A trip to Grenoble is not complete unless you’ve been up the Bastille. What is it? The Bastille is the name of the fortress and hill 476m above the town of Grenoble. It’s the most popular tourist site of the Grenoble area and welcomes around 600,000 visitors a year!
Whilst approximately half of the visitors to the Bastille take the cable car, the rest run or walk up to the top of the fort taking various different paths to get there. Locals, you’ll find, frequent the Bastille just after a rainy day. This is so that the smog that presides over Grenoble has been cleared by the rain and you get a non-hazy view over the town.
As with many old forts and castles, the location of the Bastille didn’t happen by accident. It was chosen for strategic reasons. The main reason being that the hill the Bastille resides upon is in the perfect place to watch out over the city of Grenoble and, from the hill, you’d be the first to know if anyone was trying to attack.
However, whilst great for looking out on to Grenoble, the location of Bastille put it at risk of enemies firing from the Chartreuse mountain range. To combat this, great big walls with holes for canons to fire out with were built. There’s also a series of caves that are open to visitors today, which allowed troops to move around the fort unseen and plot surprised attacks upon enemy forces.
When I visited Grenoble for my mini ski break on a budget I thought it about time I climbed up the Bastille seeing as I never made it to the top on foot when I did my year abroad there!
Whilst there are many routes to climb up the Bastille, I took the route up from Jarin des Dauphins. Watch the video, or read on to find out more!
Walking the Bastille
Starting at Jardin des Dauphins it’s a picturesque, gentle climb through a well planted park.
Le Jardin des Dauphins is situated at the foot of the Bastille, perched on a cliff close to the Porte de France and is made up of a series of six terraces with walls linked by steps, passageways and paths.
Upon entering the garden there’s a mounted statue of the heroine Philis de la Charce. Ascending the paths from terrace to terrace there’s two tunnels and a spiral tower staircase to navigate before coming out on the other side of a wooden bridge that crosses the moat of the Bastille. From here the <b>Guy Pape</b> park begins.
From here, if you look out over to the cliff you can see the upper section of the Grenoble via ferrata. A narrow climbing path that is open to everyone brave enough to take it on!
Following the windy path upwards there’s plenty of shady spots to take a break and look out between the trees for a glimpse of Grenoble.
There’s plenty of parts of the fort left intact as you climb up the hill. Expect old walls, caves and dark staircases.
The hill of the Bastille counts 5 museums, amongst restaurants and other activities. At the top of the Bastille is the Art Centre, where you can see contemporary art exhibitions. There’s also the museum of Mountain Troops which is installed in vaulted rooms and is full of information on how the Bastille was used by mountain troops many years ago.
After all that walking you’ll want to take a break, so find a nice sun spot and look out over the view for a while. If you’re still feeing active, then head behind the Bastille and continue climbing upwards through the caves!