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From upper left:  Panorama of the city, Grenoble’s cable cars, place Saint-André, jardin de ville, banks of the Isère river
From upper left: Panorama of the city, Grenoble’s cable cars, place Saint-André, jardin de ville, banks of the Isère river
Flag of Grenoble
Coat of arms of Grenoble
Coat of arms
Grenoble is located in France
Country France
Region Rhône-Alpes
Department Isère
Arrondissement Grenoble
Intercommunality Agglomeration community of the Grenoble Alpes Métropole
 • Mayor (2014–2020) Éric Piolle (Europe Ecology – The Greens)
Area1 18.44 km2 (7.12 sq mi)
Population (2008)2 156,659
 • Density 8,500/km2 (22,000/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 38185 / 38000, 38100
Elevation 212–500 m (696–1,640 ft)
(avg. 398 m or 1,306 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Grenoble (;[1]French pronunciation: ​; Franco-Provençal: Grenoblo) is a city in southeastern France, at the foot of the French Alps where the river Drac joins the Isère. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Grenoble is the capital of the department of Isère. The proximity of the mountains, as well as its size, has led to the city being known in France as the "Capital of the Alps".

Grenoble's history goes back more than 2,000 years, at a time when it was a small Gallic village. While it gained in stature by becoming the capital of the Dauphiné in the 11th century, Grenoble remained for most of its history a modest parliamentary and garrison city on the borders of the kingdom of France.

Grenoble grew in importance through its industrial development, the city having experienced several periods of economic expansion in the last centuries. It started with its booming glove industry in the 18th and 19th centuries, continued with the development of a strong hydropower industry in the late 19th to early 20th centuries and ended with its post-World War II economic boom symbolized by the holding of the X Olympic Winter Games in 1968. The city is now a significant scientific centre in Europe.[2][3]

The population of the city (commune) of Grenoble at the 2008 census was 156,659. The population of the Grenoble metropolitan area (French: aire urbaine de Grenoble) at the 2008 census was 664,832. The residents of the city are called "Grenoblois".

The numerous communes that make up the metropolitan area include the city's largest suburbs, Saint-Martin-d'Hères, Échirolles, and Fontaine, each with a population exceeding 20,000.[4]


  • History 1
    • Antiquity 1.1
    • Middle Ages 1.2
    • Renaissance 1.3
    • From Louis XIV to the French Revolution 1.4
    • 19th century 1.5
    • 20th century 1.6
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • Population 3
  • Main sights 4
    • La Bastille 4.1
    • Palace of the Parliament of Dauphiné 4.2
    • Museum of Grenoble 4.3
    • Archaeological museum of Saint-Laurent 4.4
  • Education and science 5
    • Secondary level 5.1
    • Higher education 5.2
      • Science and engineering 5.2.1
    • Knowledge and innovation community 5.3
  • Economy 6
    • Industry 6.1
    • Companies 6.2
  • Sport 7
  • Transport 8
  • Culture 9
  • People from Grenoble 10
  • International relations 11
    • Twin towns and sister cities 11.1
  • In popular culture 12
  • Gallery 13
  • See also 14
  • References 15
    • Notes 15.1
  • Further reading 16
  • External links 17


For the ecclesiastical history, see Bishopric of Grenoble.


Remnants of the Roman Walls

The first references to Grenoble date back to 43 BC. Cularo was at that time a little Gallic village founded by the Allobroges tribe near a bridge across the Isère River. With insecurity rising, a strong wall was built around the small town in 286 AD.[5]

The Emperor Gratian visited Cularo and, touched by the people's welcome, made the village a Roman city. In honour of this, Cularo was renamed Gratianopolis ("city of Gratian") in 381 (leading to Graignovol[6] during the Middle Age and then Grenoble).

