View of Grenoble, 2002, with the snowy peaks of the
View of Grenoble, 2002, with the snowy peaks of the Dauphiné Alps


Grenoble (Occitan: Grasanòbol) is a city and commune in south-east France, situated at the foot of the Alps, at the confluence of the Drac into the Isère River. Located in the Rhône-Alpes région, Grenoble is the préfecture (capital) of the Isère département. Population of the city (commune) of Grenoble at the 1999 census was 153,317 inhabitants (157,900 inhabitants as of February 2004 estimates). Population of the whole metropolitan area (in French: aire urbaine) at the 1999 census was 514,559 inhabitants.



The city has been known under different names through time:

  • Cularo when the Allobroges build strong walls around the small town in the 3rd Century.
  • Gratianopolis after 380 when the Emperor Gratian visited the city and had the walls improved.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire the city was part of the first Burgundian kingdom, until it was taken by Clotaire I, king of the Franks and a son of Clovis. Later on, it progressively passed into the possession of the Carolingian kings, then the second Burgundian kingdom of Arles and finally became a possession of the counts of Vienne, whose title, "Dauphin", gave the region its traditional name: Dauphiné. The last Dauphin of Vienne sold the region to France in 1349.

Grenoble was the capital of the Dauphiné, a province of France since 1349.


Grenoble is surrounded by mountains: to the north the Chartreuse, to the west the Vercors, and to the east the Belledonne range. As such, it is often visited by the Tour de France.

Science and education

In 1339 the University of Grenoble was founded by Pope Benedict XII and the Dauphin Humbert II (the counts of Dauphiné bore the title of Dauphin), whose charter of privileges stipulated that the university should give instruction in civil and canon law, medicine, and the arts. This first attempt at a university foundered, but it was re-established on sound footing by the governor of the Dauphiné in 1542.

Grenoble is a major scientific center, especially in the fields of physics, computer science and applied mathematics. The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) and several laboratories of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble (INPG), the Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique (INRIA) and the Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique are located in Grenoble. An IEP is located here, the Institut d'études politiques de Grenoble

The presence of a large international community through both foreign students and foreign researchers has prompted the creation of an international school more than a decade ago: the CSI Europole formally situated downtown in the Lycée International Stendhal across from the Maison du Tourisme. Originally only four language sections were available: German, Spanish, Italian and English. It is now one of France's better secondary education centers.


Grenoble is famous for its walnuts, for which it enjoys an appelation of controlled origin.

Grenoble hosted the 1968 Winter Olympics.

Grenoble is also famous for its Italian quarter, the "Quartier Saint Laurent", and the many ski resorts surrounding it.

It is the home of rugby union team FC Grenoble.


Grenoble was the birthplace of:

Twin towns


Grenoble may be accessed by bus , by train or by plane from Saint-Exupéry International Airport, Lyon (circa 1 hour) or Saint-Geoirs Airport (circa 30 min). It is roughly 3 hours on the TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon. Daily direct flights go from Luton to Grenoble (Easyjet).

External links

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