Capital of Auvergne and the only metropolis in the region, in the land of dormant volcanoes Clermont-Ferrand is a city which is wide awake. In the shadows of the Puy-de-Dôme, a volcano within the Massif Central, you'll find Clermont-Ferrand, set in this wild and beautiful landscape. Clermont-Ferrand is also the Michelin man's home town, and Bibendum opens its doors to visitors, at the Espace Michelin. Clermont-Ferrand is a city of art and culture: its International Short Film Festival is known throughout the world. Travel to Clermont-Ferrand and feel the creative energy flowing like lava from this volcanic city.
On the hill at the historic centre of the city, the Notre-Dame de l'Assomption Cathedral in Clermont-Ferrand rises with Gothic grace above the city. Carved from volacanic rock from the Volvic quarries, the façade was designed in part by the architect Viollet-le-Duc. Dark and mysterious, the twin spires of the cathedral reach for the sky like a volcanic eruption.
Less ominous, the pretty patterned Notre-Dame-du-Port Basilica is one of the best examples of Roman church architecture in Auvergne, and is a Unesco monument.
Dive deep into the historic centre of Montferrand and look out for more traces of Roman architecture. Montferrand, you ask? Clermont and Montferrand were once two distinct towns, and historically, the Counts of Auvergne, who came from Montferrand, and the lord bishops of Clermont did not always see eye to eye. Richelieu finally united the two towns in 1630.
Appreciate this vibrant city: check out the Place de Jade, which has been a buzzing focal point since Antiquity. The trams' dark red colour is referred to as Fleur de Lave or "lava flower", and indeed there is a delicate charm to this volcanic city...
Do a little window shopping at the many chic shops in Clermont-Ferrand: try the Place de Jade, before choosing one of the excellent restaurants in Clermont-Ferrand. Be sure to taste a couple of the excellent cheeses from Auvergne: try cantal, Saint-Nectaire, salers, fourme d'Ambert, or bleu d'Auvergne - these are some of the very best French cheeses.
The main symbol of Auvergne and of Clermont-Ferrand has to be the Puy-de-Dôme volcano, which is to be found at the end of the chaîne des Puys, a row of 80 volcanos. If you don't fancy hiking to the top, or cycling like former Tour de France competitors, fear not, thereis a road, and it's only a short drive to the top. The volcano theme park, Vulcania (20 minutes from Clermont-Ferrand) is a fascinating ineractive experience: the whole family will learn all kinds of things about volcanoes in a fun environment.
The cultural highlight of the year in Clermont-Ferrand is the International Short Film Festival in Clermont-Ferrand, alongside the Cervolix Europavox, a contemporary music festival which offers an annual overview of the best of the music scene all around Europe.
Clermont-Ferrand offers an encounter with nature at its most wild and mysterious, in this beautiful setting which is as old as the hills...
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