Christianity spread to the region during the 4th century, and the diocese of Grenoble was founded in 377 AD. From that time on, the bishops exercised significant political power over the city and, until the French Revolution, styled themselves the "bishops and princes of Grenoble".[7]

Middle Ages

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the city was part of the first Burgundian kingdom in the 5th century and the second Burgundian Kingdom of Arles until 1032, when it was integrated into the Holy Roman Empire. Arletian rule was interrupted between 942 and 970 due to Arabic rule based in Fraxinet.

Grenoble grew significantly in the 11th century when the Counts of Albon chose the city as the capital of their territories. At the time, their possessions were a patchwork of several territories sprawled across the region.[8] The central position of Grenoble allowed the Counts to strengthen their authority. When they later took the title of "Dauphins", Grenoble became the capital of the State of Dauphiné.

Despite their status, the Counts had to share authority over the city with the Bishop of Grenoble. One of the most famous of those was Saint Hugh. Under his rule, the city's bridge was rebuilt, and both a regular hospital and a leper one was built.[9]

Coat of arms of the Dauphiné after becoming a province of France

The inhabitants of Grenoble took advantage of the conflicts between the Counts and the bishops and obtained the recognition of a Charter of Customs that guaranteed their rights.[10] That charter was confirmed by Kings Louis XI in 1447 and Francis I in 1541.

In 1336 the last Dauphin Humbert II founded a court of justice, the Conseil delphinal (fr), which settled at Grenoble in 1340. He also established the University of Grenoble in 1339. Aging and heirless, Humbert sold his state to France in 1349, on the condition that the heir to the French crown used the title of Dauphin. The first one, the future Charles V, spent nine months in Grenoble. The city remained the capital of the Dauphiné, henceforth a province of France, and the Estates of Dauphiné were created.

The only Dauphin who really governed his province was

  • Grenoble Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Grenoble City website (French)
  • Official tourism office of Grenoble at the Wayback Machine (archived May 23, 2008)
  • Semitag – Transports de l'agglomération grenobloise (French)
  • Comptable Grenoble le site spécialisé pour l'agglomération grenobloise (French)
  • Remembering Grenoble Photography Exposition (English)

External links

  • "Grenoble", Southern France, including Corsica (6th ed.), Leipzig: Baedeker, 1914 
  • "Grenoble", The Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.), New York: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910,  
Published in the 20th century
  • "Grenoble", A Handbook for Travellers in France, London: John Murray, 1861 
Published in the 19th century

