Perched on a hillock and protected by ancient ramparts, Clermont-Ferrand is a city with an evocative atmosphere that mixes a modern identity with a captivating historic centre.
The most remarkable monument is the Romanesque basilica of Notre-Dame-du-Port, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the Route of Santiago de Compostela. The ornate and sculpted Renaissance private palaces rival in beauty the finely chiselled Amboise fountain, while Art Nouveau fretwork decorates the façades and 20th-century shop windows.
Clermont-Ferrand is a truly amazing city, with a rich cultural, religious, architectural, gastronomic and sporting heritage: you’ll be spoilt for choice with museums, parks and quality restaurants, and a lively nightlife.
The historical centre, located on the Clermont hill, winds around the lava stone Gothic cathedral. Open-air bars and restaurants alternate with antique shops, junk shops, contemporary art galleries, bookshops and historical monuments.
In particular, the medieval district of Montferrand is one of the oldest in France, founded by the Counts of Auvergne near the episcopal city of Clermont in the 12th century.
The majestic Gothic cathedral soars skywards and crowns the hill in the historic centre of Clermont. Construction began in 1248, under the supervision of architect Jean Deschamps and the episcopate of Hughes de la Tour.
The cathedral stands on the site of ancient churches, as can be seen from the crypt. Its completion took no less than seven centuries, including long interruptions in work. The three bays, portal and western spires were built by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century.
The cathedral is notable for its use of Volvic volcanic stone, of which this work represented the first large-scale use. This anthracite-coloured masterpiece highlights a unique set of stained glass windows and wall paintings.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and located along the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela, the basilica is famous for its pyramidal apse adorned with rose windows, its sculpted portal and more than 250 Romanesque capitals with remarkable decorations and narrative scenes from the infancy of Christ, a statue of the Virgin suckling and the Annunciation by Philippe de Champaigne.
Built in the 12th century, this remarkable Romanesque basil ica has a basilica plan with a nave flanked by aisles and extending into a presbytery with ambulatories and radiating chapels. The pyramid-shaped apse is decorated with mouldings and rosettes.
Notre-Dame-du-Port is located in the old Portus district, a name that recalls its commercial activity in Clermont-Ferrand. Its construction dates back to the first third of the 12th century.
For a relaxing break while visiting the city, we recommend sitting on the terrace of Place de Jaude, a charming corner of the old town: fountains, flowering magnolias, historical monuments and lively shops.
This square is bordered by the Saint-Pierre-des-Minimes church, built in the 17th century, the 19th century theatre and the Galeries Lafayette Clermont department store nicknamed the Jaude galleries.
There are two beautiful statues in the square, that of General Desaix of Nanteuil and that of Vercingétorige of Bartholdi.
Thanks to the patronage of Bishop Jacques d’Amboise, this rare fountain was erected in 1515, in Volvic stone.
Its structure, in particular its rampant arches, is still Gothic. But the candelabra and abundant decoration testify to the Renaissance style. Italian-style grotesque masks and garlands adorn the stacked basins, from which gushes of water flow. A ‘wild man’ dressed in animal skins surmounts it.
Moved several times over the centuries, it is now installed in Place de la Poterne, a stone’s throw from the town hall.
Bright and airy spaces form the basis of the museum’s design. Visitors immerse themselves in an atrium flooded with natural light designed by Peter Rice, the Irish engineer who participated in the construction of the Sydney Opera House and the Centre Georges-Pompidou.
The Roger-Quilliot Museum of Art preserves and promotes 22,000 works from the various fields of fine arts, from the Middle Ages to the 20th century: painting, sculpture, furniture, artworks, graphic arts, photographs and historical documents exhibited in a 3,000 m² exhibition space.
In particular, the Combe Collection brings together 415 works by artists from the 1920s to the 1960s, including Marie Laurencin (1883-1956), Bernard Buffet (1928-1999) and Marcel Gromaire (1892-1971). The painting techniques are varied: oil on canvas, watercolour, charcoal, felt-tip pen, pencil, chalk, collage, sculpture and engraving. Going against the tide of abstractionism, the vast majority of the artists in this collection defend a figurative approach to art, revealing the concerns of their time.
The Henri-Lecoq Museum owes its name to the famous naturalist who bequeathed his private collection to the city.
The museum’s collections have been enriched and preserved for more than a century and now include almost 650,000 objects and specimens. The exhibition space is divided into several thematic areas: the botany department boasts Henri Lecoq’s extremely rich herbarium, to which are added the plates of well-known botanists that complete the collection of seeds, fruits and plaster specimens, the geology department collects almost 50.000 rock, mineral and fossil specimens, the zoology department presents extensive collections of species collected since the end of the 19th century such as stuffed vertebrates, amphibians and reptiles preserved in liquid, insects, mollusc collections and 120,000 marine, terrestrial and freshwater shells.
