Located on the Massif Central mountain range in the Rhône-Alpes region of eastern central France, the city of Saint-Étienne is the capital of the Loire department. Formerly known as a mining and industrial center, urban renewal undertaken in recent years has transformed Saint-Étienne into a city of art and culture.
To access the city by air take a flight to the Saint-Étienne – Bouthéon Airport located just 12km from the city or the L’Aéroport International de Lyon – St-Exupéry which is an hour’s drive away.
There are four train stations in Saint-Étienne. Châteaucreux has services running to Lyon and major regional and national centers as well as the TGV high-speed rail line to Paris. The other train stations are Carnot in the city centre, La Terrasse and Bellevue.
If you prefer to drive to Saint-Étienne, take the A72 if you are travelling from the north, the A47 from the east and RN88 if you are driving in from the west.
The city itself boasts excellent public transportation infrastructure, with tram, trolley-bus and bus services running throughout the 15 communes within the Saint-Étienne agglomeration. Bicycles are also available for short-term hire through Velivert, the town’s public bicycle sharing system.
The city was established during the middle ages, named after Saint Stephen. Saint-Étienne rose to significance during the 16th century as a center for the arms manufacturing industry. It later became known for its coal-mining industry, and more recently for the production of bicycles, with manufacturers Mavic, Motobécane and Vitus based in the city. Saint-Étienne also often plays host to a stage of the cycling Tour de France.
Saint-Étienne was granted the title “City of Art and History” in the year 2000, and has several museums. The Musée d’Art Moderne contains one of the country’s largest collections of modern art including works by Warhol, Matisse and Rodin. Musée de la Mine provides an insight into the life of a miner in the former Couriot mines. Musee d’Art et d’Industrie has exhibits of the town’s industrial heritage.
A history of urban transport is on display at Musee des transports urbains. Mémorial de la Résistance et de la Déportation is a museum of the WWII French Resistance. Or for something different, visit the futuristic Planetarium de Saint-Etienne.
For a glimpse of the city’s past Place de Peuple and the 18th century quarter around rue des Martyrs de Vinger as well as the 19th century church L’Eglise Sainte-Marie.