We had quite a lazy start to the morning, but that was fine because I knew that the cable car doesn't start running until 11am on Mondays anyway. It was another beautifully sunny day when we stepped outside our hotel (the building in the picture below). It looks quite impressive until you realise that we are staying in one of the rooms on the fourth floor, which are basically in the attic and just have a skylight in the roof rather than an actual window.
We walked into the centre of Grenoble, towards the cable car station.
There was a bit of a queue when we arrived, but it moved quite quickly. There are two sets of four little bubble cable cars that go up and down the mountain, and the journey each way probably only takes 5 minutes or so.
Each cable car holds six people, but when it was our turn we found it was quite a tight squeeze! We were packed in with some overly cheerful Americans, one of whom started singing "We all live in a yellow submarine" as we went up!
The glass in the windows wasn't clear enough to take photos through as we ascended, but there were some wonderful views as we went really high across the river. Soon we were at the top of the hill and able to go out on a terrace, from where we got our first complete view of Grenoble from above.
When we'd been down on the ground, Grenoble had felt like quite a small town. But now that we were up above, we could see that it's actually a huge city.
After a while we realised we could see down to the old town, the church with the pointy roof being the clearest landmark.
We also had a great view of the cable cars coming up and down.
I'd read on the internet that there were some easy walking trails from the cable car station, but although they were supposed to be waymarked, we had some difficulty finding signs which corresponded to any of the instructions on the leaflet we had. Having failed to find the trail we were originally looking for, which was supposed to lead around some of the fortifications to an old powder store, we instead decided to follow a path which was leading towards some caves.
The signs weren't very good here either, and so initially we walked straight past the caves and found ourselves at another viewpoint instead.
We enjoyed the view for a while and then turned around to head back to the cable car station. No sooner had we done so, then we spotted the caves up a path to our right.
As far as we could tell from the information boards, these caves are not natural but were excavated by the French army in the eighteenth century as part of the defence system for the fortress on the hill.
It turned out you could walk inside them and have a look around.
There were some great views out of the various holes in the rock.
I thought the caves would be a dead end, but it turned out that there was a series of steep staircases leading further down into the depths of the hill. Tim led the way.
I was less sure about whether it was a good idea!
The stairs were really very steep and there wasn't a handrail to hold onto, but they were at least well lit.
When we eventually made it to the bottom, we found ourselves in a long tunnel.
Luckily there was light at the end of it!
It was nice to emerge out into the open again
We'd bought a one-way ticket to the top of the hill, which cost under €6, so our plan was to walk back down to Grenoble. Having survived the caves, we set about finding a path which would take us downwards. On the way, we walked under the cable car line several times and got some good views of the bubbles going up and down.
The path down led around the military fortifications on the hill, but to be honest they didn't seem particularly impressive; at least not to me, as I was comparing them to the hill fortress in Kotor!
At one point the path merged into some sort of aerobics trail. Tim experimented with the equipment
As Grenoble got nearer, we were able to get a good view of the river Isère.
Eventually we got back down to one of the main gates into the old town.
We strolled along in the shade of the buildings for a while...
...before finding a nice restaurant to eat lunch. We both ordered the menu of the day, which included a salad, macaroni bolognese and icecream for €13.50. I opted not to have the salad!
We had a lovely view while we sat outside and ate
We went back to the hotel for a while to cool off after that, before heading out again for a stroll in the evening. I wanted to find Grenoble's cathedral, which we seemed to have missed on our explorations of the old town so far. Unfortunately we got a bit lost and initially ended up in a housing estate, before seeing a church tower on the horizon and deciding that must be the one we were looking for.
We headed towards it, but established it was just a normal church, albeit a pretty one.
Finally we succeeded in making our way back to the old town and tracking down the real cathedral.
It actually didn't look very cathedral-like!
But it was in an attractive square
On the way back to the hotel we realised belatedly that the cathedral wasn't far from the part of the old town we already knew, and we could have got there quite easily. Never mind!
We've had a lovely day in Grenoble and tomorrow will be travelling onwards to Chambéry.