Saint-Etienne is the administrative centre of the Loire department. It is the second town of the Rhone Alpes region in terms of population after Lyon. Saint-Etienne has a great setting: the Furan River runs through the town, which is located at the foothill of the Pilat massif and surrounded with seven hills. St Etienne lies at an altitude of about 550m. The town accounts for 177,480 inhabitants called the Stéphanois.
Saint-Etienne has an outstanding architectural heritage. It received the label ‘Town of Art and History’ in 2000. The town also has many parks and beautiful gardens on offer: 700 hectares of open spaces in total where people can relax, stroll, etc. Life is very active in Saint-Etienne. Indeed, many festivals are held all year round: theatre and cinema festivals, concerts, sport events, traditional festivals, etc. Sport is particularly important in St Etienne with events of national and international importance in football, athletics, cycle racing and rugby.
The town is the centre of the second metropolitan area of Rhone Alpes: Saine-Etienne Métropole. The metropolitan area is composed of 43 towns and villages and accounts for a population of more than 390,000. Saint-Etienne has taken benefit from its glorious industrial past and is nowadays one of the major French cities. The locals boast a very pleasant way of life, which definitely attracts many French and foreign holiday makers.
As far as the property market is concerned, Saint-Etienne is still an affordable town where it is worth investing. The real estate market of the town is one of the most competitive of the Rhone Alpes region. After several years of important inflation, property prices in St Etienne tend nowadays to be pretty stable. With an average price of €1,780 / square metre in 2009 for a property to buy, housing price in Saint-Etienne is much lower than the national average which is of €3,197 / sq m. Investing in an apartment may cost between €1,020/sq m and €1,600/sq m, depending on the size of the dwelling and the location. As regards new apartments, the range of price was between €2,400 and €3,030/sq m in 2008. We notice important differences in property prices in the town with numerous residences of social housing in the outskirts of the city on one side and luxury loft located at the heart of the city centre on the other side. In April 2008, people had to pay about €215,000 for a 170sq m in the pedestrian area of the city centre or €315,000 for a 5-room apartment in a luxury building.
58% of the inhabitants rent their property and 86% of the properties are apartments. These two figures clearly show that investing in an apartment or studio flat and letting it is really worthing in this town.
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Architectural heritage: the administrative centre of the Loire department has an exceptional architectural heritage: the Droguerie Tower, Bourse du Travail (Labour Exchange), town hall, ‘prefecture’, Manufacture d'Armes (weapons factory), the oldest railway bridge of continental Europe (classified by UNESCO) - just to give a few.
Gastronomy: Saint-Etienne has a wide choice of specialities on offer. Both Lyon and Saint Etienne declare themselves as the pioneers of theBugnes (kind of doughnuts). Taste Le Sarasson (kind of cottage cheese seasoned with herbs served with potatoes), La Rapée (flat ‘cake’ made of mashed potatoes), La soupe mitonnée (vegetable soup with butter and bread), La salade de barabans (dandelion salad with cooked bacon cube), Le barboton (potatoes stew with laurel and thyme), Le patia (potatoes cooked with cream and butter), Les matefaims (kind of pancake), Les grillatons (paté), etc. A good glass of wine of Côtes du Forez (red, wine and rosé) will perfectly accompany this delicious gastronomy.
Beautiful surroundings: do not miss Saint-Victor-sur-Loire when visiting Saint-Etienne. This medieval village lies on a mountain peak which surrounds the Loire River. It belongs to Saint-Etienne. The regional nature reserve Saint-Etienne - Gorges de la Loire is also worth seeing, as well as the natural regional park of Pilat (700km²). These parks are important reserves for the fauna and flora of this mountainous area. The feudal castle of Rochetaillée will delight history lovers.
Museums: culture is essential in Saint-Etienne. The town is indeed home to many interesting museums. The Modern Art Museum has the second largest art collection of France with works of art from Picasso, Fernand Léger, Andy Warhol or Jean Dubuffet for instance. The second most important collection of French weapons can be found in the Museum of Art and Industry. The Mining Museum, Museum of Old Saint-Etienne, Museum of Urban Transports of Saint-Etienne, Astronef Planetarium, etc. Just make your choice according to your main interests.
Location – transport links: situated 60km to the south-west of Lyon, Saint-Etienne has a good location within the Rhone Alpes region. It is also 50km from Vienne (east), 70km from Clermont-Ferrand (west) and 140km from Grenoble (south-east). There are many roads which allow accessing the town: the motorways A47 and A72, the national roads N88 and N82. But given the size of the town, there are unfortunately often traffic problems. A programme of urban renovation began in 2004 and should help people to move easier within the city. The two tramway lines contribute to reduce the use of cars in the city centre and have therefore positive consequences on the traffic. With five train stations, it is easy to reach Saint-Etienne by train. There are regular TGV lines (high speed train) from and to Paris as well as the major French cities. Saint-Etienne’s airport offers flights to Europe and important French towns.
Return on investment: Saint-Etienne is a student town. The town is home to an important university as well as numerous schools (engineering, theatre, optics, etc.). The sustained demand for properties there - especially for studio flats and apartments - should offer a good future return on investment.
Town houses: these properties can be detached but are most of the time semi-attached or completely attached. They may be of small-to-medium dimensions and have a very practical layout. They sometimes come with a piece of land and a garage. The most important advantage of town houses is that they are very close to all amenities.
Apartments: as said before, Saint-Etienne is a student town and 86% of the properties are apartments. Thus, you will find the apartment or studio flat you are looking for in this town. From studio flats in the city centre to luxury apartments in calm areas, passing through very large loft in buildings at the outskirts of the city, the choice is wide in terms of apartments. They are often located in residence and may come with a garage and sometimes a cellar. Buy-to-let investments are a good idea if you want to invest in a lively city which has a thriving economy and a sustained demand in studio flats and apartments.
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