Any visit to Grenoble, the capital of the Alps, would not be complete without a ride in the cable car. Affectionately known in the town as ‘les bulles’ (‘the bubbles’) because of the car shape, the cable car runs from the centre of town near the River Isere up to the fortified Bastille. Officially known as the Grenoble-Bastille cable car (Téléphérique de Grenoble Bastille), it takes you to all the attractions of the Bastille and some fabulous mountain trails.
First opened in September 1934, and with a major refurbishment in 1976, the cable car runs four ‘bubbles’ in the winter and five in the summer (two sets, one up and one down). Each bubble can carry six passengers sitting outward so that everyone has a good view of the panoramic vista of the Alps.
The Bubbles: Stats
The cable car carries over 300,000 passengers per year and apart from a 20-day safety audit runs all year round (9am to 12pm every day). The cable car is powered by a 220hp electric motor. It carries passengers some 263m up to the Bastille at a speed of around 6 m/s. The journey takes between 3 and 4 minutes. The cable car runs 4,000 hours per year. In 1976 it became pulse-driven, moving in a continuous rotary motion – although mercifully slows down while in the stations.
It means you have to hop on and off quickly and drag the kids and dogs with you (speaking from personal experience of course!)
The Bubbles are a lovely way to get up to the fortified Bastille. The view from the top is fabulous and you can get some really good photographs of the town. You can take dogs in the cable cars for €2 return.
Adults are €5.60 one way or €8.20 return. Children are slightly cheaper. The station in the town is just beyond the Jardin de Ville on the bank of the Isere river.
Attractions at the top, which I will discuss in separate posts, include:
- A high ropes or parcour school
- The Museum of the Troops de Montagne
- An art gallery
- A gift shop and information centre
- A conference centre
- Two very good restaurants
- The grotto caves
- The Memorial of the Blue Devils (Troops de Montagne)
At the top, there’s a host of walking trails – some of which head back down to the town if you’d like a nice walk.
There is also a lovely little snack bar that does exceptionally good hot chocolate, mocha and strong French roast coffee. Oh, and it does lovely home-made soup, a great croque monsieur and the most enormous sugar waffles you have ever seen!
For more information please visit the Bubbles’ homepage here