At nearly two thousand years old, Clermont-Ferrand, the former capital of the Arverni people, is a city full of history, as evidenced by the impressive statue of Vercingetorix on horseback which overlooks Place de Jaude. Situated in the centre of an ancient chain of volcanoes, it also offers lovely walks with breathtaking views.
But there's much more to Clermont-Ferrand than that! Rugby fans, art lovers, foodies... the department of Puy-de-Dôme has something to offer every visitor. The city has a traditional, but decidedly modern charm and is the beating heart of the Auvergne region, where nature and culture come together.
Did you know, Clermont-Ferrand was formed when two towns, Clairmont and Montferrand, were merged? Nowadays, the historic centre of Montferrand has been preserved and is one of the oldest in France. In the city centre, you'll find the impressive Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Cathedral, a magnificent Gothic structure built in lava stone over almost seven centuries. A few streets away from the cathedral is the iconic Place de Jaude and its statues of General Desaix by Nanteuil and Vercingetorix. The recently renovated Opéra-Théâtre also provides an opportunity to indulge in a bit of culture.
When it comes to culture, Clermont-Ferrand can certainly hold its own with its many museums. You'll be able to choose between fine art, with the Musée d’art Roger Quilliot (the MARQ), housed in the former 17th-century Ursuline convent, and the Espace Art Roman with its stunning stained glass windows; natural history with the Muséum Henri-Lecoq; and contemporary art with La Tôlerie, FRAC Auvergne and its 650 works by famous artists, and the hôtel Fontreyde and its photography exhibitions.
Lovers of sport and the great outdoors will also find plenty to do; the city is home to the famous rugby team ASM Clermont Auvergne and you can shout the team on at the Marcel-Michelin stadium. Finally, it's impossible to visit the region without scaling the Puy du Dôme, the legendary volcano from which the department gets its name. From on high you'll have a stunning view over the Chaîne des Puys and the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park, which you can explore on foot or by bicycle, or even from above in a hot air balloon.
Clermont-Ferrand is easy to get to by train, being less than two hours from Lyon and four hours from Paris, or by air from London. The city itself is easy to get around by bicycle, or by bus and tram.