Saint-Etienne is the capital of the Loire department in the Rhone-Alpes region. It is the second largest city in the Rhone-Alpes. Saint-Étienne has a population of approximately 172,000 in the city itself and over 508,000 in the metropolitan area.
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 of 33,000 in 1832. The concentration of industry 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 was an industrial city since 19th Century, centered on coal mining, metallurgy and the manufacture of cycles, arms, machinery and textiles. With its history of industrial modernity, Saint-Étienne, land of creators and inventors, is a constantly changing city, driven by a dynamic linked to the arts and industry. Saint-Etienne gives culture a predominant status, festivals and events programmed by all the stakeholders contribute to the cultural prestige of the city.
St-Etienne has focused on design, new technologies and on its heritage and culture. It became a ‘Town of Art and History’ in 2000 and a ‘City of Design’ in 2010. Its old Arms Factory has been turned into a design centre called the ‘Cité du design’.