Beautifully situated on the Drac and Isère rivers, and surrounded by mountains, Grenoble, the self-styled "capital of the Alps", is a lively, modern city, home to four universities, with more than 50,000 students.

In the Middle Ages, the Princes of Dauphiné held court here, until the province was annexed by France in the fourteenth century, and the city is also famous for the Journée des Tuiles, a local uprising in 1788 which is held to be the first act of the French Revolution. Grenoble's prosperity was originally founded on glove-making, but in the nineteenth century its economy diversified to include mining, cement, paper mills, hydroelectric power and metallurgy. Its international profile was boosted in 1968, when it hosted the Winter Olympics, and today, it's a centre of chemical and electronics industries and nuclear research, with the big, new laboratories of the Atomic Energy Commission on the banks of the Drac.

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