A large square, the Place de la Libération, is the nerve centre of the town. It is occupied by a giant parking lot, frozen right in front of the town hall, which hosts one of the most important markets in the southern part of the Loire. One wonders what the town planners were thinking (or what they expect to do) when they designed this vast ocean of concrete! A few steps away is the Jardin des Plantes, a small park next to the Jean Dasté theatre. Rue Jean-Jaurès is the main shopping street in Rive-de-Gier. There is nothing exceptional to see in this town of 14 568 inhabitants, separated in two by the river Gier (now largely covered) and stuck to the neighboring towns of Lorette and Chateauneuf, if not its industrial activity that has left more than visible traces. At that time, life was organized around coal. Nowadays, the wastelands of the glassworks and the old abandoned forge workshops mingle with the factories still in activity. In spite of this strong industrial mark, the city is known, on the cultural level, for its jazz and comic strip festivals. Away from the town centre, the MJC houses the Couzon theatre. A 153-seat hall can accommodate artists and troupes of various and varied styles. A border area between the Rhône and the Loire, Rive-de-Gier remains, like the towns along the A47, the gateway to the Pilat. Behind its decor of factories, it hides small roads that lead to villages and hamlets, charming and full of history, such as Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez or Pélussin.

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