Clermont Ferrand
© Alberto Paredes / age fotostock
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Clermont Ferrand

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile

Our Editorial team's advice

Nestled at the heart of the volcanic mountains of Auvergne, between the Chaîne des Dômes, the Dore Mountains and the Puy de Sancy, Clermont-Ferrand extends a warms welcome to visitors to the area.
The district of Clermont and Montferrand is renowned for its medieval district, its basilicas and its famous Bibendum
and is popular for its authentic charm and the regional specialities which are guaranteed to stop you from partaking in any strenuous activities for the rest of the day!

To see

The Basilica of Notre-Dame du Port, an historical monument of Romanesque art listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Maison de l'Eléphant, which hosts exhibitions and concerts, amongst other things. This monument is one of the most famous in the city. The only downside is that the elephant fresco, from which the building takes its name, seems to have disappeared. Just like the Basilica of Notre-Dame du Port, the Maison de l'Eléphant is a Romanesque building.

To do

If you have the opportunity, go to Europavox, a large music festival at the end of May, which is highly renowned in the region.
Culture lovers should also visit the Hôtel de Fontfreyde, which hosts photo exhibitions. This is both a cultural and artistic monument in Clermont-Ferrand.
Those who love nature should opt for the botanical garden, where you can take a walk among some 2,600 species of plant and visit the seed shop, the orchard and the ecological garden.
Finally, families can take a walk through the historic district of Montferrand where you can admire the Notre-Dame Church and its remarkable bell tower.

pros

  • +  The very pleasant pedestrian streets.
  • +  Puy de Dôme.
  • +  The Cathedral.

cons

  • -  Quite far from the sea
  • -  Few shops

To think about

Visit the Auvergne Volcanoes National Park, which contains the Chaîne des Puys chain of mountains, also known as the 'Monts Dôme'. Here you can admire one of the oldest groups of volcanoes in Europe consisting of no less than eighty volcanoes, including the 1,465-metre high Puy de Dôme. The most daring can follow the hiking trails through the volcanoes and experience unforgettable walks at the heart of this unusual landscapes.
Also visit the plateau of Gergovie, a cultural site where the Battle of Gergovia once took place. This place offers a stunning view of the Chaîne des Puys mountains. Guided tours are available during the summer. Finally, around 9 miles from Clermont-Ferrand, the small village of Riom, a 'renaissance city' listed as a Ville et Pays d'Art et d'Histoire (French Towns and Lands of Art and History), is worth a visit. Here you can wander through the narrow streets of the old centre while admiring the remarkable architecture of the buildings.

To try

If you are a fan of cheese, you will love the Auvergne!
A very popular regional food is patranque, a rustic dish made from cantal cheese and rye bread soaked in milk. It is served in the form of a pancake and can also be made with tomme cheese. It is a typical culinary speciality of Clermont-Ferrand.
As for desserts, you can try 'pompe aux pommes', puff pastry turnovers filled with pieces of baked apples, and apple or pear clafoutis.

To bring back

Take a stroll around the market to sample and buy the local cheeses, such as Saint Nectaire, Bleu d'Auvergne and Fourme d'Amber.