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The history of Grenoble-Bastille’s cable-car

The birth of a great vision
Grenoble, a parliamentary, glove-maker and military town by the end of the 19th century, has also developed other economical activities linked to power production and the discovery of the mountains as early as in the first quarter of the 20th century. Enhancements of communications and progress made in means of transport have made the Dauphinois capital a major leg on the Alps route and a starting point toward the surrounding massifs.
The fall of military obligations as well as a change in people’s minds have helped in the rise of a new idea: climbing up the Bastille, which was, till then, only allowed to the army.
Paul Michoud, vice-president of the tourist information office – supported by Paul Mistral, then Léon Martin, both mayors of Grenoble – launched the idea of a cable-car, as a new potential way to discover a close, though remote, site..

1934: the first urban cable-car in the world
«The Bastille (…) would grant our town a marvelous stroll where people, after an harassing day working (…) would have the opportunity to breathe fresh air and enjoy a breathtaking panorama»: such is, according to Paul Mistral, mayor of Grenoble (1919-1932) the calling of the project. A project that should, according to Paul Michoud, vice-president of the tourist information office, «make the capital of the French Alps as attractive as possible, which will lead to a strong promotion of our tourist center». Beyond the social and economical goals, there is also the prospect of a great technical achievement, as the Grenoble-Bastille cable-car would be the first one to be built in the heart of a town.

From the rectangular cable-cars to the “bubbles”
Designed by the German company “Bleichert”, the first cable-car was made up of 12 sides. They had a 15 people capacity.
1951: an oblong shape and round angles for the second-generation cable-car that can carry 21 passengers.
1976: Made in Grenoble, thanks to the engineer Denis Creissels and the Pomagalski Company. The “bubbles”, made out of metal and Plexiglas, climb the Bastille from a new lower station, all in glass and light, which was inaugurated the same year.

cabine en 1948

The builder
The serious economical crisis of the time led to a protectionist policy. The constructor had to fit demands in cost, technology, various references and… nationality. Against all expectation, a German company, Bleichert, offered the simplest and safest system, as well as the best value for money.

The stations
The architect Jean Benoit designed both stations. They have very different styles, echoing their respective environment. The lower station building is lightened by a vaulting overhanging the quai Stéphane-Jay. The higher station is meant to be massive, in the image of the military buildings.

vue début du siecle
cabine 1935
ancienne gare
gare actuelle
cabine pendant les J.O.
cabine 1935
illustration ancienne cabine
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