What You Need To Know

Saint-Étienne is a city in eastern central France, in the Massif Central, southwest of Lyon in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, on the trunk road that connects Toulouse with Lyon. Saint-Étienne is the capital of the Loire department.
St-Étienne is drawing on its Industrial Revolution origins and its history of arms, bicycle, textile and ribbon production, to reinvent itself as ‘design city’. And the change is noticeable. After almost 30 years of decline, the city is now looking optimistically towards the future. Its centre and suburbs are smartening up at a rapid pace. Hip it’s certainly not, but for visitors, there are plenty of good surprises, including two great museums and a decent eating scene.

Area:79.97 km²
Population:171,260 (2010)

Currency

  • The Euro is the official currency of France, and of most European Union member states, excluding the UK and the Czech Republic, among others. The Euro, symbolized by a “€,” has been in public circulation since January, 2002. The franc, the former official currency of France, is no longer accepted, however, you may see that some price tags in France give the price both in Euro and in francs, to help those who still think in terms of francs.

    There are 8 different Euro coin denominations and 7 different Euro bill denominations in circulation. Coins are denominated in 2 and 1 Euro, then 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Each member state decorated their own coins, but all coins are interchangeable within the countries. Bills are denominated in 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 and they vary in color and size.

  • By far the easiest way to pay for things in France is simply to use an international credit card or debit card. Visa and Mastercard can be used all over France, and American Express cards and other international cards in a number of places. But obviously, there are situations in which paying with plastic is not an option. Visitors to France therefore need to have some Euros to hand, to pay for small or larger items and in cases where the trader does not accept cards.
  • So again, the simplest solution is to use your international credit card or debit card. You can withdraw money from cash-dispensers (ATMs) in France in exactly the same way as you would at home – except that you will be asked to select a sum in Euros. Your card company or bank will automatically debit your account in your usual currency, having converted the sum at the day’s exchange rate.

    However, there are some golden rules that you need to follow if you do not want to end up paying far more than necessary for this service, or running out of cash because you have reached your limit for withdrawals.

Weather

Saint-Étienne has an anomalic type of the oceanic climate that is heavily influenced by its relative distance to the sea. Summer days are very warm for a marine climate type, but falls into the range due to the cool nights that keeps the mean average temperatures below the subtropical threshold of 22 °C (72 °F). Winters are cool but rarely very cold, although minor frosts are common. Precipitation levels are very low for this type of climate regime during winters, although the wet and humid summers compensate.

Language

As with the rest of France, French is the only official language of the region. Until the mid-20th century, Arpitan was widely spoken in the whole region, while many of the inhabitants of the south spoke varieties of Occitan; both are in steep decline in this region. There are immigrant populations from Armenia, Italy, North Africa, Poland and Portugal amongst other places.

Health and security

  • The French healthcare system relies on both public and private facilities, which cater to both residents and foreigners. Care is funded by a public health insurance scheme, which is financed by mandatory contributions to the state health system.

    This funding covers the majority of costs; however, in most situations the patient is liable for a fraction of the cost (usually around 30%). This remaining charge can be funded directly by the patient or through a supplementary private health insurance.

    Given the cost of treatment, it is advisable to take out supplementary cover. There are a number of insurers to choose from, some catering specifically to expats and English speakers living in Rennes while others are targeted to certain professions.

    Unlike in other countries, the French health system caters to all. Those without private health insurance are entitled to use the same facilities as everybody else, so you can take your pick of treatment facilities should you need them.

  • France is generally very safe, and has a have relatively low rate of violent crime, but as with visiting unfamiliar towns and cities, some neighborhoods in this town do merit a bit of extra caution. Overall crime in France has fallen in recent years, but visitors should be careful when on the move. And unfortunately petty crime has in fact, been on the rise, and typically tourists are at the greatest risk. The most common types of crimes are pickpockets at train stations, on buses and even at the airports.

DON’T

  • Avoid to walk alone especially when you don’t know the surroundings.
  • DON’T Go to your bank and exchange all your money before your France or European trip. You will probably pay a higher rate than necessary, and you don’t want to be running around with all that cash in your wallet.

DO

  • There are more than a dozen museums – most based around the ever present design theme of the town. The Cite du Design, Museum of Art and Industry, Le Corbusier Site, Firminy are three of the best. A little bit more off the wall is the Museum of Firemen and the Musée des Verts, dedicated to the local football team. You’ll discover that the people here are football mad and “The Greens”, their team have superstar status.
  • Visit Saint-Étienne Planetarium, Distinguished by its semicircular dome, the planetarium uses cutting-edge technology to provide the most amazing and informative shows about the Universe. The central device is an astronomic simulator which can calculate and project the movements of the planets and some 3000 stars.
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