Saint-Étienne (Sant-Etiève in Arpitan) is a city in the central eastern part of France, 60 km (40 miles) southwest of Lyon. Located in the Rhône-Alpes région, Saint-Étienne is the préfecture (capital) of the Loire département. It is situated in the Massif Central.
In the 16th century, Saint-Étienne possessed an arms factory, and it was this industry which accounted for the town's importance, though it engaged also in the manufacture of ribbons and passementerie from the 17th century. (During the French revolution Saint-Étienne was renamed Armeville ("Arms town") because of this activity.) Later still it became a coal-mining centre and more recently has been known for the manufacture of bicycles. Saint-Étienne was the seat of a post office in 1825 and in 1832, and a relay station in 1832. It did not really develop to any degree until the 19th century.
In the first half of the 19th century, it was only a chief town of an arrondissement in the département of the Loire, with a population in 1832 numbering 19,672 in the east canton and 13,392. Concentration of industry locally prompted these numbers to rise rapidly to 110,000 by about 1880. It was this growing importance of Saint-Étienne that led to its being made seat of the prefecture and the departmental administration on 25 July 1855, Saint-Étienne became the chief town in the département and seat of the prefect, usurping the position which had hitherto belonged to Montbrison. This latter was reduced to the status of a chief town of an arrondissement. Saint-Étienne had absorbed the commune of Valbenoîte and several other neighbouring localities on 31 March 1855.
Population of the city (commune) at the 1999 census was 180,210 inhabitants (177,300 inhabitants as of February 2004 estimates). Population of the whole metropolitan area (in French: aire urbaine) at the 1999 census was 321,703 inhabitants.
Inhabitants of Saint-Étienne are called stéphanois in French. They are named so because "Étienne" is French equivalent of the Greek Stephanos (Stephen in English).
The Saint-Étienne diocese was erected only in the 1970s, formed by the arrondissements of Saint-Étienne and Montbrison, constituting thus the greater part of the department of the Loire. Hitherto the entire Loire had been part of the Lyon diocese since 1801. There were consequently no united and no significant obsolete jurisdictions nor any diocese resulting from the system set up by the 1790 Civil Constitution of the Clergy.
St. Étienne used to be the capital of the French bicycle industry. A major bicycle wheel manufacturer Mavic is based in the city, and at some point frame manufacturers such as Motobécane and Vitus were also based here. The city often hosts a stage of the Tour de France.
In summer 2005, the Tour de France passed through St. Étienne. Lance Armstrong won the time trial (contre-la-montre) stage, his only stage win of his 7th and final Tour win.
The city is home to three museums, of which the Musée d'Art Moderne, has one of the finest collections of Modern Art in the world. It is surpassed only by the equivalent museum in Paris and New York's MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in terms of content. The other museums are Musée de la Mine, and Musée des Ponts et Chaussées.
Saint-Étienne is notable also for its tramway. During the , almost all other French cities got rid of their tramways, only Saint-Étienne and Lille kept their systems. This went full circle as gradually many French cities began to realise the benefits and reinstall their networks, whilst Saint-Étienne simply bought new trams and helped other cities with its experience.
Saint-Étienne was the birthplace of:
It was also the place where Andrei Kivilev died.