Clermont-Ferrand is the historic capital of Auvergne, in central France, which is a very green and quiet region. It is a great place if you like calm and nature as it is situated next to the volcanic chain where you can enjoy a hike, but also if you want to discover an uncommon destination in France.
There are many activities to do and places to see, without forgetting the traditional cuisine of the region. The city is well connected to the rest of France thanks to its highways, and it is also possible to go there by plane or by train.
The name of the city comes from the union of two older cities in the 17th century, Clermont and Montferrand, which was asked by the king of France Louis XIII in 1630. Montferrand is now a neighbourhood of the city and is the medieval quarter.
Clermont-Ferrand International short film festival
If you love cinema, the best moment to come to Clermont-Ferrand is in February. Every year in the city takes place the International Short Film Festival, at this period. It is the biggest short film festival not only in France, but worldwide, and the second largest in France after Cannes.
It was first created in 1979 for french participants and became international in 1988. 2018 edition of the festival gathered participants from more than 40 different countries and projected hundreds of short-films. In 2017, it is 161 000 persons that attented the Clermont-Ferrand International short-film festival. In this festival everyone can find its happiness as there are films from various registers, it is for all tastes !
Futhermore, if you would like to know more about the professions of cinema, "L'Atelier" will make you discover them thanks to students from different universities in France. During five days of the festival, the visitors can see their work : Sound engeneers, Graphic designers, Special effects directors, Directors, Video editors, Actors, Make-up artists ...
The films presented are divided into three categories: National, International and Lab (i.e Experimental films section), and are projected in different places of the city. In 2019 will be the 41st edition of the festival, held from February the 1st to February the 9th.
Find more info on: https://clermont-filmfest.org/en/
What else is there to do while your stay in Clermont-Ferrand ?
"Notre-Dame de l'Assomption" Cathedral
Built in 1248 and finally achieved in 1884, this gothic style Cathedral is a must see. The walls that are built in Volvic stone, a volcanic rock, make the Cathedral unique by its dark colour. It is situated in Center of Clermont-Ferrand at the crossroad of different streets and places of medieval age, and constitutes the old neighnorhood of the city. You can also visit the crypt, that has been damaged by time but still is interesting to see by its architecture, built in a roman style, that keeps a sarcophagus from the 4th century in white marble.
This church is part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 1998, because of its location, on the road to Santiago de Compostela in France. Built in a roman style, it has been restored 4th time since the 19th century, the volvic stone we can observe in the church's walls were put in order to create a mozaribic style.
This is the most popular square of Clermont-Ferrand, regrouping historical monuments, such as the two satues casted in bronze, the statue of general Desaix, inaugurated in 1848 and the statue of Vercingetorix on his horse, inaugurated in 1903. You can also find and visit on the west side of the square the Opera-Theater while in the east side stands the Saint-Pierre-des-Minimes Church. For those who like shopping, you will also find two shopping malls and the Lafayette Galeries in this Square.
Puy de Dôme
The region is known for one of its sleeping volcano,situated about 15 km away of the city, the "Puy de Dôme" with half a million of visitors per year. You can access to it by car, hiking, or by a train called "Panoramique des Dômes" wich takes you by the volcanic chain to the top of Puy de Dôme. There you can enjoy a very nice view of the entire volcanic chain, but also from the city Clermont-Ferrand.
There are three main gardens amongst others you can enjoy in Clermont: Lecoq garden, Montjuzet parc and the Botanical garden. But Lecoq Garden is the most central, it is situated in the universities quarter, 10 minutes away by walking from Jaude Square, while the two others are a little further. Montzujet parc is about 30 minutes walking or 10 minutes by car from the city center but you will be able to have a view of the city from above, perfect if you want to stay away of the city for a while and relax. Finally, unless you are a confirmed marcher you will perhaps won't want to go by foot to the botanical garden as it is near an hour of walk, but it is accessible by car (15 minutes). There you will find 2 hectares of 2 600 different plants species.
Henri-Lecoq museum: It is a natural sciences museum dedicated to natural heritage of the territory, animals, plants, minerals.Every year the museum sets up a temporary exhibition. This year, from febrary to november 2018, it proposes a ludic exhibition for families and childrens with games about mathematics
Roger Quilliot Art museum: This Gallery gathers works of art from the middle age to the 20th century on floors. It is situated in an old convent, in Montferrand, historical and medieval neighbourhood of the city, that you could then explore after visiting the museum.
ASM Rugby Team:
If you come to Clermont-Ferrand, you will perhaps notice some people with blue and yellow clothes like scarfs and shirts, that are the colours of Clermont-Ferrand rugby team. People of the city and more globally of the region love rugby and support this team, that won the national title in 2017 and was finalist in the European Cup in 2017. If you have the chance, going to see one of the match is an ocasion to meet local people, and experiment the atmosphere in the stadium. If there is no rugby game while your stay and that you are still interested about the rugby spirit, you can have the ASM Experience, that offers you to see the stadium, and make a thematic path in this sportive universe.
What you can eat and where ?
As you are in Clermont-Ferrand, you might want to taste traditionnal products. You can find them on the markets or specialised shops, especially the cheese, for what the region is known. There are four main traditonnal cheese: Cantal, Saint-Nectaire, Bleu d'Auvergne and Fourme d'Ambert. Auvergne also has fruit spread for a food speciality.
Coeur de Volcan: Near Jaude Square, there you'll find products 100% from Auvergne, cheese, jam, biscuits, sweets, wine, alcohol...
Saint-Pierre market: Open moday to friday, this is a nice indoor market in the city center, where you can shop fruits and vegetables and typical products from the region.
Creperie Le 1513: Situated in a particular hotel of renaissance style with a courtyard, you can have salted and sugary crepes, specialities from Britany in France.
Il visconti: Italian restaurant next to the cathedral.
Le bistrot des Dames: Nice little restaurant located near the cathedral that offers typical food.
Brasserie derriere: On Victory's place, you can relax having just a drink or a meal.
La tete dans le pion: Little Cafe where you can also play some boardgames.
Columbus cafe and co: In Jaude Mall, you can go there take a hot drink with a pastry or have lunch, you will find some sandwiches.
You can find different types of accomodation in Clermont for different prices:
Le petit Siam is a Bed and Breakfast place, decorated in an oriental manner, you can enjoy Clermont in an unusual way. Hotel Oceania is about 5 minutes walking from Lecoq Garden, the rooms are clean and modern, such as ones from Hotel Le Lion in Jaude Square. Near the central Square you also have the Dav Hotel Jaude that has Urban styled rooms.
All of these Hotels offer breakfast and are central, so you can do a major part of the sighseeing by foot.
Author: Helene Marchandise