Saint-Etienne Tourist Activities
Saint-Etienne Airport is located approximately 12km, or 7 miles from the city of Saint-Etienne, and in the town of Andrézieux-Bouthéon. It is therefore known as the Saint-Etienne-Bouthéon Airport, and has the official code of EBU. Although a small airport, it provides an important gateway for tourists visiting the Loire department of France, which is famous for several attractions. This department is also part of the Rhône-Alpes region of the country, that is listed as the second-most popular area in France for tourism. Visitors will also be surprised at the range of Saint-Etienne attractions available, and will find several interesting locations to visit nearby.
Saint-Etienne is located approximately 60km to the southwest of the larger city of Lyon, and forms part of the Massif Central area of France. The city’s location can also be described to be in eastern central France, and the major cities of Grenoble, Clermont-Ferrand, Valence and Chambéry all lie within a hundred kilometres of Saint-Etienne. Many smaller communities are found in the nearer surrounding area, and form part of the many attractions for people visiting Saint-Etienne. Saint-Etienne is the second largest urban area of the Rhône-Alpes, and is the capital city of the Loire department. The city has a population of around 180,000 people, but over 300,000 residents are found in the Metropolitan. Running through the city is the Loire River, the longest river of the country, and nearby, the Loire gorges present a fascinating display of biological richness. The Rhône-Alpes region is also famous for its two national parks, and six regional natural parks, including the Pilat.
Saint-Etienne Attractions – Museums
There are four museums in Saint-Etienne which are popular attractions, and most often thoroughly enjoyed by their visitors. One of the smaller museums, the Musée du Vieux St Etienne is all about the history of the town. It is managed by the Association of History and Heritage of Saint-Etienne, and is housed in a mansion of the XVII th century that features beautiful coffered ceilings. The Museum is also known as the Museum of Old Saint-Etienne. A rich collection of works is displayed at the Musée d’Art Moderne, many of which are from the twentieth century. The Modern Arts Museum features over 19,000 masterpieces, making up one of the largest collections in the country. Short movies can also be watched at the museum to find out more about the creators of the artworks.
The Musée de l’Art et de l’Industrie was recently renovated and expanded, and has three floors of weaponry, fabrics, cycles and other items which relate to the various industries of the region. The weapon collection of the museum is even the second largest in France, after that of the Army Museum in Paris. It has the largest collection of creative tape, machinery and tools of the textile industry, and the first French bike was manufactured in Saint-Etienne. The cycles at the museum are mainly from the time shortly after the Second World War. The Musée de la Mine is far from the dull and lifeless place many think it to be. Old elevators and a little train take visitors into the heart of the mine, and the hanging room is another intriguing part of the museum. It traces the mining history of the city, and is well worth a visit.
More Saint-Etienne Attractions
The Cathedral of Saint Charles Borromeo is an attraction of a religious nature, and is a Roman Catholic church that was constructed between 1912 and 1923. It is of a primitive neo-Gothic style, and features a bell tower and an organ for the choir dating back to 1930. The building, however, remains unfinished, as there were meant to be a total of four bell towers, a dome and more internal and external decorations.
The Planetarium de Saint-Etienne is a more modern attraction, and was the first planetarium to be opened in the Rhône-Alpes region, in 1993. It was also the first fully digital planetarium in France, and in 2012, it became the first 3D planetarium in the country. The first film that was released at the planetarium in 3D was the ‘mystery of mysteries’, by Darwin. The next to show will be a 3D version of ‘Planets, travel in the solar system’. The facility is completely dedicated to the wonderful world of stars, and is a great outing for the whole family. For an attraction of the more energetic variety, the Boulder House Salle d’escalade offers all kinds of climbing walls and apparatus for height enthusiasts. Furthermore, Saint-Etienne is quite famous in the chocolate-making industry, with a number of significant chocolate factories and shops. The Chocolat des Princes was founded in 1897, and a Weiss chocolate factory was set up in 1907. There is also the Escoffier chocolate factory in nearby Fouillouse.
Areas of attraction nearby Saint-Etienne
The Pilat Regional Nature Park to the east of Saint-Etienne is the ideal place for anyone who enjoys nature, as well as various outdoor activities. It has been a regional nature park since 1974 and features a diverse range of fauna and flora. Some of the animals in the Pilat include beavers, wild boars, wood-pickers and migratory birds such as the Gray Heron. Day trips can be organised to see the park, on horse-back or on foot. Beginner or confirmed riders can enjoy the trails, and hiking paths which vary in degrees of length and difficulty are available.
Another superb family outing is to the Espace Zoologique at Saint-Martin-la-Plaine, accessed by the A47 north (exit 11) from Saint-Etienne. The zoo was created in 1971, and has a large variety of animals, including lions, tigers and gorillas. The park specialises in the maintenance and reproduction of primates, reproducing endangered species and preserving the environment with green technology. The site of Le Corbusier Firminy is another attraction nearby. The entire site is classified as a historical monument, and consists of a housing unit, a municipal stadium, the church of Saint-Pierre, a House of Culture and Youth and a pool.
Saint-Etienne attraction details are available from the Saint-Etienne Airport information desks, or from the Office de Tourisme de Saint-Etienne, at 16 avenue de la Libération.