Three Days in Saint-Étienne: Your France Rugby World Cup Itinerary

Three Days in Saint-Étienne: Your France Rugby World Cup Itinerary

Visiting Saint-Étienne for the France Rugby World Cup 2023? This host city is not only home to Stade Geoffroy Guichard, where four of the pool matches will be held; it’s also a UNESCO City of Design and boasts some of France’s most unique museums. Plan a few days before or after match day to experience Saint-Étienne and follow our insider tips to take in all the highlights.

Your France Rugby World Cup Itinerary: Saint-Étienne

Day 1: Museums and Monuments

Saint-Étienne’s compact centre is easily explored on foot, and the centre-ville is brimming with architectural gems and street art. Admire the modern Saint-Étienne Cathedral, seek out the Art Nouveau-inspired La Martre de France along Avenue de la Libération, and visit Saint-Étienne’s very own Statue of Liberty, designed by the same artist as the New York City original.

After marvelling at the futuristic façade of the Cité du Design, head inside to browse the art exhibitions, stroll around the urban greenhouse, and take in the views from the observation tower.

Take your pick of Saint-Étienne’s unique museums—the Mine Museum offers the rare opportunity to visit a reconstructed 20th-century coal mine, while the Museum of Art and Industry has France’s largest collection of vintage bicycles and a vast weapons collection.

Day 2: Saint-Étienne’s Sporting Highlights

Kick-off match day with a typically French breakfast. No, not croissants—Saint-Étienne’s specialities are bugnes (sugary fried doughnuts) and pralulines (pink-praline brioche) from the Pralus bakery (9 rue Michelet), a local institution. Speaking of sweet treats, you should also swing by the nearby Weiss chocolatier (8 Rue Général Foy) to pick up some of their famous homemade chocolates.

Saint-Étienne’s Stade Geoffroy Guichard is where the Rugby World Cup matches are held, but it’s also the iconic home stadium of legendary French football team AS Saint-Étienne. Get there an hour or two before kick-off to visit the ‘Musée des Verts’ and dive into the history of ‘Les Verts’ (the greens).

Head back into town post-match to celebrate in style at the city’s lively bars and restaurants. Place Jean Jaures, with its historic 19th-century bandstand, and Place Chavanelle are the most atmospheric spots to drink and dine.

Day 3: Natural Wonders of the Rhône-Alpes

The 72,000-hectare Pilat Regional Nature Park lies less than an hour’s drive from Saint-Étienne, so use your final day to escape the city and get back to nature. Stop along the way at the country towns of Rochetaillée and Pélussin, where you can purchase some Chèvre du Pilat, a creamy goat’s cheese produced in the region.

One of the most popular hiking trails leads to the summit of Crêt de la Perdrix, the park’s highest peak at 1,431 meters. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the top, gazing out over the Rhône Valley and the distant Alps.

On the way back, take a detour to see the evocatively nicknamed Gouffre d’Enfer Dam—the ‘Chasm of Hell’. Climb the stone steps up to the top of the dam and follow the trail for an awe-inspiring view over the bottleneck dam with its thundering waterfall and dramatic cliffs.

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