Top French Cities - Saint-Etienne at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Saint-Etienne Metropole Tourism Office at

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 (

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

Top annual events:

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

  • Festival des 7 Collines – music, dance, circus, theater, cinema, artistic and cultural creativity from throughout the world (

  • Fête du Livre – one of the most important book festivals in France (

Most notable museums:

  • Musée d’Art Moderne – one of the largest European collections of contemporary art and design (

  • Musée de la Mine – a discovery of the world of mining and miners (

  • Museum d'Art et d'Industrie – at the crossroads of art and history, of techniques and sciences (

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


  • 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 (

  • 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 (

  • 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

About Top French Cities -

Top French Cities is an association of 29 cities, from regional capitals like Bordeaux to important towns like Avignon and Versailles. They are perfect for young travelers, families and anyone else looking for fun and authentic French experiences that will fit their budget. Most of these cities are university towns with a youthful atmosphere, but all of them reflect the heritage and distinctive flavors of the regions to which they belong. Many are forward-looking too, with historic buildings repurposed to house contemporary art and activity centers like Les Docks in Marseille. Many have created or integrated new, modern museums to contrast with their classical, architectural heritage, like in Nimes, where the cutting-edge Museum of Roman Civilization (Musée de la Romanité) is located across from the historic Roman amphitheater, or in Nantes, where whimsical mechanical creatures are being created, or in the UNESCO World Heritage Site concrete city of Le Havre.


Marion Fourestier
Atout France-The France Tourism Development Agency