Further reading

  1. ^ "Grenoble". Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Graff, James (22 August 2004). "Secret Capitals". Time (New York). Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  3. ^ Pentland, William (9 July 2013). "World's 15 Most Inventive Cities". Forbes (New York). Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Insee – Populations légales 2006". Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  5. ^ Petite histoire du Dauphiné , Félix Vernay, 1933, p18
  6. ^ "Musée Dauphinois". Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  7. ^ Petite histoire du Dauphiné, Félix Vernay, 1933, p. 40.
  8. ^ Petite histoire du Dauphiné, Félix Vernay, 1933, p. 9.
  9. ^ Petite histoire du Dauphiné, Félix Vernay, 1933, p. 27.
  10. ^ Petite histoire du Dauphiné, Félix Vernay, 1933, p. 32.
  11. ^ Petite histoire du Dauphiné, Félix Vernay, 1933, p. 58.
  12. ^ Petite histoire du Dauphiné, Félix Vernay, 1933, p78
  13. ^ Petite Histoire du Dauphiné , Félix Vernay, 1933, p88
  14. ^ Histoire de Grenoble, Vidal Chaumel, Editions Privat, p.68,123,126,223
  15. ^ Petite histoire du Dauphiné, Félix Vernay, 1933, p97
  16. ^ a b Petite histoire du Dauphiné , Félix Vernay, 1933, p98
  17. ^ "Il y a 250 ans naissait Joseph Chanrion (1756-1830)". Union de Quartier Mutualité-Préfecture. 
  18. ^ Petite Histoire du Dauphiné, Félix Vernay, 1933,p115
  19. ^ Petite histoire du Dauphiné , Félix Vernay, 1933, p120
  20. ^ L’histoire de l'Isère en BD, Tome 5, Gilbert Bouchard, 2004
  21. ^ Grenoble, cœur de pierre, Françoise Goyet, Edi Loire, 1996, (ISBN 2840840464)
  22. ^ L’histoire de l'Isère en BD, Tome 5, Gilbert Bouchard, 2004, p40
  23. ^ Exposition internationale de la houille blanche
  24. ^ L’histoire…, Tome 5, Gilbert Bouchard, 2004, p45
  25. ^ a b "Order of the Liberation". Archived from the original on 20 October 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  26. ^ "Ordre de la Libération". 25 February 2008. Archived from the original on 25 February 2008. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  27. ^ "Grenoble en concurrence avec Lyon". Université Lyon 2. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  28. ^ Petite histoire du Dauphiné, Félix Vernay, 1933, p. 67.
  29. ^ "Meteo France: Climate in France". 
  30. ^ "Bienvenue sur". Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  31. ^ General Council of the department of Isere (french)
  32. ^ "Musée archéologique St Laurent". Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  33. ^ "Tourism office - patrimoine religieux". Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  34. ^ "Présentation PowerPoint" (PDF). Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  35. ^ "Pôles de compétitivité". Mairie de Grenoble. 
  36. ^ See official website at the Wayback Machine (archived December 29, 2007)
  37. ^ "Insee – Territoire – Répartition géographique des emplois – Les grandes villes concentrent les fonctions intellectuelles, de gestion et de décision". Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  38. ^ "Chiffres clés Grenoble-Isère édition 2011". AEPI. 
  39. ^ "Official website of the GIANT Innovation Campus". Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  40. ^ "European Institute of Innovation and Technology: Home". Europa (web portal). Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  41. ^ A. Doyon, Xavier Jouvin, inventeur grenoblois et sa famille, Paris, Dayez ed., 1976
  42. ^ "Les Les entreprises récompensées". Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  43. ^ "Comptable à Grenoble, Isère (38)". Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  44. ^ "Mentions obligatoires." Glénat. Retrieved on 1 May 2011. "GLENAT Editions SA 37, Rue Servan BP 177 38008 GRENOBLE CEDEX 1"
  45. ^ The web site of the Rocade Nord lists the two preferred routes, both of which pass under the Bastille:
  46. ^ Annecybernard – Conception et Design Olivier Bellon, Programmation Frederic Chatel. "Noix De Grenoble AOC CING Comité Interprofessionnel". Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  47. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Jérôme Steffenino, Marguerite Masson. "Ville de Grenoble – Coopérations et villes jumelles". Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  48. ^ "List of Twin Towns in the Ruhr District". © 2009 Retrieved 28 October 2009. 
  49. ^ "[via]"Oraşe înfrăţite (Twin cities of Minsk) (in Romanian). Primăria Municipiului Chişinău. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-21. 
  50. ^ "Oxford's International Twin Towns". Oxford City Council. Archived from the original on 2013-08-17. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  51. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  52. ^ "Phoenix Sister Cities". Phoenix Sister Cities. Archived from the original on 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2013-08-06. 


  • INSEE commune file


See also

Grenoble at night from la Bastille
Grenoble from the Vercors ranges
Grenoble (west side) from la Bastille


In popular culture

  • Kaunas, Lithuania, since 1997[47]
  • Sfax, Tunisia, since 1998[47]
  • Constantine, Algeria, since 1999[47]
  • Corato, Italy, since 2002[47]
  • Sevan, Armenia, since 2009[47]
[47] with:twinnedGrenoble is

Twin towns and sister cities

After World War I, one street in the centre of Smederevska Palanka (Serbia) was named French street (Francuska ulica) and one street in Grenoble was named Palanka street(Rue de Palanka). There is also a Belgrade Street (Rue de Belgrade) near the Isère River.

International relations

People from Grenoble

The town also hosts an important comics publisher, Glénat.

