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St-Étienne, 51km southwest of Lyon, was until recently a bland town. Almost entirely industrial, it is a major armaments manufacturer, enclosed for kilometres around by mineworkings, warehouses and factory chimneys. Like many other industrial centres, it fell on hard times, and the demolition gangs have moved in to raze its archaic industrial past. Only in the last decades has equilibrium been restored thanks to a concerted programme to revitalize the town. Today the centre is quite cheerful, buoyed by several small museums.

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