Grenoble, capital of Isère (and some say the Alps), is surrounded by mountains and climbing. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region in an area known as the Dauphiné, Grenoble’s metro area contains around a half million people while the city itself has around 150,000 people.
The sheer volume of climbable rock is staggering, in every direction. The Chartreuse range is to the north, following the compass around to the east is the Belledonne, around to the Taillefer and way south is the Dévoluy. The Vercors plateau runs west from town (and far to the south). Not far to the east is the Oisans (Ecrins National Park) with La Meije and Aiguille Dibona. Sisteron and Orpierre are within day trip distance.
Town itself has a number of cragging options. A few of the popular spots are: Les Lames, Espace Comboire/Comboire, Fontaine, La Poyat, Les Brieux, and on and on... Limestone is the name of the game here.
Plenty of places to stay from nice hotels to nearby camping, gites and hostels. The city has a few touristy things to do and is an enjoyable place to go out for a bite or a beverage.
A fun diversion is the via ferrata starting at street level and climbing up finish in an archway in the Bastille above town. The via ferrata has great views and is a well set route with several hard and easier options (and boards at the base explain how it all works). There is also a tram which services the Bastille from town. A short series of tunnels behind the Bastille makes for a nice way to descend from either, or, there’s a series of trails down the front side too (nice spot for a jog or hike). Near the base of the Bastille can be seen the Fontaine du Lion et du Serpent, a fountain representing the rivers Drac (the lion) and Isère (the serpent).
With the exception of hiking up to the Bastille, the city itself is fairly flat, making for easy hiking and/or biking.
Tourist Office is at 14 rue Republique, always a good bet for information on lodging and sites.
Espace Montagne is a bookstore with an excellent selection of local and area climbing and hiking guidebooks.
Grenoble has a small municipal airport and is also served by a high speed train from Paris/Lyon: the TGV. For international travelers, it might be more common to fly into Lyon which has a bigger airport and all the usual amenities associated with such.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Grenoble:
This is a fun, classic route which follows natural weaknesses in the cliff while maintaining exposed positions.P1: Start by climbing up to the left leaning ramp and follow that, past an intermediate belay (for the route La Dame de Coeur, etc) and traverse nearly straight left to a belay at the base of a large right facing corner. 5.5 40m.P2: Climb the corner and belay at the top of the dihedral. 5.6 30m.P3: Move up to the right and climb the right facing dihedral belaying at its top, below ...[more]Browse More Classics in International
By Rui Ferreira From: St Ismier (Grenoble), France Jun 1, 2010
It is also possible to fly directly into Geneva, Switzerland from the US and drive to Grenoble. It is about 1.5 hr drive and current road tolls are 14.40 EUROS. Geneva has direct flight service from various airports in the US.
In Geneva rent a car from the French side as it is cheaper than renting a car in Switzerland and then driving it over the border (follow signs for travel to France in Main Terminal (both air and car) to get to these car rental desks; when arriving from abroad you need to clear customs first to access this part of the airport).