A Traveller's Guide to Clermont-Ferrand, France
The capital city of the central French region of Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand is best known for its proximity to the Chaîne des Puys chain of dormant volcanoes and as the hometown of the world-famous Michelin Tyre Company. The small city has a small population of just 140 000 people.
Getting To and Around Clermont-Ferrand
Clermont-Ferrand is well-positioned on the country’s motorway network, situated at the junction of the A71 and A72 highways. The city is connected to Bourges and Orléans via the A71, with Saint-Étienne along the A72, by the A75 to Montpellier and along the A89 to Bordeaux.
From Paris, Clermont-Ferrand is a three hour train ride, with services leaving bi-hourly. Connections to the city are also available from surrounding centres including Lyon, Saint-Étienne and Limoges. Clermont-Ferrand’s bus terminal is only serviced by Eurolines routes to and from international destinations. The Clermont-Ferrand Auvergne Airport located 15 minutes east of the city offers Air France flights on domestic routes only. A shuttle is available from the airport to the city centre.
There is an excellent public transport system to help you get around Clermont-Ferrand. Tickets for the tram and bus services are inter-changeable, with an unlimited one hour ticket costing €1.40. The tram service runs north to south through town, while the bus lines operate within the city and surrounding suburbs, with only limited buses available on weekends. However, most attractions are within easy walking distance which also allows you a closer look at the surrounding neighbourhoods and daily life of the locals.
Things To See and Do in Clermont-Ferrand
There are several significant historical monuments to visit when in Clermont-Ferrand.
Place de Jaude, the public square, contains a large statue of Vercingetorix, a French soldier who led Caesar’s army to victory at Gergovie. The square itself is also bordered by many restaurants cafes, boutiques as well as a shopping mall. It is also where the town’s people hold their local festivals and gather to watch major sporting events.
Construction of the Notre Dame Cathedral of the Assumption began in 1248 but was not completed until 1902. The building is constructed from black volcanic rock.
The Roger-Quilliot art museum houses works and artefacts native to the Auvergne region from throughout French history.
Also located in town are the Michelin Tire Corporation’s headquarters, factory and testing race track.
From the park, Parc Montjuze, at the northern end of town you can enjoy the view of Puy-de-Dôme and stunning countryside surrounding Clermont -Ferrand. Bus trips are available during warmer months for visits to the summit of the dormant volcano itself. At the peak there is a cafe, children’s activities as well as opportunities for hiking and parasailing.