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Saint-Etienne

Top French Cities - Saint-Etienne at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Saint-Etienne Metropole Tourism Office at www.saint-etiennetourisme.com.

City region: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Population & what they are called: 170,761 inhabitants (2014 census), called Stephanois

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 5 h 30 min (345 miles) via the A71 autoroute de l'Arverne

  • by train: about 2 h 50 min by TGV from the Gare de Lyon

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Bernard Lavilliers, singer

  • Alain Prost, racing car driver

  • Muriel Robin, actress and comic

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • Saint-Etienne is the only French UNESCO Creative City of Design and the second in Europe after Berlin.

  • Saint-Etienne has its own Statue of Liberty by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the same one who created the one in New York City, albeit a much smaller version, located on the Square Jules Ferry.

Notable sites:

  • Cité du Design – a symbol of the city, located in a former arms factory and now a place of creation, research, training and exhibition for design (citedudesign.col/en/home/)

  • Firminy, a Le Corbusier site – the largest architectural complex designed by Le Corbusier (sitelecorbusier.com/en/)

  • La Chartreuse de Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez – one of the most beautiful Carthusian monasteries, from the 13th century (saintecroixenjarez.com)

Top annual events:

  • Bienniale Internationale Design – one of the major international events dedicated to design, the largest of its kind in France (biennale-design.com)

  • Festival des 7 Collines – music, dance, circus, theater, cinema, artistic and cultural creativity from throughout the world (festivaldes7collines.com/en/)

  • Fête du Livre – one of the most important book festivals in France (fetedulivre.saint-etienne.fr)

Most notable museums:

  • Musée d’Art Moderne – one of the largest European collections of contemporary art and design (mam-st-etienne.fr)

  • Musée de la Mine – a discovery of the world of mining and miners (musee-mine.saint-etienne.fr)

  • Museum d'Art et d'Industrie – at the crossroads of art and history, of techniques and sciences (musee-art-industrie.saint-etienne.fr)

Culinary specialties:

  • râpée – grated potato and cheese galette, served with sarasson (a local seasoned fromage frais)

  • Fourme de Montbrison – a mild cow’s-milk cheese notable for its orange rind and cream-colored pâte streaked with blue mold

  • Nougamandine (or the wrapped version, called Nougastelle) – a popular local treat from Weiss chocolates: crunchy nougatine wafers with a hazelnut/almond praline filling and a green almond coating

Local wines & spirits:

  • Côte du Forez AOC wine – red and rosé wines whose grapes grow in the foothills of the Forez mountains

  • beer – look out for local beers from regional breweries like Brasserie de la Loire and Brasserie Stéphanoise

  • Badoit sparkling water – OK, not a wine or spirit, but still an internationally known bubbly drink with its natural source in Saint-Galmier, a few kilometers from Saint-Etienne

Shopping:

  • city center – as a design capital, Saint-Étienne has lots of local shops and businesses, many of which have been renovated with the help of designer and decorators, and the best of which are rewarded every year through the CommerceDesignSaint- Étienne competition (saint-etienne.fr/concours_commercedesign)

  • La Plateforme – shop which stocks objects linked with Saint-Étienne's history and activities

Most popular night spots:

  • The Club – festive and sparkling atmosphere in a trendy nightclub

  • Rue des Martyrs de Vingré – the street for nightlife: restaurants, bars and clubs for any kind of evening

  • Zenith concert hall – hosts major music and sports events

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • Stade Geoffroy-Guichard – soccer is a favorite activity, played in many parks, but also enjoyed on TV and live at the stadium, home of the local team, Les Verts, and France's first museum devoted to soccer, Musée des Verts (museedesverts.fr)

  • Lac Grangent – the port at Saint-Victor-sur-Loire is one the biggest inland leisure marinas in France, ideal for water sports

  • Parc du Pilat – perfect place for hiking, cycling (part of the city’s history since Paul de Vivie, a local, developed an early derailleur), skiing and more

Local industries:

  • design – from architecture to commerce to the urban environment, Saint-Etienne is steeped in design at every level

  • bicycles – bicycle wheel manufacturer Mavic is based in the city, as are frame manufacturers Motobécane and Vitus

  • start-ups – number one city in the Rhône-Alpes for the creation of start-ups

In Pop Culture:

  • White Wedding (Noce Blanche) – the 1989 movie by Jean-Claude Brisseau, with Vanessa Paradis, about forbidden love

Major 2019 development:

  • Saint-Etienne will hold its 11th Design Biennial, curated by American Lisa White in late March 2019.
Versailles

Top French Cities - Versailles at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Versailles Tourism Office at www.versailles-tourisme.com.