Grenoble is known for its walnuts, Noix de Grenoble (fr) which enjoy an appellation of controlled origin.[46]

There are two main art centres in Grenoble: the Centre national d'Art contemporain (also called Le Magasin) and the Centre d'art Bastille.

There are several theaters in Grenoble, the main one being Grenoble Municipal Theatre (Théatre de Grenoble). Others are the Théâtre de Création, the Théâtre Prémol, and the Théâtre 145. Grenoble also hosts Upstage Productions, which performs once a year through an exclusively English speaking troupe.

The main cultural center of the city is called MC2 (for Maison de la culture, version 2), which hosts music, theater, and dance performances.

The Summum is the biggest concert hall in Grenoble, and the most famous artists produce there. Another big hall, Le grand angle, is located nearby in Voiron. Smaller halls in the city include the Salle Olivier Messiaen.

Grenoble hosts several festivals: the Grenoble Jazz Festival in March, the Open Air Short Film Festival in early July, and the Cabaret Frappé music festival at the end of July.


Since 1 October 2014, the city tested 70 electric vehicles to rent (I-Road of Toyota).

A partial ring road around the south of the city, the Rocade Sud, connects the motorway arriving from the northwest (A48) with that arriving from the northeast (A41). A project to complete the ring road with a tunnel under the Bastille as part of the likely routes was rejected after its environmental impact studies.[45]

Highways link Grenoble to the other major cities in the area including the A48 autoroute to the northwest toward Lyon, the A49 to the southwest toward the Rhone valley via Valence, the A41 to the northeast toward Chambéry, the Alps, and Italy and Switzerland.

I-Road in Grenoble

Grenoble can be accessed by air from Grenoble-Isère Airport, Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airport and Geneva International Airport.

The Gare de Grenoble is served by the TGV rail network, with frequent high-speed services to and from Paris-Gare de Lyon, often with a stop at Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airport: though Grenoble is not directly on any high-speed line, TGVs can run on the classic network and enable such connections. Less frequent high-speed trains run to and from other destinations in France, such as Lille Europe and Nantes. Local rail services connect Grenoble with Lyon, and less frequently to Geneva and to destinations to the West and South. Valence and Lyon to the west provides connections with TGV services along the Rhone valley. Rail and road connections to the south are less well-developed.

Within Grenoble, a comprehensive bus and tram service operates 26 bus routes and five tram lines and serves much of greater Grenoble. Being essentially flat, Grenoble is a bicycle-friendly city.

The train station and a tram (lightrail)


The abundance of natural sites around Grenoble as well as the particular influence of mountaineering practices and history make many Grenoble inhabitants very fond of sports and outdoor activities (e.g., mountain trails hiking, mountain bike, backcountry skiing, rock climbing, and paragliding). The Tour de France cycling race regularly passes through the city.

  • Six-Days of Grenoble, a six-day track cycling race since 1971.
  • The via ferrata Grenoble is a climbing route located on the hill of the Bastille in Grenoble.

Grenoble is the home of a rugby union team, FC Grenoble, a football team, Grenoble Foot 38, and an ice hockey team, Brûleurs de loups.

Grenoble hosted the 1968 Winter Olympics. The city is famous for many nearby ski resorts nestled in the surrounding mountains. Stade Lesdiguières is located in Grenoble and has been the venue for international rugby league and rugby union games.


Publisher Glénat has its head office in Grenoble.[44]

The presence of companies such as HP or Caterpillar in the area has drawn many American and British workers to Grenoble, especially in the surrounding mountain villages. The region has the second largest English-speaking community in France, after Paris.[43] That community has an English-speaking Church and supports the International School.

