Grenoble is surrounded by mountains. To the north lies the Chartreuse, to the south and west the Vercors, and to the east the Belledonne range. Grenoble is regarded as the capital of the French Alps.
Grenoble is exclusively built on the alluvial plain of the Isère and Drac rivers at an altitude of 214 metres (702 ft), and as a result the city itself is extremely flat. Mountain sports are an important tourist attraction in summer and winter. Twenty large and small ski resorts surround the city, the nearest being Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse, which is about 15 minutes' drive away.
Historically, both Grenoble and the surrounding areas were sites of mining and heavy industry. Abandoned mills and factories can be found in small towns and villages, and a few have been converted to tourist attractions, such as the coal mine at La Mure.
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