Underrated Travel Destinations: Grenoble
Grenoble, known in France as "the Capital of the Alps", is a beautiful little city that lies at the foot of the mountains. It's in easy reach of skiing/hiking/climbing opportunities, with lots of sights to see and things to do - and yet I very rarely meet anyone non-French who has visited or even heard of it. I experienced Grenoble the way all cities should ideally be experienced: by visiting someone living there (admittedly an Australian friend doing her Erasmus year at the university - still counts). It's a really great size as it's no metropolis but is still big enough to have plenty of diversity in shopping and food and nightlife, but you can just as easily hop on the cable car and be in the fresh mountain air with a magnificent view within a few minutes. It's a student town, and visiting the mountain-flanked campus of the multiple universities is well worth the tram ride. It also means there's a great variety of nightlife, something I've found that French student towns are pretty good at (next up: Lyon).
The main attraction is of course the Bastille, the fortifications that sit on the mountainside above Grenoble and offer an amazing view out over the city and beyond towards the snow-capped mountains. Getting up there in the fab little cable cars is half the fun, but there are also plenty of walks to be done round and about the Bastille, as well as a terrifying old smugglers' tunnel passage through the mountains in which I had an experience reminiscent of what the Fellowship of the Ring went through in the Mines of Moria. The Museum of Grenoble is another French favourite, a fantastic space with a really excellent and well-curated collection of art and general history of the city - it's definitely up there in my list of top European galleries. And it's not just an internal tourism hub, as two of my friends spent years abroad living and working/studying in the city and both attest that it's a great place to live where the novelty doesn't simply wear off after a weekend. Anyone who's into snow sports might have far more to say about the city, but in short I highly recommend. Hop on a train in Paris and give Grenoble a visit.