10 largest cities in France




Saint-Étienne, Sant-Etiève or Sant-Tiève in Arpitan and Sainté in colloquial language, is a French commune located in the south-eastern quarter of France, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. It is the capital of the Loire department.

With 171,924 inhabitants in 2016, it is the 13th most populous municipality in France and the 2nd municipality of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Saint-Étienne Métropole is the third largest regional metropolis in terms of its population after the metropolis of Grenoble Alpes and the metropolis of Lyon. The municipality is also at the heart of a vast urban area of ​​more than 519,834 inhabitants in 2016, the seventeenth in France by its population, bringing together 117 municipalities.

Long known as the French city of "weapons, cycles and ribbon" and a major coal mining center, Saint-Étienne is currently engaged in a vast urban renewal program aimed at leading the transition from the city stage. industrial heritage from the nineteenth century to that of the "design capital" of the twenty-first century. This approach was recognized with the entry of Saint-Étienne into the network of UNESCO creative cities in 2010. The city is currently seeing a renewal, with the installation of the Châteaucreux business district, the Steel shopping center and the Manufacture creative district. .

Between 1970 and 2010, due to deindustrialization, Saint-Étienne was a city in demographic decline. It was one of the large French cities to suffer from urban decline, the others being Roubaix or Le Havre.

But since 2010, the Saint-Etienne population has stabilized around 172,000 inhabitants and even increased during the last censuses.



Legend has it that in Roman times, the town bore the name of Furanum, from the name of Furan, the river that crosses it. This name would have changed into Furania, a name it would have carried until the Middle Ages.

The first written records date from 1258, the town is named Sancti Stephani de Furano (Saint-Etienne de Furan).

The city known for its weapons factories was temporarily renamed Armeville or Commune d'Armes during the French Revolution.

Saint-Étienne was for a long time a secondary town, less influential on the administrative and political level than Montbrison, which was prefecture before it, and even than Feurs, capital of the Loire from 1793 to 1795. It was not until 1855 that Saint-Étienne, because of its rapid industrial and demographic development, became the capital of the department.

On the other hand, it was from the fifteenth century an important center of metallurgical production (bladed weapons then firearms from the Italian wars of François Ier) but also of small metallurgy, with a very varied production, called "clincaillerie". The manufacture of ribbons (trimmings) also developed from the sixteenth century.

At the time of the Industrial Revolution, heavy metallurgy trades and the massive exploitation of coal mines developed there.

At the start of the 20th century, the arms industry was dominated by the Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Étienne (MAS) for military equipment, and the Manufacture française d'Armes et Cycles (Manufrance) as well as many craftsmen for civilian rifles. Despite the closure of Manufrance, there are still a few craftsmen.

The first French railway was built there from 1823. It linked Saint-Étienne to Andrézieux and was used to evacuate coal from the mines towards the banks of the Loire from 1827. A second was built in 1832 between Saint-Étienne and Lyon: it transported freight and passengers.

The city was affected by the bombing of May 26, 1944.

After economic difficulties in the 1980s, the city is undergoing renovation with the project of a heritage city and a Design city.