Essential Guide to Saint-Etienne France: Saint-Etienne is in the eastern central France in an area known as the Massif Central in the region of Rhone-Alpes. It is capital of the Loire Department and is about 30 miles (50km) from Lyon.
In 2016 Saint-Etienne will be one of the host cities for the UEFA European Football Championship 2016™.
Saint-Etienne has always had a close relationship with industry and technology. It is a former mining town which has a strong industrial history, a centre for the production of arms, textiles and it’s here that the first french bicycle manufacturing began more than 100 years ago.
When mining ceased, the city reinvented itself as a centre of design excellence and it’s this bold outlook that’s evident everywhere in the city today. There are sculptures, murals, incredible modern buildings and one of the largest assembly of Le Corbusier (Swiss architect, pioneer of modern architecture) designed buildings anywhere in Europe.
In 2010, Saint-Etienne gained UNESCO recognition as a “City of Design”, a recognition of its modern renaissance and contemporary look. There are bright yellow blocks of offices, frescoes on walls, strange sculptured trees and quirky artwork all over the city.
It is not on the main tourist route but for fans of architecture and modern design, there’s plenty to see and do here. Not far away is glorious countryside offering a chance to get out of the city and explore and enjoy the rural splendours of this part of France.
What to do in Saint-Etienne
There are more than a dozen museums – most based around the ever present design theme of the town. The Cite du Design, Museum of Art and Industry, Le Corbusier Site, Firminy are three of the best. A little bit more off the wall is the Museum of Firemen and the Musée des Verts, dedicated to the local football team. You’ll discover that the people here are football mad and “The Greens”, their team have superstar status.
Fancy a break from city life? Head to the Gorges de la Loire and enjoy a boat ride, swim or relax in the beautiful countryside. Close by is Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez charterhouse which dates back to the 13th century and is classified as among the most beautiful villages in France.
Where to eat and drink in Saint-Etienne
The weather is good in this part of France, plenty of sunshine and long summers so there’s a thriving terrace culture. Restaurants and bars are dotted throughout the town but if you head to the Places Jean Jaurés and Rue de Martys de Vingré in the centre of town – you’ll find a cluster of bars, restaurants and cafés in a pleasant setting.
Get around by tram and bus, you can buy a city pass from the tourist office that covers you for transport and access to the museums etc.
Where’s the football stadium and Fanzone in Saint-Etienne
The Fanzone will be located near the main train station. From here you can take a tram to the football stadium Geoffroy-Guichard which is known locally as “Le Chaudron” – the Cauldron, due to the heat that the fans give off on match nights!
How to Get to Saint Etienne
By train: The main train station, Saint-Etienne Châteaucreux, is in the heart of the business area about 10 minutes hilly walk from the city centre. Direct TGV journeys to/from Saint-Etienne and Paris take just 2 hours and 45 minutes (4 return journeys every day). Trains to Lyon take from 50 minutes (there are two stations in Lyon).
By air: Lyon Saint-Exupéry International Airport
Saint-Etienne Tourist Office Website, address: 16 Avenue de la Liberation, centre of town.