Enterprise, location Number of employees
STMicroelectronics, Grenoble and Crolles 5,979 Semiconductor manufacturing, R&D
Schneider Electric, Grenoble agglomeration 4,915 Electrical equipment, R&D
Caterpillar France, Grenoble and Echirolles 1,865 Construction of heavy equipment
Hewlett Packard France, Eybens 1,814 Computer science
Becton Dickinson, Pont-de-Claix 1,736 R&D and production of advanced systems for drugs administration
Carrefour, Grenoble agglomeration 1,165 Hypermarkets
Capgemini, Grenoble 1,100 Information technology consulting and IT service management
Groupe Casino, Grenoble agglomeration 990 Supermarkets
Samse, Grenoble agglomeration 965 Supplier of building materials
Soitec, Bernin 952 Semiconductor manufacturer specialized in the production of SOI wafers
  • In 2011, the largest employers in the Grenoble metropolitan area were:[42]
Head office of Glénat


  • The town was famous for glove manufacturing, for which Xavier Jouvin (fr) introduced an innovative technique in the 19th century.[41] A few small companies keep producing gloves for a very high end market.


Grenoble is one of the leading European cities in term of high-tech industries, especially biotechnology and nanotechnology. World-renowned enterprises have settled in Grenoble and in the surrounding area such as Hewlett Packard, Caterpillar, and STMicroelectronics. Since 1993 Grenoble can be considered as an international city thanks to the World Trade Center of Grenoble.


Grenoble is one of the co-location centres of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology's Knowledge and Innovation Communities for sustainable energy.[40]

Knowledge and innovation community

Grenoble is also renowned for the excellence of its academic research in humanities and political sciences. Its universities, alongside public scientific institutions, host some of the largest research centres in France (in fields such as political science, urban planning or the sociology of organizations).

In order to foster this technological cluster university institutions and research organizations united to create the GIANT (Grenoble Innovation for Advanced New Technologies) Innovation Campus[39] with the aim at becoming one of the world's top campuses in research, higher education, and high tech.

The city benefits from the highest concentration of strategic jobs in France after Paris, with 14% of the employments, 35,186 jobs, 45% of which specialized in design and research.[37] Grenoble is also the largest research center in France after Paris with 22,800 jobs (11,800 in public research, 7,500 in private research and 3,500 PhD students).[38]

Leti and the recent development of Minatec, a centre for innovation in micro- and nano-technology, only increases Grenoble's position as a European scientific centre.[36]

Other research centres in or near Grenoble include the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), and one of the Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique (Nuclear Energy Commission)(CEA) main research facilities.

Many fundamental and applied scientific research laboratories are conjointly managed by Joseph Fourier University, Grenoble Institute of Technology, and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). Numerous other scientific laboratories are managed independently or in collaboration with the CNRS and the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA).

[35] Grenoble is also a major scientific centre, especially in the fields of

Science and engineering

The city is now an important university centre with over 60,000 students, of which 16% arrive from abroad.[34]

Campuses of the École nationale de l'aviation civile (French civil aviation university), École d'Architecture de Grenoble ( School of Architecture of Grenoble) and Grenoble École de Management (management and business administration) are also located in Grenoble.

The university consists of four separate institutions sharing the campus grounds, some buildings and laboratories, and even part of their administration:

In 1968, the university relocated to a main campus outside of the city in Saint Martin d'Hères (with some parts in Gières). However, smaller campuses remain downtown and in the northwestern part of the city known as the Polygone Scientifique ("Scientific Polygon").

In a 1339 pontificial bull, Pope Benedict XII commissioned the establishment of the University of Grenoble.

Main square of Grenoble's university campus

Higher education

The large community of both foreign students and foreign researchers prompted the creation of an international school. The Cité Scolaire Internationale Europole (CSI Europole) was formerly housed within the Lycée Stendhal across from the Maison du Tourisme, but later moved to its own building in the Europole (fr) district. In the centre of the city, two schools have provided education to the isérois for more than three centuries. The oldest one, the Lycée Stendhal, was founded in 1651[33] as a Jesuit College. In 1673 an astronomical and astrological sundial was created in the main building of the college, called "horloge solaire", which still can be visited today. The second oldest higher education establishment of Grenoble is the Lycée Champollion, completed in 1887 to offer an excellent education to both high school students and students of classes préparatoires.

