Visit Isere, France
Isere is best known for the winter sports, mountain passes and ski resorts in the east of the department. A large part of the department has impressive mountain scenery making it a popular destination with outdoor enthusiasts for most of the year.
Isere: an introduction and tourist guide
The Isere department is situated in the heart of the Rhone-Alpes region of south-eastern France, and based around the city of Grenoble and the Rhone River. It is a department of varied and stunning scenery, and tourism is a very important source of income and local industry.
Visitors to Isere typically visit for the wide range of outdoor activities available in great scenery, both in summer and winter, but there are also an interesting selection of towns and villages, castles and religious monuments to explore during your visit.
Broadly, the south-east of the department is within the French Alps while moving towards the centre and the north-west of Isere the mountains are less high, albeit still very attractive as we cross the cliffs, steep-sided valleys and lower mountains of the Vercors plateau to the west of Grenoble.
The town of Grenoble is the centre of cultural activity in Isere, with numerous museums and galleries to explore.
Just outside Grenoble to the south is the Chateau of Vizille surrounded by lovely gardens and parkland and holding the Museum of the French Revolution.
The small town of Mens is about 50km south of Grenoble and also merits to be explored.
A substantial part of the Ecrins National Park falls within the south-east of the department and is much loved - and much visited - for its dramatic and beautiful mountain and glacier scenery.
Other villages of interest include those at Cognin (next to the Cognin gorges), Méaudre and Saint-André-en-Royans to the west, Corps and the famous pilgrimage site of Notre-Dame-de-la-Sallette to the south, and the villages of Saint-Christophe, Venosc and Besse in the mountains to the south-east of Isere.
The part of the department to the north-west of Grenoble and around Vienne is generally of less interest to visitors, but still has some interesting highlights to discover.
Heading towards the north of Isere from Grenoble you pass through the extensive Chartreuse region of forested valleys (the Chartreuse Regional Natural Park) and the famous Monastery of Grande Chartreuse (not open to the public).
Alternatively, to the west of Grenoble you can enjoy the lovely scenery of the Vercors Regional Natural Park. As well as the scenery, particular highlights in this region include the scenic suspended houses in the village of Pont-en-Royans to the west of the department.
There is also a stunning abbey to visit a little north of Pont-en-Royans at Saint-Antoine-l-Abbaye, while south-east of the town we recommend the fascinating cave system at Choranche caves.
Further north-west the environment changes again as you reach the hills in the region around Paladru Lake - the lake is a popular summertime destination and offers a wide range of water based activities.
North of here the popular Walibi Theme Park is to the east of La Tour-du-Pin
Towards the north-west border, Vienne is an important city just south of Lyon (Note that the important city of Lyon is just outside the north-west border of Isere but you should visit the city when in the northern Isere).
Also in this area we suggest you visit the village a little to the south at Montseveroux, while the medieval town at Cremieu is in the far north of the department. Other villages that we recommend include those at Morestel and Saint-Chef.
Places to Visit
Selected places to visit in Isere
Market towns & days in Isere
all markets in morning unless otherwise statedAllevard: Thursday
Bourgoin-Jallieu: Thursday & Sunday
Echirolles: Thursday & Sunday & Friday
Fontaine: Tuesday & Thursday & Sunday & Saturday
La Mure: Monday
La Tour-du-Pin: Tuesday & Saturday
Le Bourg-d'Oisans: Saturday
Le Grand-Lemps: Tuesday & Friday
Le Pont-de-Beauvoisin: Monday
Le Pont-de-Claix: Sunday
Le Touvet: Saturday
Roussillon: Wednesday & Sunday
Saint-Egreve: Tuesday & Friday
Saint-Martin-d'Heres: Wednesday & Saturday
Selected tourist destinations in the Isere department
The following sites have received official "tourist classifications"...
4* Towns in Bloom
Towns of Art and History
Sites of Natural Beauty
Listed 'Remarkable Gardens'
Regional Natural Parcs
towns classified as Recommended Detours
Villages classified as "most beautiful villages"
French version: Isere (Francais)