Department 38 capital: Grenoble
Main cities/towns: Saint-Martin-d’Hères, Echirolles, Vienne, Bourgoin-Jallieu, Voiron
Formerly the province of Dauphine, Isère has the sprawling conglomeration of Grenoble as its capital, with its 450,000 population making it the largest alpine city.
Coldest city in France
Grenoble is surrounded by four mountain ranges (the Vercors, Chartreuse, Taillefer and Belledonne) and has a reputation for being the coldest city in France in winter, while enjoying 30C summers most years.
Towns and cities in Isère are among the richest in France, with lots of high-technology industry, universities, farming and tourism keeping the population in work and attracting well-educated incomers.
Property speculators cater for this market – there are lots of ads for houses to be built on plots of land near Grenoble, with prices of between €250,000 and €300,000 for a 100m² property with a small garden.
There are few bargains to be had below €50,000 – maybe small village houses in more isolated parts needing complete restoration, but most ads at this level are for viager investment properties.
In the €50,000 to €100,000 range, viager investments still predominate, but you start to get some old farmhouses, with barns to restore – most having steeply pitched roofs to deal with winter snow.
Transport-wise, Grenoble has three autoroutes heading north west, north east and south, with good departmental roads winding through the hills in other directions.
TGVs go direct to Marseille, Lille and Nantes, while Paris-bound passengers usually take TER trains to Lyon first.
The main airport near Grenoble receives a boost every winter with low-cost airlines bringing mainly British holidaymakers in to ski.