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Saint-etienne Travel Guide, France

Saint-Etienne Travel Guide – Geography and Demographics

Saint-Etienne is a little inspirational jewel located in central eastern France, a city located in the mountainous region of the Massif Central in the Rhone-Alpes region. It lies just 60 kilometers away from Lyon and it functions as the capital of the department of the Rhone-Alpes. It has a population of 175.000 with a fairly risen density (2.200 per sq kilometer) and the whole metropolitan area was estimated to have about 320.000 inhabitants. This makes it the 16th French city in size, but its importance exceeds its population ranking, as Saint-Etienne has gained international recognition due to its industries as well as its arts. Just under 120 kilometers separate the city from the French capital, Paris, and accessibility is very high.

Saint-Etienne Travel Guide – The Bicycle Industry

The city has some particular aspects by which it is known in most Saint-Etienne travel guides, some of them being historical and others urban. For example, the city has been known for centuries as “Armeville”, a nickname it got for having an arms industry that gave it its initial popularity. After letting go of the arms business the city turned to bicycles and this also helped improve the postal services of the time. Saint-Etienne even got to be the largest French bicycle manufacturer and wheel producers Mavic as well as frame manufacturers Vitus are still based in the city. Moreover, the city traditionally hosts one of the stages of Tour de France yearly.

Saint-Etienne Travel Guide – The Tramway City

Although the city is traditionally known for its bicycle business, there is another aspect that can’t be overlooked in any Saint-Etienne travel guides: the tram system of the city. This became famous when all cities in France decided to drop theirs in the 20th century out of lack of profitability and the only two cities that kept it were Saint-Etienne and Lille. The others realized all the benefits and started reinstalling tracks for the tramways, while Saint-Etienne just continued improving and offering its experience to the other cities. The Museum of Modern Art in Saint-Etienne is the third most important in the world and has one of the best collections of 20th century pieces, but the town seems to attract with a particular charm, as its name has been used several times by different creators. There is a British pop band named Saint-Etienne as well as a computer game which takes place entirely in the city, so maybe there is a bit of inexplicable mirage surrounding the small French town.

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