Isère Tourism

Literary Isère

Travel across Isère in the footsteps of writers. In the four corners of the territory, there is a place, a site, a landscape, to remind us that Isère has been a source of inspiration for many writers. Stendhal is the most famous of Isère’s writers, but many other illustrious authors also found inspiration in Isère.

Discover the historic centre of Grenoble in the footsteps of Stendhal

"Suddenly you see an immense landscape, comparable to Titian's finest. In the foreground, the castle of Vourey. On the right, the Isère, winding endlessly (...). Above this plain, the most magnificent perhaps of which France can boast, is the chain of the Alps, and the granite peaks are outlined in black red...". This is not from a tourist brochure, but an extract from Stendhal's Memoirs of a Tourist (1837). The writer, while sometimes critical of his home city of Grenoble, was far from insensitive to the beauties of his native land.
Marked by heritage plaques in French and English, visit sites in Grenoble that had a particular influence on Stendhal's life. Along the route, explore the places that helped shape the renowned 19th-century writer: his birthplace, the collegiate church of Saint-André, the Café de la Table Ronde, the former Palais du Parlement, the Jardin de Ville, and his grandfather, Dr Gagnon’s apartment, now the Stendhal Museum. Walking time approx. 1 hr 30 mins.

The Stendhal Museum

Housed in the apartment of Dr. Gagnon, Stendhal's grandfather, in the old town centre of Grenoble, the Stendhal Museum features a permanent exhibition of main works recreated in the setting of the apartment as it might have looked in Stendhal’s childhood. The future writer’s heart and mind were sparked here. The museum opens into a large Italian-style salon with a natural history room, characteristic of 18th and 19th century apartments of the enlightened bourgeoisie; a summer room; a small study or reading room; and a terrace with a pergola overlooking the Jardin de Ville.
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Brangues, Village of Literature

The small village of Brangues in the Balcons du Dauphiné became a literary village thanks to both Stendhal and poet/diplomat Paul Claudel (1868–1955, brother to Camille Claudel). Claudel bought the Château de Brangues from the de Virieu family in 1927, where he lived until his death in 1955. While the castle is only open on Heritage Days and Brangues, Village of Literature days, Paul Claudel's tomb in the Japanese garden on the grounds is open all year round.
In the village of Brangues, follow in the footsteps of Antoine Berthet, a seminary student who had an affair with Madame Michoud, which inspired Stendhal for his novel "Le Rouge et le Noir".
The Association Brangues Village de Littérature runs the Espace Claudel-Stendhal offering permanent and temporary exhibitions on the literary duo (April–early December; admission free), and organises guided tours of the village all year round (min. 5 people). The tour takes in the house where Berthet was born to the house of Madame Michoud de la Tour, up to the tomb of Paul Claudel, passing by the church where he liked to meditate.
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Pupetières castle in Châbons

In the 19th century, the Château de Pupetières inspired poet Alphonse de Lamartine (1790–1869), during one of his many stays with his friend Aymon de Virieu. Lamartine liked to meditate in front of the ruins. And it was here that he composed his famous poem Le Vallon: “Ah! It is there, surrounded by a rampart of grass, That bounds my horizon but suffices for me, To which I like to direct my step and, alone, within nature, Hear only the ripples and see only the skies.”
Alphonse de Virieu, son of Aymon and godson of Alphonse de Lamartine, sold the Château de Brangues to Paul Claudel in 1927 which enabled him to rebuild the Pupetières castle in Châbons that had been all but destroyed during the Revolution.
The Château de Pupetières opens daily from 2 pm to 6 pm mid-July to mid-August for guided visits.
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Mont Aiguille in the Trièves, also called Mont Inaccessible due to its high limestone cliffs, captured the imagination of Renaissance writer François Rabelais (died 1553) after spending a year in Grenoble in 1535. In his book the Quart Livre, he describes Mont Aiguille as a mountain "in the shape of a pumpkin," "unpleasant to the eye and very difficult to walk on."

Trièves and its "cluster of mountains" is also widely portrayed by Provencal author Jean Giono (1895–1970). In 1931, Giono discovered the village of Tréminis, made up of four hamlets at the foot of the Grand Ferrand, staying at the Hôtel du Ménil, now the Gîte la Margelière. The hamlets, hillsides and summits are described throughout his novels including in Rondeur des jours - The coming of spring: "The sky had become clear and open (...) The high mists had finally parted and Mont Ferrand was born. Now we began to see Great Ferrand again, the harbinger of clear weather, warmth and long days...”.
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Grande Chartreuse Monastery

During the 19th century, the Grande Chartreuse monastery became a resort for many writers: Balzac, Chateaubriand, Stendhal and Dumas. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78), whose passion for herbal medicine is well known, was one of the first to make the trip to the Grande Chartreuse. The journey was demanding - four hours on foot or on a mule from Saint-Laurent du Pont.
The journey towards the monastery inspired both François-René de Chateaubriand (1768 – 1848), who came in 1804, and Alexandre Dumas (1802–70), in 1832, who give epic accounts of their arrival in a storm and in the dark.
In 1890, the young André Gide (1869-1951), came to Grenoble to isolate himself and write his first major work, "Les Cahiers et les Poésies d'André Walter". In it he wrote: "When I first set out to see the Grande Chartreuse, I wandered for a long time, close by, on the road from Saint-Laurent to Saint-Pierre; I kept looking at the fold of the valley where I knew it was sunken, invisible, and at the path leading to it, but I did not approach it, for fear of perhaps deflating a dream that had been cherished for so long".
In one of his finest pieces of fiction, Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) had his "Country Doctor" say about the trip towards the monastery: "I did not expect the majestic spectacle offered by this road, where I don't know what superhuman power shows itself at every step.”
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Spa towns of Allevard-les-Bains & Uriage-les-Bains

For centuries, Isère has also attracted people who come to take the waters, including the novelist Alphonse Daudet (1840–97). In 1879, he took advantage of his cure at Allevard-les-Bains to begin his work, Numa Roumestan. Years later, in 1946, the spa town of Uriage-les-Bains welcomed author Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954), who came to treat chronic arthritis.
Tourist office Allevard-les-Bains
Tourist office Uriages-les-Bains