will make you feel like you are on a real holiday! That’s what we call a “staycation” in American slang!
As an expat living in France, I tend to save my holiday time to visit my family in the United States during the Christmas season. That leaves plenty of weekends and the whole summer to discover what the local Isère region has to offer, and believe me, there are loads of things to explore and discover!
Looking for ideas? Not sure where to go?
Here are just a few highlights waiting to be discovered in our own backyard:
1. Go chasing castles… The region surrounding Grenoble has literally dozens of forgotten medieval castles and forts that you can visit easily on public transport or by bike! Some of them, like the Château de Bon Repos in Haute-Jarrie, are just ruins, but make for a perfect picnic spot surrounded by mountain views. Others, such as the Château de Vizille (shown below), are restored and now house museums. You can even visit three different castles in Grenoble’s neighboring small town, Sassenage ! Let your imagination run away with you when you step foot on these historic sites. Forget the fake castles at Disneyland—children will enjoy these authenthic and mysterious places, once home to real kings, queens, princesses and knights in shining armor!
2. Get into the lake lifestyle: Feeling landlocked and can’t make it down to the Mediterranean? Don’t worry, you can cool off at one of the many lakes in the region, not far from Grenoble! By bus you can go to many of them, such as Lac de Laffrey or Bois Français for sunning and swimming. For windsurfing, the Lac de Monteynard is ideal. For nature watching, sailing, swimming and even a history lesson, Lac de Paladru in Charavines will make you forget you are in the Alps. Most people don’t know there are about 30 different lakes in the Isère region which have clean, cold water for immediate relief from the heat! So dive in!
3. Take a bus to the middle of nowhere: The Grenoble public transportation system (TAG) is very well run, and offers bus lines that whisk you away from the city and into the mountains and countrysides for the same price as a regular ticket! You can visit all 3 mountain ranges surrounding Grenoble, which have hiking trails indicated with yellow signs everywhere you look. Lose yourself in the magical forest trails of the Chartreuse mountains (shown below) by taking bus numbers 60, 61, 62 or 63 all the way to the end and looking for the trail markers. Take the number 15 bus up to small Alpine villages in the Belledonne mountain chain and start your hike there. Or, take bus 49 to Seyssins and begin your hike upwards towards the Vercors!
Of course these ideas are only a small sampling of everything there is to do and see around Grenoble in the summertime. You’ll want to check out the Seven Wonders of the Dauphiné, retrace the story of the French Resistance in the Vercors, and of course don’t miss out on the many music festivals including blues, jazz, rock, reggae and more, which take place in the Summer.
So don’t be jealous of your friends taking their typical French summer holidays. While they’re fighting the crowds on the beaches of the French Riviera, you’ll be relaxing in one of the richest regions in France—Grenoble!
Do you have any other places to share with our readers?
Do you think a “staycation” is viable as a real holiday?
Tell us what you think!