Clermont Ferrand, usually known just as Clermont, is a cosmopolitan city in the heart of rural France, giving visitors the best of both worlds. It is built on, and surrounded by dormant volcanoes. Perfect for nature lovers who like to relax in a vibrant but unhurried atmosphere. Clermont has its own international airport, which has several flights to european airports. To get to Clermont from further afield, you need to catch a flight to Paris and then transfer. Another option would be a flight to a larger airport and then hire a car to come to Clermont Ferrand. If you just want to explore the town itself, it is possible to do so using public transport or on foot, however I advise you to hire a car, as this opens loads more opportunities for visits.
Top Attractions in Clermont Ferrand
The Puy de Dome
A train takes you to the summit of this dormant volcano. The « chain de puys » is a group of over 80 volcanos and the puy de dome is the highest point at 1465 metres. At the top you can take a tour round and see the other volcanoes stretched out in front of you, as well as the nearest mountain ranges, the mont Dore and the Sancy. There is a restaurant and snack bar at the top.
The cathedral of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption
The cathedral was built using the local dark Volvic volcanic rock, which fits in amazingly well with its Gothic architecture. The twin towers are 108 metres tall, and you can climb 50 metres up another tower, the Bayette, and have a spectacular view over the city.
Clermont has over 50 fountains, of all ages from the 1400's up to modern times. The most spectacular is the Amboise fountain, built in 1511 in a mix of Gothic and renaissance styles. The tourist office has a printed guide you can follow.
Volcan de Lemptégy
A little way out of Clermont is the Volcano of Lemptégy, a family attraction where you can see the interior of a real (dormant) volcano. The site is an old quarry used after the second world war as a source of stone for the rebuilding in France. There are two very good 4D animations, a guided tour, and you can bring home your own pieces of volcanic rock.
The Basilica Notre-Dame-du-Port
The 12th century basilica is a UNESCO world heritage site. Some of its most stunning features are the apse with the mosaics underneath, and the beautifully sculpted column heads.
Historic Clermont and Montferrand
A tale of two cities, in ancient times Clermont (Clairmont) and Montferrand were two enemy towns. Brought together by royal charter in the 1600 and 1700's the town took the name of Clermont Ferrand. The towns became physically combined from 1889 onwards, when the Michelin company started their business in between the two towns. Each old town has kept lots of its ancient buildings and you can visit many dating from the middle ages.