Grenoble, the ‘Capital of the French Alps’, lies in a flat valley between the Belledonne, Vercors and Chartreuse mountains. This setting forms a fantastic backdrop to a beautiful and historic city. The city, which was founded some 2000 years ago, has a huge number of activities for families. However, during the latter quarter of November and right through December, up to Christmas Eve, the focus has to be the fabulous Christmas markets. Definitely a good night out! We travelled to Grenoble by car, with our dogs, using the pet-friendly Eurotunnel to cross to mainland Europe. We spent four night exploring the city and its surroundings, returning back to the UK on Christmas Eve.
There are four Christmas markets held in different locations through the city centre. From rock music and hippy Afro-Indian crafts at the Place Grenette, to the artisan crafts market at Rue Félix Poulat and the main market with cheese, salami, wine, beer, hot wine and hot cider at the Place Victor Hugo.
The market is open from about 10am and as Christmas approaches opens later and later. We visited during the week preceding the festive day and opening hours were 10am to 10pm. There were also live music events every night on the main stage at Place Victor Hugo. Some very good music as well!
As the sun goes down over Grenoble the markets come alive.
The lights and decorations are fantastic and festive. We bought hot chestnuts, churros, hot wine (hic), Nutella crepes (yummy) and even some very nice Belgian waffles (some were huge).
Best thing is to have dinner at the market on most days of your visit. It’s the cheapest place to eat anyway. From hotdogs, raclette and a variety of pop-up restaurants serving delicacies such as duck dumplings – most tastes are catered for.
We bought a box of tete-chocos to take home. These are chocolate covered marshmallows, similar to Tunnocks tea cakes, but available in about 30 different flavours such as whisky, mint, coconut, coffee etc. We bought a selection for the festivities and relaxed with two hot wines.
Suitably refreshed I sneaked off to the handcrafted jewellery stall to buy a pressie. After a successful purchase I returned to find the kids tucking into a huge bag of churros.
So I had another hot wine…
There were more than 100 stalls across the three sites of the market. You could buy high end artisan jewellery, pocket knives, pens, hats and scarves, cheese, honey, pastries, confectionery, hand-puppets, leather goods, bags, ceramic figures, wooden toys and regional liqueur/wine/beer and nougat.
A very relaxed and pleasing market. The stall holders were brilliant and kind; they all worked extremely hard over long hours. The decorations and lights were lovely and festive. Also there was a great ‘kinder land’ area in the middle of the main market in Place Victor Hugo for children, which should have had a Santa but he was only there at certain times. The markets in Grenoble cater more to the locals than visiting tourists – and this is what makes it a nice place to visit. No mass-produced items – most things are local and handmade. And with around 100 stalls, it’s not overwhelming. A great city with superb Christmas markets – well worth visiting.