The museum is located in a beautiful five-hectare park with an ornamental pond, an English garden, a playground and lovely sloping lawns, ideal for relaxing in nature.
Jean-Baptiste Bargoin (1813-1885), a well-known pharmacist from Clermont, donated his immense private collection to the town. This gave rise to the Bargoin museum, which preserves the archaeological riches found thanks to excavations carried out in the Clermont area. These objects cover the most ancient periods: Bronze Age, Iron Age and Gallo-Roman period.
Among the most important pieces is a foot that belonged to a statue of exceptional dimensions: in fact, the size of the foot, 58 cm long and 36 cm wide, and the fine details of the stocking suggest that it belonged to an imperial statue almost 4 metres tall.
The skeleton of the Maiden of Cheix, discovered in 1868, is also remarkable: dated to the Early Neolithic period, some 4700 years before our era, the skeleton is presented in the same position as it was discovered, lying on its right side in a foetal position. Near the forearms was a small ochre-coloured pencil and a boar’s tusk.
The Salins flea market is an institution in Clermont-Ferrand. Every Sunday morning, almost 150 exhibitors of antiques, books, porcelain plates, old tools and vintage toys gather, attracting between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors.
An unmissable appointment to browse through antiques and mingle with the locals in a cheerful and relaxed atmosphere.
The history of the city of Clermont-Ferrand is closely linked to that of the Michelin tyre company.
The old factory building, characteristic of early 20th century industrial architecture, has been completely renovated and now houses a 2,000 square metre interactive scenic route: through an original and interactive set-up, you will discover the history, the present and the future of Michelin.
In fact, the Michelin Adventure tour has been conceived as an entertaining journey, both chronological and thematic, that takes the public from one universe to another, each of which materialises in its various forms and atmospheres: from the development of the bicycle and the automobile to aeronautics, from innovation on the rails to the ingenious advertising of Bibendum, better known in Italian as the Michelin Man, who soon became the company’s mascot, and finally the fantastic exploration game The Cloud Catcher. In a team of up to 6 players, on a touch pad, you will have to build a prototype of this machine with some parts missing. As you explore the Michelin adventure, you will save this extraordinary machine from oblivion.
Rugby fans should not miss the opportunity to visit one of its legendary clubs: ASM. On the ground floor of one of the stands of the famous Marcel-Michelin stadium, you will find the ASM Experience space of more than 600 square metres, exclusively dedicated to rugby and its team.
The ASM Experience Museum will take you behind the scenes of ASM CA: thanks to digital and new technologies, you will be able to meet the players, enter the intimacy of the dressing room, become a fan and test yourself with touch games and pitch simulations, answer questions throughout the course that will determine your profile as a player, comment on a match like a real journalist and have your photo taken with the players in a form of augmented reality.
At the end of the course, you will also have the opportunity to visit the Marcel-Michelin Stadium, to discover behind the scenes, accompanied by professional guides: you will enter the stands, the players’ dressing rooms, the entrance tunnel, discovering all the facets of the famous stadium and its most unusual corners. You will learn about its history, its evolutions, its anecdotes.
At an altitude of 486 m, in a protected urban area, this 26-hectare park offers a privileged view of the city and its region.
It is a true place of relaxation, with lawns, gardens and children’s games. What makes it even more enchanting is the presence of two monumental contemporary sculptures that interact with the hillside landscape: Takashi Naraha ‘s erratic ball and Carlos Cruz Diez‘s chromatic induction fountain.
A short distance from the city, you will find yourself in an incredible natural landscape: the 32-kilometre-long Chaîne des Puys – Limagne fault, which is home to no less than 80 inactive volcanoes, forests as far as the eye can see, beautiful trails and historical attractions.
The Puy de Dôme is the highest peak of the Chaîne des Puys – Limagne fault, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its 1465-metre-high peak offers a breathtaking panorama of Europe’s most beautiful volcanic ensemble: more than 80 volcanoes. On a clear day, the view extends as far as Mont Blanc.
The summit of the Puy de Dôme is accessible by the train Panoramique des Dômes or on foot via the hiking trails: the panoramic rack-and-pinion train will take you to the summit in 15 minutes, with a frequency of 20 minutes in high season, 40 minutes in high season and 1 hour the rest of the year.
The mountain route reveals a magnificent panorama over the Chaîne des Puys, the Limagne plain, the metropolis of Clermont and the Massif du Sancy. Once at the top, you can continue walking on several hiking trails, suitable for all levels.
The Lemptegy volcano is a 30,000-year-old Strombolian cone. The extraction of its volcanic waste began at the end of World War II. Thanks to the cooperation of the scientific world, the inner structure of the volcano was patiently stripped of its rocks to be accessible to the public.
