Grenoble, France with Kids
Nestled in the in the French Alps, you will find the lovely city of Grenoble. This mountain town is famous among winter sports enthusiasts as it was host to the 1968 Winter Olympics. However, you don’t need to be a winter enthusiast to enjoy the city ith the kids as Grenoble is beautiful year round.
Stendhal, Grenoble’s famous author, claimed that there’s a mountain at the end of every street. So, if you enjoy constant views of snow-capped mountains, then you will love Grenoble. Luckily, this livable city is actually quite flat for being in the mountains. We visited during a cool autumn weekend, but even though many shops had just closed, there were several cafes serving delicious brunches. It was here I had the biggest cup of coffee in my life at Pain et Cie- it was served in a small bowl! It’s easy to enjoy the cafe atmosphere here, the cool mountain air makes a welcome retreat in a warm cosy cafe buzzing with people really enjoyable. In fact, France’s second oldest
coffee shop is located here- Cafe de la Table Ronde. While taking the family out for dinner in a French restaurant might sound expensive, you could do what we do and take the family out for afternoon shared-desserts.
Top Family favourites in Grenoble, France
The Bastille is a former fortress located high up above the city of Grenoble. The views from up here are magnificent, but just as fun are the “Bubbles” cable cars that you take on the way up. The “bubbles” are the world’s first urban cable car. The actual shape of the cable car has evolved over the years and are now a group of several round spheres that fit 6 people per car. The cable cars offer great views over the city and have been designed to be all-abilities friendly. Once you have arrived at the top - explore the Bastille. There are a couple of small museums as well as different locations around the fortress to get a great view of Grenoble and the surrounding mountains.
I think, however, that families will be interested in the adventure park that is part of the fortress. Kids from the age of 5 (1 meter height minimum) will have an absolutely fun time here with all the activities they offer. This park is especially great for older children and teens as many of their activities cater to them. Make sure you check the their website for opening hours and days, so you are not disappointed. No boring fortresses here that’s for sure!
There are a couple fancy restaurants at the top, but these is a family friendly cafe that serves the usual sandwiches, treats, and my favourite- waffles!
You probably wouldn’t expect to find a world class museum in the middle of the Alps, yet, the Museum of Grenoble is considered to be France’s oldest museum of contemporary art- being the home to paintings by Picasso, Kandinsky, Warhol, and Matisse. However, it also has a collection of ancient Egyptian art, work by Delacroix and Renoir, and an outdoor sculpture garden.
These gardens once belonged to the Duke of Lesdiguières and are located next to his former residence. Lucky for us the gardens are now public and the dukes former home after being a hotel for many years is now owned by the city and has been converted into Maison International (international house). The gardens are beautiful and if you are visiting in summer they come to life with festivals and markets. It’s a great place to hang out with kids for a bit.
Outside of Grenoble
In the mountains outside of Grenoble there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the snow with many towns offering family friendly activities. While many of the popular resorts near Grenoble offer children’s activities, you might be interested in the small mountain villages of Vaujany and the neighbouring towns of Villard-de-Lans and Corrençon-en-Vercors which are host to a number of family-friendly activities. The towns have creches and children’s clubs as well. These small villages offer a variety of winter activities, but also host a number of summer programs.
Grenoble is a great way to experience a France that is a bit off the tourist track while still enjoying all the charms that this part of the world has to offer.
If you are in the north of Italy and want to experience somewhere less touristy with the kids
then I suggest visiting Mantova. You will find not only the culture that you are craving for here but you will also find a beautiful living city.