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Saint or St Étienne - home of art and design

The city of Saint Étienne (or St Etienne or Saint Etienne) lies in eastern France in the Loire department of the Rhône-Alpes region. It is not only thought of as a centre of industry (which indeed it is) but it is also home to the greatest collections of modern art outside of Paris. Further to this, it is a city whose "raison d'etre" is design. It prides itself on developing through design, both in terms of couture and commerce.

Surrounded by stunning countryside

As well as all this urban activity, it is important not to overlook the fact that Saint Étienne is set in some of the most stunning and diverse countryside that France has to offer. Around Saint Étienne there are lush green hills and valleys, rivers and lakes and even snow-covered mountain peaks in sight.

A place of history

Like many great French cities, Saint Étienne deserves its place in history, and still has much of this rich past to disclose to visitors. The ancient parts of the city have some fascinating and very beautiful sixteenth century houses, built in the traditional colombage (half-timbered) style. There are many with Juliet balconies, and these, especially when lit up at night, prove that Saint Étienne is not a city devoid of romance... far from it! The old quarter of St Jacques is especially lovely, as is La Place du Peuple.

Saint Étienne's trams

The city of Saint Étienne is remarkable also for its trams. There was a time when most French cities had trams, and they were a major form of transport until they became unfashionable. Unlike most cities, however, who ditched their systems and pulled up the tram lines, Saint Étienne hung on to the tramways. Her faith in the system was vindicated when, years later, the other cities realised their mistake and recognised the value of the tram systems, and they turned to Saint Étienne for help and advice to reinstall the trams.

Museums, museums...

Saint Étienne has a number of really excellent museums to visit... and even if you are not really a museum aficionado these should prove worthy of your time. The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is considered second only to the one in Paris, and contains exhibits from Picasso and Andy Warhol. The Museum of Art and Industry offers the history of armaments (Saint Étienne came to prominence as a huge armaments manufacturing centre) and silk production amongst other fascinating local histories to discover, while the Museum of the Mines chronicles the rich past of coal mining which was once the lifeblood of the city.

City life in Saint Étienne

Saint Étienne is a bubbling cauldron of life, and there is plenty to enjoy. There are a massive number of restaurants and bars, of all shapes, sizes, prices and styles. The arty set should find themselves in seventh heaven, as the city fulfils its billing as a centre of art and design, and attracts artists and forward thinking architects from all over Europe.

Sports on offer

There are many sports accessible within the city limits, such as tennis, swimming, bowling and others, with still more easily accessible just outside. There is golf, horse-riding in the countryside close to the city and some excellent walking. Fishermen will love the opportunities afforded by the multitude of lakes and rivers which criss-cross the region... and don't forget that it is not too far to the ski slopes either. There is something for everyone here!

How to get there

To fly to St Étienne is very easy, as there is an airport in the city itself, which is served by budget airline Ryanair. Nearby Lyon also has direct flights from the UK, and offers a greater variety of airlines which include British Airways, Air France, bmi, bmibaby and easyJet. Train travel will take you from London on the Eurostar to Paris, then the TGV will take you to Saint Étienne... as easy as that!

Property prices and availability in and around Saint Étienne

As with any big city, prices vary considerably depending on the location within the city that you are seeking to live, with some areas more fashionable and sought after than others. Generally, however, you should find prices quite reasonable in Saint Étienne and the surrounding areas, as the department is little known to foreigners and could be set to become more popular in the near future.

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Saint Étienne AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Saint Étienne?

Saint Étienne is found in the east of France, in the south of the Loire department.

Saint Étienne Property Map

IN THE REGION OF RHÔNE-ALPES

Rhône-Alpes Guide

Rhône-Alpes Property Map

IN THE DEPARTMENT OF LOIRE

Loire Guide

  Loire Map


Population: 185,000


Access: By air: Fly to Saint Étienne or Lyon. By rail: The TGV runs four times a day from Paris to Saint Étienne. By road: From Clermont Ferrand the city is accessed from the A72.


Economy: The economy is based on industry. The town is also a university town and a seat of learning in the worlds of business and sciences. The third major economic force is art and design.


Interesting fact: Saint Étienne is home to one of France's top football teams, the Stéphanois.


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