One of France’s great footballing cities and renowned for Les Verts’ exploits throughout the 60s and 70s both domestically and in Europe, Saint-Étienne provides some real footballing heritage to back up its status as a host city for Euro 2016.
Sadly, the decline in the city’s footballing form during the 80s was mirrored in its industry, but thanks to a huge deal of regeneration the city is now booming again. Indeed, it is the only city in France to be designated as a UNESCO City of Design, but still retains something of the local, small-town feel to this major hub. You’ll find a great deal of statues, murals, modern design and quirk artworks all around the place.
Nestled in the heart of the Loire, there’s plenty to explore around the region, too, from trips up the Loire to chateaux and idyllic countryside, and with the capital of the Rhone-Alpes region Lyon just up the road, you can have your choice of big city lifestyle or a more relaxed pace of life.
Department - Loire
Population - 175,000
Average June temperature - 17.9 C
All fixtures local time (BST +1 hour).
Tuesday 14 June, 21.00: Portugal v Iceland – Group F
Friday 17 June, 18.00: Czech Republic v Croatia – Group D
Monday 20 June, 21.00: Slovakia v England – Group B
Round of 16
Saturday 25 June, 15.00: Runner-up Group A v Runner-up C
The city is served by its own small, local airport of Saint-Etienne Bouthéon, which is located around 10km north of the city. This is largely for low-cost and charter holiday destinations, however. There are no direct flights to the UK, and little internal French traffic.
If you’re looking to fly to Saint-Étienne, then the nearest large airport nearby is Lyon’s St-Exupery around 60km away (see the Lyon guide for more information on routes and destinations).
The city’s Chateaucreux station offers direct TGV services to/from Paris (4 times daily), with a journey time of around 2 and a half hours. There are also regular connections with Lyon’s Part-Dieu station, with up to 4 departures an hour. The journey takes around 40 minutes, so it is expected that many fans will travel to Lyon and use the local trains on matchdays to reach Saint-Étienne.
Lyon lies 60km to the east via the A47 motorway, from where you can take either the A6 north towards Paris or the A7 south towards Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and the south coast.
To the west, the A72 links the city with Clermont Ferrand and central France.