Saint-Étienne is a city in the central eastern part of France, 60 km (40 miles) southwest of Lyon. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Saint-Étienne is the prefecture (capital) of the Loire Department. It is situated in the Massif Central.


The city is situated on the Furan or Furens River at the foot of the Pilat Massif. It is around 59 km (37 miles) southwest of Lyon and 53 km (33 miles) from Vienne.


A legend states that in Roman times, it was a settlement with the name Furanum, from the name of the Furan River. The name was then changed to Furania, a name it would keep until the Middle Ages.

The first written traces of the city's history date to 1258 when the town was called Sancti Stephani de Furano after Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne in French).

The town, known for its arms industry, was briefly renamed Armeville or Commune d'Armes (Arms Town) during the French Revolution.

Saint-Étienne was a long secondary town, less influential administratively and politically than Montbrison or Feurs, which was the prefecture of the Loire Department. It was only in 1855 that Saint-Étienne became the prefecture of the Loire Department due to its rapid industrial development and population growth.

However, Saint-Étienne had been an important center for metalworking since the 15th century. Weapons manufacture was predominant with of production of blades transitioning into production of firearms at the time of the Italian Wars of King Francis I. Small metalwork was also present, though, and the manufacture of ribbons and trim also developed in the 16th century.

During the industrial revolution, Saint-Étienne developed heavy metalworking and extensive exploitation of coal mining.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the local arms industry was dominated by the military production of the Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Étienne (Saint-Étienne Arms Works or MAS) and the Manufacture française d'armes et cycles (French Arms and Cycle Works), or Manufrance, as well as numerous small manufacturers of civilian firearms. Despite the closure of Manufrance many of the small manufacturers remained.

The first railroad in France was laid in Saint-Étienne starting in 1823. It linked the Saint-Étienne with Andrézieux to transport coal from the mines along the Loire River. A second line was constructed between Saint-Étienne and Lyon to transport freight and passengers.

The city was affected by the Allied Bombing of France on May 26, 1944.

After economic difficulties in the 1980s, the city is now in full recovery.

Get in

By plane

By train

Saint-Etienne has four train stations:

Saint-Etienne is linked by TGV (fast trains) to Paris (2 hours).

By car

Get around

By tram, trolley & bus

STAS operates tram, trolley, buses and bicycles

Société de Transports de l'Agglomération Stéphanoise, or STAS operates a public transport network and infrastructure in and around Saint-Étienne. Its responsibility is to provide tramway, trolleybus and bus service in the fifteen communes of the Saint-Étienne agglomeration.

By bicycle

The STAS is operating as well an automatic bike sharing scheme called Vélivert. Smartcard needed.


Streets and Public Squares

Rue des martyrs de Vingré

Saint-Étienne has many elegant buildings, several attractive squares and some narrow, pedestrian streets. Here is a list of streets and squares to explore all of which are within walking distance of Place du Peuple. The locations can be found on Google Maps.


Saint-Étienne has an architectural heritage. Here is a list of interesting buildings within walking distance of Place du Peuple.

Museums and Galleries











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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, January 11, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.