Saint-Etienne, a town of France, capital of the department of Loire, on the Furens, a branch of the Loire, 32 m. S. W. of Lyons; pop. in 1872, 110,814. It has several spacious streets lined with substantial houses built of freestone, originally white, but soiled from coal smoke. Among the churches, St. Étienne and Notre Dame are most noteworthy, and other public buildings are the town hall, theatre, museum of industry, gallery and school of fine arts, school of mines, and communal college. It was a place of some importance in the 15th century, and in recent times has become one of the principal manufacturing centres in Europe. It owes its recent rapid rise to the water power furnished by the Furens, and its situation in the midst of the most productive coal fields of France. The ribbon manufacture, the largest in the world, employs 40,000 weavers in the town and adjacent districts, and produces goods to the value of 80,000,000 francs per annum. The firearms factories employ 6,000 men, and in 1868 turned out 90,000 pieces, and the national arms factory, employing 4,500 men, made in 1868 200,000 Chasse-pot rifles. Sixty cutlery establishments employ 7,000 workmen and produce goods to the value of about 3,500,000 francs annually. The manufacture of Bessemer and Martin steel is extensive.
Hemp cables for mines and inclined railway planes are made. Of coal about 500,000 tons a year are exported.