Saint-Étienne: A Charming City of Art and History
The small, charismatic city of Saint-Étienne was founded in 930AD by Hungarian refugees and today is the capital of the Loire region. The metropolitan area is home to just over 500,000 people, with barely a tourist in sight. It’s a beautiful city to spend some time exploring!
The best things to do in Saint-Étienne
The Museum of Modern Art of Saint-Étienne Métropole houses one of the largest collections of art from the 20th and 21st centuries in France. The building was designed by the architect Didier Guichard in 1987 and offers a wide and luminous exhibition space.
The Collection includes works from many different movements such as cubism, surrealism and pop art and encompasses more than 17,000 artworks by prestigious artists such as Pablo Picasso.
There are multiple beautiful historical landmarks in the city centre as well. The Cathedral of Saint Charles Borromeo is a must-see. The church, dedicated to the Saint was constructed between 1912 and 1923 in a primitive neo-Gothic style. However, it was an ambitious project from the start, and remains unfinished to this day.
Back to the north near the Place Jean Jaures is the Quartier Saint Jacques crossed by one of the old pilgrim routes to Compostella. This area is full of 17th and 18th century buildingsand. be sure to walk up the 'Montée du Cret de Roch' for a great viewpoint. The Quartier Saint Jacques is the area to head to for a night out with bars, restaurants and a great ambience.
A Historic ClubThe much-decorated club has won ten Ligue 1 titles, six Coupe de France titles, a Coupe de la Ligue title and five Trophée des Champions (the French Super Cup). Success however will only be remembered by their older fans as their most recent Ligue 1 title came way back in 1981.
Where to go on match day
The best place to enjoy a match day pint has to be the pedestrianised street of Rue des Martyrs de Vingré, where you can drink in a very British, football-friendly atmosphere. You can then choose from a host of eating establishments, from pizzerias to French cuisine, with plenty of terrace dining. If you wish to extend your evening then head onto Place Neuve and party until the early hours.
But, of course, your main aim should be to sample a game in the impressive Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. Having hosted matches for the EUROs in 1984 and 2016,, the 1998 World Cup and even the 2007 Rugby World Cup this place knows how to entertain. It is known as the cauldron due to its foreboding atmosphere, and you can be one of the 42,000 fans piling in every other week.
The stadium is situated just a 10 minute drive from the city centre and tickets to their famous ‘Kop Sud’ stand are available for roughly €13.
But, what about the day after the match? There are plenty of excursions you can go on to venture out of the city!
The Alps are just a few hours away by car, and you can book cheap accommodation and put your ski boots on for a complete change of scenery. Or, if you are still feeling fresh after the excitement of the game, a tour of local wine chateaux could be on the cards.
Those that fancy a tranquil break should check out Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez, a small village situated roughly 45 minutes’ drive from Saint Etienne city centre. Named as one of France’s most beautiful villages, it was originally a Carthusian monastery built in the 13th century. The Monks were forced out by the French revolution in 1792, but the village has remained unchanged.
So next time you’re visiting for a game, you'll know the best places to go in the beautiful French city of Saint-Étienne and beyond.
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