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Cities of France - Saint Etienne


Saint-Étienne is the second largest city in the Rhone-Alpes after Lyon and was named after Saint Stephen. 

Located in the Massif Central, just 50km south of Lyon in the Rhône-Alpes region, Saint-Étienne is the capital of the Loire department. 

Tourists visiting the area tend to make a bee-line for Lyon, and Saint-Etienne often misses out.  While it’s not really a tourist town, you’ll still find plenty of interesting places to visit. 

The town centre is based around the Place Jean Jaures, a large square with expansive grassy areas and the Cathedrale Saint-Charles; the Place de la Hotel de Ville, a large square surrounded by impressive buildings, and the Place du Peuple which has long been a favourite in the city. 

The city grew up as an industrial town and through the 16th and 17th centuries, the area was known for the manufacture of arms as well as ribbons. Coal mining then became one of the most important activities.  

With the decline in these traditional industries, St-Etienne has focused on design and new technologies as well as its heritage and culture. It became a 'Town of Art and History' in 2000 and a 'City of Design' in 2010.  The old Arms Factory has been turned into a design centre called the 'Cité du design'. 

Saint-Étienne also boasts three fascinating museums: the Musée d'Art Moderne which has one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art in France, Musée de la Mine and the Musée de l'Art et de l'Industrie.

St-Etienne is a working city and not overrun with tourists.  However, you’ll still receive a warm welcome and find plenty of things to see and do.  As with any French city, you’ll always find a charming café to sip your café, nibble on a croissant and watch the world go by.