Imaginative at the Cité du design or on the Le Corbusier site, lover of the arts in the street or at the museum, greedy in a chocolate factory or in the halls, lover of the outdoors in the Pilat massif … The proof by five that Saint-Etienne ( Loire) is not what we think.
After years of crisis, the city looks better. His future is dreamed of in the vast 19th century buildingse of the National Arms Manufactory, which has become a “creative district” with an art and design school, fab labs, La Fabuleuse Cantine (a good and inexpensive restaurant that fights against waste) and, above all, the Cité du design, open to the public with its exhibitions and its Cabane, a new place for children. From April 6 to July 31, the International Biennale will spill over into a city infused with design, from the silhouette of the tram to street furniture and hotel rooms (the recent Novotel designed by Thierry d’Istria but also the Hotel Continental). Here and there, the architectural signatures of Norman Foster (the Zénith), Rudy Ricciotti (the House of Employment), Manuelle Gautrand (the City of Business) or the red buildings erected by Emmanuel Combarel and Dominique Marrec, opposite the station de Châteaucreux, bring their touch of contemporary elegance.
The avant-garde has never frightened this city which revered technical progress, exhibited at the Museum of Art and Industry. Evidenced by the Art Nouveau facades around the avenue de la Liberation or, in Firminy (13 kilometers away), the modernist architecture of Le Corbusier with its “housing unit”, its cultural center, its swimming pool. and its stadium still alive. Failing to be consecrated, his church sings about the possible beauty of concrete.
There is not only football in the city. Saint-Etienne, which has long combined the words “culture” and “popular”, offers plenty to occupy its weekend: if not at the Comédie de Saint-Etienne, the national drama center installed for four years in a magnificently restored old factory, or at Le Fil for a concert of the new stage in Saint-Etienne, it is on the hill of the Jardin des Plantes that it is good to go. There is the Opera, the only one in France with that of Paris to have integrated workshops for its costumes and sets (open to the public on certain Saturdays).
Another jewel in its black setting, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art has the largest collection after the Center Pompidou, with nearly 20,000 works that feed exhibitions that are still relevant (“The Self-Taught Enigma” until 3 April). Also to be discovered, the Ceysson & Bénétière gallery which, after Paris, New York and Lyon, opened a new space in Saint-Etienne in September 2021, capable of accommodating monumental works (such as crumpled sheets and compressed cars by Florian Pugnaire and David Raffini , from January 21).
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One city, desires, five possibilities: Saint-Etienne