Secondary level

Education and science

In Grenoble's mairie there is a bust of Stendhal by the sculptor Pierre Charles Lenoir

Located in the Place Saint-Laurent, the collections come from the archaeological excavations done on the site and are dated throughout the 3rd century AD. Situated on the right bank of the Isère, Grenoble Archaeological Museum presents the vestiges permitting to carry up the time until the origins of Christianity. The museum is situated under a Benedictine church of the 12th century. Discovered in 1803 by Jacques Joseph Champollion-Figeac, brother of the egyptologist Jean-François Champollion, the Roman church is one of the first monuments classified in France thanks to the intervention of Prosper Mérimée, historic monument inspector.[32] Since 1978, a systematic excavation has led Loud in the setting of a regional research program on the evolution of the churches during the Middle Ages. After eight years of work, the museum opened 6 May 2011.

Archaeological museum with the vestiges protected by a new cover of glass and metal

Archaeological museum of Saint-Laurent

The city's most prized museum, the Andy Warhol. The museum also presents Egyptian antiquities as well as Greek and Roman artifacts. The Sculpture collection presents works by Auguste Rodin, Matisse, Alberto Giacometti and Alexander Calder. In April 2010, the prophetess of Antinoe, a 6th-century mummy discovered in 1907 in the Coptic necropolis of Antinoe in Middle Egypt, returned to the Museum of Grenoble, after more than fifty years of absence.

Museum of Grenoble

The building now belongs to the Isère Council (Conseil Général de l'Isère). An ongoing renovation project will give this building a new life whilst preserving its patrimonial character and adding a modern touch.[31]

This palace was constructed Place Saint Andre, around 1500 and extended in 1539. It was the location of the Parlement of Dauphiné until the French Revolution. It then became a courthouse until 2002. The left wing of the palace was extended in 1897.

Palace of the Parliament of Dauphiné

Palace of the Parliament of Dauphiné.

Since 1934, the Bastille has been the destination of the "Grenoble-Bastille Cable Car". This system of egg-shaped cable cars known to locals as "Les Bulles" (the bubbles) provides the occupants with an excellent view over the Isère River. At the top are two restaurants and a small military museum on mountain troops (Musée des troupes de montagne).

The first cable transport system, installed on the Bastille in 1875, was built by the Porte de France Cement Company. This cable transport system connected a quarry on Mount Jalla, just over the bastille, and Grenoble. It was abandoned in the early 20th century

"Les Bulles": the cable cars

Although the Bastille was begun in the Middle Ages, later years saw extensive additions, including a semi-underground defense network. The Bastille has been credited as the most extensive example of early 18th-century fortifications in all of France and then held an important strategic point on the Alpine frontier.[30]

The Bastille, an ancient series of fortifications on the mountainside overlooking Grenoble on the northern side is visible from many points in the city. The Bastille is one of Grenoble's most visited tourist attractions and is a good vantage point over the town below and the surrounding mountains.

La Bastille

The Bastille from downtown

Main sights


Climate data for Grenoble-St Geoirs (1981–2010 averages)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 20.1
Average high °C (°F) 5.9
Average low °C (°F) −1.2
Record low °C (°F) −26.1
Precipitation mm (inches) 61
Mean monthly sunshine hours 95 112 170 183 219 255 290 256 193 137 84 72 2,066
Source: Météo France[29]


Historically, both Grenoble and the surrounding areas were sites of mining and heavy industry.[28] Abandoned mills and factories can be found in small towns and villages, and a few have been converted to tourist attractions, such as the coal mine at La Mure.

Except for a few houses on the slopes of the Bastille hill, Grenoble is exclusively built on the alluvial plain of the Isère and Drac rivers at an altitude of 214 metres (702 ft). As a result the city itself is extremely flat. Mountain sports are an important tourist attraction in summer and winter. Twenty large and small ski resorts surround the city, the nearest being Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse, which is about 15 minutes' drive away.

