This industrial city in eastern-central France isn’t on the map for many tourists. For most of its life Saint-Étienne has been a hotbed of mining and manufacturing, but is now reinventing itself as a hub for the arts: The Manufacture-Plaine-Achille is a whole district of former factories turned over to the creative industries.
You can literally go deeper into Saint-Étienne’s coal-mining history at the Musée de la Mine, while football fans can pay homage to one of Europe’s great clubs, AS Saint-Étienne at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. Fresh air and nature are also in easy reach at the Pilat Regional Park with mountain peaks and deep forest you can access right from the city’s southern suburbs.
Lets explore the best things to do in Saint-Étienne:
1. Musée d’Art et d’Industrie
There’s no quicker way to acquaint yourself with the city’s culture and history than by poking around this museum for a couple of hours.
Among the industrial exhibits is the large gallery about bicycle manufacturing, which began on a large scale in Saint-Étienne in the 1800s.
You’ll see the technical evolution of the bike with the help of some antique prototypes.
For hundreds of years the city was also famed for its weapon-making , and there are 350 guns to view, drawing on a cache of more than 3,000 which is the largest outside Paris.
A huge space is also devoted to Saint-Étienne’s textile industry, which won fame for its ribbon-making and presents the skills and machinery needed for this trade.