The Maison Grenoble Montagne centre, Source: Ville de Grenoble

Grenoble centre democratizes and educates the public about mountains

Grenoble centre democratizes and educates the public about mountains

The Maison Grenoble Montagne has a triple purpose: train healthy lifestyle, promote environmental awareness and boost cultural output related to nature

Like most cities in Europe, Grenoble has its own tourist information office. However, next to it there’s an annexe called Maison Grenoble Montagne (Mountain House Grenoble) – a place dedicated to promoting the high-altitude environment surrounding the French metropolis. The Alps form an indivisible bond with the Grenoble identity and that’s why they needed their own space.

The centre underwent a month-long renovation in March to reopen doors with a new purpose at the beginning of April. Its vision and mission are now three-pronged: democratizing access to nature, strengthening the mountain culture rooted in the city and boosting strong environmental consciousness in the mind of everyone who likes to venture out into the wild.

A “third space” for Grenoble residents

Founded in 2001 as Maison de la Montagne, it originally served as a dedicated info centre for hardcore hikers and mountaineers. However, it was eventually incorporated into the local tourist office and now it will act with its own identity with a mission to promote the extra-urban space that towers all around the city.

Although the Alps seem to be within easy reach, activities such as hiking, climbing and skiing tend to remain middle-class or elite hobbies. That is why, one of the new goals of the institution is to make outdoor life something that appeals to everyone, regardless of their social background.

Half of Grenoble residents never go to the mountains, for different reasons,” notes Claus Habfast, municipal councillor in charge of the mountains, as quoted by Frane Bleu. “We want to help them find their way to the mountains - not exclusively the high mountains but also the middle mountains - their natural wealth but also their cultural wealth.”

That’s why, the Maison will offer free training courses to participants who would like to dip their toes in hiking and mountaineering. The “First step in the mountains” courses will teach how to approach outdoor hikes responsibly and safely, and the hope is that the new trainees will become word-of-mouth ambassadors in their communities about the charms and benefits of hiking.

The Maison Montagne is also looking to boost the environmental knowledge of more experienced mountain aficionados by teaching them how to practice outdoor life more responsibly and sustainably while emitting less CO2. There’s always a way, whether it be through recycling their equipment or avoiding the disturbance of wildlife.

The concept of “third space” is what also underscores the new function of the Maison Montagne. In urban parlance, a third space is a space where residents go to spend time outside of their home or work environments – it usually means, places for leisure or skill-upgrading.

The centre itself has been reimagined with a sustainable approach. The premises were designed by Merci René, a cooperative that links reuse actors and companies. They are refurbished with second-hand furniture and recycled wood, for a smaller environmental footprint.

People can work there, others read a magazine or even attend a conference... We want to create a place of life, conviviality and work ", explains Pierre-Loïc Chambon, the director of the centre, as quoted by Gremag.

Within the premises, it will also be possible to find a space where maps will be available, where you can leaf through specialized magazines.

There will also be a 30-seat conference room equipped with a large screen, a space for workshops and a corner giving place to exhibitions. In other words, it serves to remind us that mountain life is the basis of cultural identity, as well.



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