Saint-Étienne: Incredible Design Details and Delicious Bites!

Renowned for its design credentials, from the historic and classic to the cutting-edge and contemporary, Saint-Étienne is both a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds, as art and food intertwine in this bustling city. In November 2010, Saint-Étienne joined the UNESCO Creative Cities network as a City of Design – the first French city of its kind - and we found Saint-Étienne to be incredibly innovative, forward thinking and sustainable with its design, not to mention full of interesting things to see, do and eat.

Gare du Saint-Étienne Châteaucreux Station

Built in the classical style in 1855, this colourful and elegant old-style gare is just on the outskirts of the city center and a main entry and exit point to Saint-Étienne. A beautiful exterior concourse is filled with art displays and urban projects whilst inside, original 19th century features have been preserved beautifully.

Le Canopy and Éléphant Dans Un Jeu De Quilles are across the street from one another on Rue Léon Nautin and are great, affordable bistros using local produce to create fine dishes. For light bites and lingering glasses of wine, there’s l’Absinthe, which offers a French twist on tapas. For lunch, we adored La FABuleuse Cantine which is located in the Cité du Design and comprises a wonderful daily-changing menu of delicious dishes which have a focus on sustainability, food waste and veg-centric, alongside great coffee and local beers and wines. For something smaller and cosier, try the cafe Comme à La Maison, where we had coffee, quiche and cake whilst people watching on busy Rue du Onze Novembre.

Site Le Corbusier

In Firminy, we found Site Le Corbusier - Europe’s largest architectural ensemble of the founder of modern architecture’s works. This emblematic site dates back to the post-war boom period in the 1960s and comprises four listed monuments with unique angles, features and colours. Together, they represent a social and urban utopia from the mind of a master. The Cultural Centre was actually the only one completed in the designer’s lifetime and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2016. We particularly adored the functionality of the Housing Unit and were left speechless by the church, the refined elegance of the space and the how light danced around the structure. So special – a must-see, we’re planning to return for one of their special concerts some day!

Atelier Chocolats Weiss

Chocoholics rejoice, because Weiss is one of the best chocolate tours we’ve ever experienced. Experience the art of chocolate making with a hands-on class and a behind-the-scenes tour of the modern facility (opened just two years ago) of the company begun by Eugène Weiss in 1882.

City of Design

Open in 2009, this former site of the Manufacture d’Armes factory has blossomed into the creative quarter of Saint-Étienne. Home to the Saint-Étienne Higher School of Art and Design, there’s also La Platine which within holds a large auditorium, exhibition halls, greenhouse, a media library and a shop.

The Observatory Tower

We were lucky enough to sneak up the 32-metre structure for an unspoilt, panoramic view of the city from the top! A 360º vista allows you to gain a completely different perspective of the city.

The Praluline

You can’t visit Saint-Étienne without trying la Praluline – the iconic sweet bake of the region. At Pralus, they’ve been baking August Pralus’ homemade praline-stuffed sweet brioche since 1955 and they often sell hundreds daily. We liked it so much, we brought one for ourselves and another to take home for family to try!

Demain Les Vins

With over 500 options in this gorgeous wine bar and dining cellar, we really couldn’t tear ourselves away from Demain Les Vins on Bis Cours Jovin Bouchard. This wine merchant has been designed to perfection with high tables, pendant lighting and a modern wrap-around display of a selection of the wines. We enjoyed a glass or two a local wine with some charcuterie – the perfect late-afternoon treat.