City region: Paris Ile-de-France

Population & what they are called: 85,461 inhabitants (2014 census), called Versaillais

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 30 min (13 miles)

  • by train: about 30 min

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Agnes Troublé, fashion designer, founder of Agnès B

  • Stéphane Audran, actress

  • Bruno and Denis Podalydès, brother actors

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • Because of the Château de Versailles, the town of Versailles was the capital of France from Louis XIV's reign until the French Revolution.

  • In history, Versailles is known as a place where important treaties were signed, such as the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the American Revolutionary War, and the Treaty of Versailles, after World War I.

Notable sites:

  • Palais de Versailles – the opulent ensemble that includes the Palace of Versailles, the Trianon Palaces, Marie Antoinette’s Estate, André le Nôtre gardens and the park (en.chateauversailles.fr)

  • Potager du Roi – the huge vegetable gardens used to fill the table of Louis XIV (potager-du-roi.fr)

  • Académie Equestre Nationale de Versailles – an equestrian show like no other, with horses and riders from the National Equestrian Academy (www.bartabas.fr)

Top annual events:

  • Le Mois Molière – a theatre and music festival promoting the renewal of popular theatre (moismoliere.com)

  • Versailles Jazz Festival – a music event focusing on jazz (versaillesjazzfestival.fr)

Most notable museums:

  • Galerie des Carrosses (Grande Écurie) – a collection of horse carriages, mostly from the 19th century, located in the Great Stables

  • Salle du Jeu de Paume – a museum about the French Revolution

  • Musée Lambinet – the museum of the city of Versailles, located in an 18th-century mansion

Culinary specialties:

Local wines & spirits:

Shopping:

  • Marché Notre-Dame – on alternating days, good for food and household goods

  • Quartier des Antiquaires – aka the Quartier de la Geôle, antique shops set in a cluster of small streets around the old bailiff’s offices

  • Cour des Senteurs – an olfactory trail enabling visitors to discover the world of scents and perfumes

Most popular night spots:

  • Baradoz – pub with a good range of Beligian beers, whiskies and wines, plus excellent cheeses

  • Montbauron – a bar-brasserie with a good selection of drinks

  • O’Paris – a surprisingly charming fusion of Irish and French traditions

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • Grand Musical Fountain Shows – glorious walks through France’s most amazing gardens during which the fountains and jets are active in time with great classical music (chateauversailles-spectacles.fr/en)

  • parks – palace and municipal parks account about 50% of the city and are easy to reach for a run, bike ride, boat ride or moment of calm

  • theater – a good number of stages (Opéra Royal, Théâtre Montansier, Centre de Musique Baroque, La Royale Factory), several associated with the palace, mean there is always good theater and music being performed

Local industries:

  • Craftsmen – Versailles and its surroundings welcome more than one hundred craftsmen working in different disciplines: luthiers, creators cabinetmakers ...

  • Specialized Higher Schools – School of architecture, National School of Landscape, International Institute of Perfume and Cosmetics, school of mural art, school of Fine Arts, Regional Music Conservatory

In Pop Culture:

  • A Little Chaos (Les jardins du roi) – the 2015 film directed by Alan Rickman in which Kate Winslet plays a fictional landscape gardener and Rickman plays King Louis XIV

  • Dangerous Liaisons (Les Liaisons dangereuses) – the Oscar-winning 1988 historical drama by Stephen Frears starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer

Le Havre

Top French Cities - Le Havre at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Le Havre Tourism Office at www.lehavretourisme.com.