Grenoble is surrounded by mountains. To the north lies the Chartreuse, to the south and west the Vercors, and to the east the Belledonne range. Grenoble is regarded as the capital of the French Alps.

Grenoble with the Dauphiné Alps


In 1968 Grenoble welcomed the Xth Olympic Winter Games. This event helped modernize the city with the development of infrastructure such as an airport, motorways, and a town hall. It also helped develop new ski resorts like Chamrousse, Les Deux Alpes, and Villard-de-Lans.

In 1955, future physics Nobel prize laureate Louis Néel created the Grenoble Center for Nuclear Studies (CENG), resulting in the birth of the Grenoble model, a combination of research and industry. The first stone was laid in December 1956.

This event only intensified the activities of Grenoble's resistance movements. The Germans could not prevent the destruction of their new arsenal on 2 December at the Bonne Barracks. After the Normandy landing, resistance operations reached their peak, with numerous attacks considerably hampering the activity of German troops. With the landing in Provence, German troops evacuated the city on 22 August 1944. On 5 November 1944, General Charles de Gaulle came to Grenoble and bestowed on the city the Compagnon de la Libération in order to recognise "a heroic city at the peak of the French resistance and combat for the liberation".[25]

In September 1943, German troops occupied Grenoble, escalating the conflict with the clandestine movements. On 11 November 1943 (the anniversary of the Saint-Bartholomew".[26] From these events, Grenoble was styled by the Free French Forces the title of Capital of the Maquis on the antennas of the BBC.[27]

Grenoble was extremely active in the Résistance against the occupation. Its action was symbolized by figures such as Eugène Chavant, Léon Martin, and Marie Reynoard.[25] The University of Grenoble supported the clandestine operations and provided false documentation for young people to prevent them from being assigned to STO.

During World War II, at the Battle of the Alps, the Nazi invasion was stopped near Grenoble at Voreppe by the forces of General Cartier in June 1940. The French forces resisted until the armistice. Grenoble was then part of the French State, before an Italian occupation from 1942 to 1943. The relative mercy of the Italian occupiers towards the Jewish populations resulted in a significant number moving to the region from the German-occupied parts of France.[24]

The economic development of the city was highlighted by the organization of the Parc Paul Mistral after the death of the mayor in 1932. The only building of this exhibition remaining in the park is the Tour Perret, which has been closed to the public since 1960 due to its very poor state of maintenance.

Gate of the exposition in 1925

World War I accelerated Grenoble's economic development.[22] In order to sustain the war effort, new hydroelectric industries developed along the various rivers of the region, and several existing companies moved into the armaments industry (for example in Livet-et-Gavet). Electro-chemical factories were also established in the area surrounding Grenoble, initially to produce chemical weapons. This development resulted in significant immigration to Grenoble, particularly from Italian workers who settled in the Saint-Laurent neighborhood.

20th century

On 4 August 1897, a stone and bronze fountain was inaugurated in Grenoble to commemorate the pre-revolutionary events of June 1788. Built by the sculptor Henri Ding, the Fountain of the Three Orders, which represents three characters, is located on the Place Notre-Dame. People in Grenoble interpret these characters as follows: "Is it raining?" inquires the third estate; "Please heaven it had rained", lament the clergy; and "It will rain", proclaims the nobility.[21]

In 1869 engineer Aristide Bergès played a major role in industrializing hydroelectricity production. With the development of his paper mills, he accelerated the economic development of the Grésivaudan valley and Grenoble.

General Haxo transformed the Bastille fortress, which took on its present aspect between 1824 and 1848. The Second Empire saw the construction of the French railway network, and the first trains arrived at Grenoble in 1858. Shortly thereafter Grenoble experienced widespread destruction by extensive flooding in 1859,.

