Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez travel guide

Photo of Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez

Visit Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez (Auvergne Rhône-Alpes, France)

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Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez is a small village in the Parc Naturel Regional de Pilat in the Loire department of the Rhone Alps, 37 kilometres from Saint-Etienne and 48 kilometres from Lyon. It is classed as one of France's most beautiful villages.

Exploring Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez

Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez was originally founded around a Carthusian monastery built in the 13th century, and most of the houses of the village were once a part of the monastery.

Monks inhabited the monastery up until 1792 when they were evicted during the French Revolution and the buildings sold to neighbouring families. Following this conversion of the monastery into a village, little then changed in the following 200 years.

Entrance to ancient passage

Of course, it is possible to visit the village all year round but to see inside the buildings you need to take the guided tour organised by Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez tourist office which is open from 1st April to 30th September and then weekends only in winter.

Once through the large stone doorway flanked by two round towers you enter the first of two squares inside the village. All around the square you can see the attractive buildings of the monastery: all are built in the same brown stone and together they form a nearly continuous square of buildings around the edges.

To the left there is the entrance to the passageway that links the Cour des Frères to the Cour des Pères and which was at one time reserved for the monks. This first square was a place of workshops by the monks and others to produce all those things necessary to life in a monastery. The Cour des Pères is surrounded by the monks cells.


If you are on a guided tour you can visit the cloister and see the church which, after a fire in the 18th century, was installed in the Chapter house. Here you can see some richly decorated stalls and paintings from the 15th and 17th century.

The cloister leads to the 'eglise primitive' which contains some 14th century murals. There is also a wonderful vaulted monastery kitchen with a Renaissance fireplace and a bakery to see and a restored cell to give you an idea of what life was like for the monks of Saint-Croix-en-Jarez. In fact life was better than you might have imagined as each 'cell' is now a family house - small but not exactly how you imagine a monk's cell!

At the far end of Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez is another open square and here the monastery buildings on one side now form the local primary school.

Stone houses and a tower in centre of Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez

Attractions nearby

Around Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez you can explore the Parc Naturel Regional de Pilat and the Pilat mountains. Elsewhere in the parc, the interesting villages of Pelussin et Malleval are just a short and scenic drive to the north-east.

You can find more travel ideas in the Loire guide and the Rhone-Alpes guide.

See also: 

Photos of Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez

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Originally an industrial town, regeneration of the Place Jean Jaures, the cathedral and the town centre in Saint-Etienne now make it a pleasant town to visit

Saint-Etienne guide


The Chateau de Virieu and the old market hall are among the highlights when you visit Pelussin

Pelussin guide


We found Malleval to be one of the loveliest villages in the Regional Natural Park of Pilat

Malleval guide


The ramparts, medieval gateways and village centre are the highlights of your visit to Desaignes in the Monts d'Ardeche Regional Natural Park

Desaignes guide


In Tournon-sur-Rhone there are several interesting monuments to explore and also the Eden Parc woodland garden and views

Tournon-sur-Rhone guide


A town for gourmands, Tain-l'Hermitage is visited for its excellent local chocolates and the Cotes-du-Rhone wines

Tain-l'Hermitage guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Loire

Address: Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez, Rive-de-Gier, Saint-Étienne, Rhone-Alpes, 42800, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 45.2849, longitude 4.3852

Plan your visit to Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez, Loire

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Perdrix Crest: site of natural beauty (18 km)
  • Saint-Etienne: town of art and history (19 km)
  • Pilat: regional natural parc (20 km)
  • Oeillon Crest: site of natural beauty (21 km)
  • Parc zoologique de Saint-Martin-la-Plaine: zoo or wildlife park (33 km)
  • Saint-Galmier: recommended detour (34 km)
  • Jardin de l’écomusée: remarkable garden (37 km)
  • Prieuré de Saint Julien (Saint-Julien-Chapteuil): religious monument (38 km)
  • Saint-Symphorien-sur-Coise: recommended detour (39 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Georges (Saint-Paulien): religious monument (47 km)
  • Vienne: town of art and history (47 km)
  • Le Puy-en-Velay cathédrale Notre-Dame (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (47 km)

The French version of this page is at Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez (Francais)