City region: Normandy

Population & what they are called: 172,807 inhabitants (2014 census), called Havrais

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 2 h 15 min (125 miles) via the A13 autoroute de Normandie

  • by train: about 2 h 5 min by intercity service from the Gare Saint Lazare

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Jean Dubuffet, artist

  • Raymond Queneau, poet and novelist

  • govy, artist

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • The high standard and historical importance of Auguste Perret’s post-war reconstruction architecture in the city center of Le Havre was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Notable sites:

  • Eglise Saint-Joseph – 12,768 pieces of glass set in an octagonal tower light up this modern church to dramatic effect

  • Maison de l'Armateur – the 18th-century, relic-filled mansion of the architect in charge of constructing Le Havre's fortifications and fountains

  • Appartement Témoin – a historic show apartment to help understand how architects and designers aimed to rehouse the locals after 80% of the city was destroyed in World War II

Top annual events:

  • moZ’aïque – a world music festival with performers from Le Have and around the world (mozaique.lehavre.fr)

  • Dixie Days – a jazz festival that takes place on the beaches of Le Havre

  • Fête de la Mer – a popular festival of events and celebrations revolving around one theme: the sea

Most notable museums:

  • Musée d'Art Moderne André Malraux (MuMa) – the second largest collections of impressionist paintings in France set in a masterpiece of modern museum architecture (muma-lehavre.fr/en)

  • Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle – the thousands of objects on display represent only a part of the original collection, much of which was destroyed in World War II (museum-lehavre.fr)

  • Maison du Patrimoine Atelier Perret – the place for anyone keen about Perret’s work and the architectural principles on which his concrete masterpieces were built

Culinary specialties:

  • cream – a staple of Normandy cuisine, so much so that identifying a food as “Normande” usually means it has cream in it

  • apples – grown in abundance throughout Normandy and a primary ingredient in meals and desserts, as well as drinks

  • seafood – the sea’s bounty, used to great effect in Normandy cuisine, especially oysters, scallops, lobster and sole

Local wines & spirits:

  • cider – produced in Normandy in large quantities and very often drunk with meals as a substitute for wine or beer

  • Bénédictine – A famous herbal liqueur beverage produced in Fecamp, near Le Havre

  • Paillette beer – once enjoyed throughout France (and said to be as old as the history of bread), it had disappeared for a while but now flows again

Shopping:

  • Docks Vauban – Bernard Reichen’s transformation of a 19th-century warehouses into a retail and leisure complex of shops, restaurants and cinemas

  • Espace Coty – the major downtown shopping center

  • Place des Halles Centrales – the central covered market for food and local products

Most popular night spots:

  • Le Volcan – the city's first Maison de la Culture, designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, which is now home to one of France’s national theaters (levolcan.com)

  • Quartier de l'Eure – a revitalized former industrial district now known for, among other things, smart bars

  • Quartier des Halles – a district busy with bars like the well-known Black Café

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • beach – just steps from the center, more than one mile of beach is a local favorite for both exercise and relaxation

  • Jardins Suspendus – a hilltop Vauban fortress transformed into gardens full of flowers and trees from different continents

  • Bains des Docks – Jean Nouvel’s design of this aquatic center creates a sensation of calm and well-being enhanced by the natural light

Local industries:

  • port services – Le Havre is the second largest French industrial seaport in trade volume and 50th largest port in the world, as well as cruise companies’ preferred stop on Europe’s Atlantic facade, and home to the two marinas of Ocean Gateway and Port Vauban

  • petrochemicals – the Le Havre region has more than a third of French refining capacity and provides about 50% of the production of basic plastics and 80% of additives and oils with more than 3,500 researchers working in private and public laboratories

In Pop Culture:

  • Impressionism – the light and water of the port of Le Havre and the Seine estuary inspired many painters, including Claude Monet, whose 1872 painting Impression soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise) gave its name to the Impressionist movement

  • Le Havre – an award-winning 2011 movie, written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki, about what happens when an African boy who arrives by cargo ship is protected by an aging shoe shiner

  • Un chien andalou – the ground-breaking, still-discussed, surrealistic short film from 1929 by Luis

Major 2019 development:

  • Le Havre will be one of the 9 host stadiums to welcome the FIFA Women’s World Cup from June 7 to July 17.

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