The 19th century saw significant industrial development of Grenoble. The glove factories reached their Golden Age, and their products were exported to the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia.[20]

Fountain of the Three Orders (1897)

During his return from the island of Elba in 1815, Napoleon took a road that led him near Grenoble at Laffrey. There he met the royalist fifth Infantry Regiment of Louis XVIII. Napoleon stepped towards the soldiers and said these famous words: "If there is among you a soldier who wants to kill his Emperor, here I am." The soldiers all joined his cause. After that, Napoleon was acclaimed at Grenoble and General Jean Gabriel Marchand could not prevent Napoleon from entering the city through the Bonne gate. He said later: "From Cannes to Grenoble, I still was an adventurer; in that last city, I came back a sovereign".[19] But after the defeat of Waterloo, the region suffered from a new invasion of Austrian and Sardinian troops.

In 1813 Grenoble was under threat from the Austrian army, which invaded Switzerland and Savoy. The well-defended city contained the Austrian attacks, and the French army defeated the Austrians, forcing them to withdraw at Geneva. However, the later invasion of France in 1814 resulted in the capitulation of the troops and the occupation of the city.

The establishment of the Empire was overwhelmingly approved (in Isère, the results showed 82,084 yes and only 12 no).[18] Grenoble welcomed for the second time a prisoner Pope in 1809. Pius VII spent 10 days in the city en route to his exile in Fontainebleau.

Defensive walls around the town

19th century

In 1790, the Dauphiné was divided into three departments, and Grenoble became the chef-lieu of the Isère department. The city was renamed Grelibre and took back its real name only under Napoleon. Only two abbeys were executed at Grenoble during the Reign of Terror.[17] Pope Pius VI, prisoner of France, spent three days at Grenoble in 1799 before going to Valence where he died.

The city gained some notoriety on 7 June 1788 when the townspeople assaulted troops of Estates General, thus beginning the French Revolution. During the Revolution, Grenoble was represented in Paris by two illustrious notables, Jean Joseph Mounier and Antoine Barnave.

The revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV caused the departure of 2,000 Protestants from Grenoble, weakening the city's economy.[15] However, it also weakened the glove industry of Grasse, leaving the glove factories of Grenoble without any competition.[16] This allowed a stronger economic development for the city during the 18th century. For example, at the beginning of that century, only 12 glovers made 15,000 dozen gloves each year; however, by 1787, 64 glovers made 160,000 dozen gloves each year.[16]

From Louis XIV to the French Revolution

Lesdiguières became the lieutenant-general of the Dauphiné and administered the Province from 1591 to 1626. He began the construction of the Bastille in order to protect the city and ordered the construction of new walls, increasing the city's size. He also constructed the Hôtel Lesdiguières, built new fountains, and dug sewers.[14]

In August 1575, Lesdiguières became the new leader of the Protestants and, thanks to the accession of Henry IV to the throne of France, allied himself with the governor and the lieutenant general of the Dauphiné. But this alliance did not bring an end to the conflicts. Indeed, a Catholic movement, the Ligue, which took Grenoble in December 1590, refused to make peace. After months of assaults, Lesdiguières defeated the Ligue and took back Grenoble. He became the leader of the entire province.[13]

Grenoble suffered as a result of the French Wars of Religion. The Dauphiné was indeed an important settlement for Protestants and therefore experienced several conflicts. The baron des Adrets, the leader of the Huguenots, pillaged the Cathedral of Grenoble and destroyed the tombs of the former Dauphins.

The nobility of the region took part in various battles (Marignano, Pavia) and in doing so gained significant prestige.[12] The best-known of its members was Bayard, "the knight without fear and beyond reproach".

Due to Grenoble's geographical situation, French troops were garrisoned in the city and its region during the Italian Wars. Charles VIII, Louis XII, and Francis I went several times to Grenoble. However, the people had to suffer from the exactions of the soldiers.

François de Bonne, duc de Lesdiguières


At that time, Grenoble was a crossroads between Vienne, Geneva, Italy, and Savoy. It was the industrial centre of the Dauphiné and the biggest city of the province.


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