Today, a gigantic 10-hectare cavity opens like a funnel into the heart of the volcano with its chimneys. All around, the cliffs formed by the different layers reveal the colours of the layers. The Lemptegy volcano is the only volcano whose anatomy is so visible and accessible.
The tourist site offers guided tours exclusively on foot or by train and reservations are strongly recommended.
It is a unique park in Europe: dedicated to the theme of volcanoes and the natural phenomena of planet Earth, Vulcania combines excitement and discovery to offer an exceptional experience especially for families with children.
You will find many activities that link the discovery of the earth with the fun of theme parks. During your visit to Vulcania, you will experience an exceptional adventure to learn while having fun about volcanoes, Earth’s natural phenomena and Space.
While adventure lovers will find Matt the Explorer in front of the Emotions animations (the most dynamic in the park), Professor Yapadrisk will meet all those who wish to become unbeatable on Earth Sciences at the entrance to the Discovery activities (the richest in content). Finally, the little ones will be welcomed by Pitoufeu for children’s games.
Finally, Vulcania is a living park where shows are presented throughout the year and special events at Easter and during the autumn holidays with the Lost Legends. In summer, the Dragon Time fireworks display is not to be missed.
At the foot of the Puy de Dôme and in the heart of the Clermont metropolitan area, Royatonic is a place of healing and relaxation. Under the large wooden dome, you can draw all year round on the energy and benefits of water at over 30°, provided by the volcanic soils of the Auvergne and the source of the Red Caves.
The thermal centre consists of two large indoor/outdoor pools, jacuzzis, hot and cold baths, as well as a relaxation area around the two hammams, saunas and a relaxation room. You can also relax in the various water activities: bubble beds, waterfalls, jacuzzis, counter-current swimming, massage jets with different pressure levels, geysers and experience showers.
The Archaeological Museum of the Battle of Gergovie is located on the emblematic plateau of the same name, the scene of a historic victory of Vercingetorix against Caesar.
You can take a journey through history, the Gallic world and the archaeological secrets of this area. An important moment in the Gallic wars, the Battle of Gergovie, took place here, where tens of thousands of men, led by Julius Caesar and Vercingetorix, clashed.
Through an exhibition of period weapons, reconstructions, models, maps, 250 objects found in the area and an immersive audiovisual show, you will be able to relive this crucial page in history and discover everything about the Arverni, one of the Gallic peoples most mentioned by ancient authors.
A veritable belvedere over Auvergne, the museum also reveals the specific features of the landscape and geology of the Plateau resulting from the region’s volcanic activity. A beautiful 3.5-km walk also starts here, from which you can admire the entire plateau.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
The beautiful city of Clermont-Ferrand is the historical capital of the Auvergne and was born from the union of the rival cities of Clermont and Montferrand in 1630.
An important French university and research centre, the city is home to more than 35,000 students and 6,000 researchers. Particularly lively due to its vibrant student life, Clermont-Ferrand has a magnificent historical, cultural and architectural heritage.
Moreover, the city is relatively inexpensive and you should not have too much difficulty finding hotels and B&Bs for every budget and requirement.
Built around the hill occupied by the Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption cathedral, the historical centre is the perfect place to sleep in Clermont-Ferrand. This is where the most important attractions are concentrated and consists of old buildings and picturesque, often pedestrianised streets.
For a short stay in the city, we recommend finding a hotel in this area, which is also served by many bars and restaurants.
The Salins district is the most elegant and lively in the city: every Sunday there is a famous flea market in Place Gambetta, a must for the city of Clermont. Large modern hotels and hotel chains are predominantly located here.
The city centre can easily be reached on foot, but if you prefer, it is also served by the tram line.
If you plan to reach the city by train, the station area is perfect for accommodation in Clermont-Ferrand. The Gare district is close to the centre, easily accessible on foot: charming and quiet, it is ideal for not having to make numerous journeys, while enjoying a strategic location.
For an authentic and picturesque experience, the medieval district of Montferrand is an ideal place to stay in Clermont-Ferrand.
Endowed with a splendid old-village spirit, although well restored and served by the tramway line, the district is not lacking in charm with its historical centre, its museums and its few typical restaurants and bars.
Located in the centre of France, near the Puys mountain range, Clermont-Ferrand is the capital of Auvergne, a region rich in volcanoes, lakes, forests and mountains.
The nearest airport to Clermont-Ferrand is Lyon Airport. From here, you can rent a car directly at arrivals and drive to the heart of the Auvergne, arriving in Clermont-Ferrand in about 2 hours, following the A89 motorway.
Alternatively, you can land and rent a car at one of the Paris airports: Paris Orly Airport or Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. From here, you should allow 3 hours and 50 minutes to 4 hours of travel time.
What's the weather at Clermont-Ferrand? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Clermont-Ferrand for the next few days.
Clermont-Ferrand is located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and is composed of the merger of two separate cities.