What do you know about Clermont-Ferrand? Probably not much. The central city of Auvergne sits roughly in the middle between Paris and the French Riviera, in the heart of France. Surrounded by the massive Massif Central mountain range of extinct volcanoes, historic villages and churches, lakes, and green forests, the little-known region of France has a lot to offer. But let’s start with Clermont-Ferrand as the city will likely be your first stop when arriving in the area. Wonder what to see: here are our Top Things to do in Clermont-Ferrand.
Things to Do in Clermont-Ferrand
From historic buildings to festivals, fantastic food, and hiking opportunities, Clermont-Ferrand offers plenty of things to do for all. Check our list for what to do in Clermont-Ferrand almost all year round. Have you been? Did we miss something? Feel free to let us know in the Comment section.
Officially called the “Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption,” the tall gothic cathedral from the 13th-century is Clermont-Ferrand’s most iconic sight as the spires stand at over 95 m, high above most of the city buildings. Made of the local black volcanic rock, the Clermont-Ferrand Cathedrale is a must-see!
You most likely own or owned a pair of Michelin tires. Find out more about the brand history at the Michelin Group’s museum, which takes you through an interactive experience.
Parc de Montjuzet
For great views over Clermont-Ferrand and of the cathedral, head to the hilltop parc. Go for a stroll along the flower banks, watch the locals jogging or walking their dogs, kids having fun on the playground. An excellent place to hang.
Place de Jaude
The Place de Jaude is the commercial heart of Clermont-Ferrand, with malls, cafes, and restaurants, movie theaters, and the Ferry Wheel. The place is by the old part of town and is a great place to start your exploration of the city.
Probably the most famous character of Clermont Ferrand, the massive statue commemorates Vercingetorix, Celtic war chief that won a historic battle against Caesar’s Roman Army at Gergovie during the Gallic Wars some 2,000 years ago.
Musée d’Art Roger-Quilliot
Hosted in a 17th-century convent rebuilt with modern architecture, items from the Middle Ages to today cover painting, sculpture, photos, and sculptures.
The Romanesque church might be less visited than the Cathedrale but is actually older, as the foundation date s back to the 6th-century even if it took 500 years to be rebuilt. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Basilica is famous for its unusual black Madonna.
Walk the old streets, watch for the arched doors already shops in Medieval times, marvel at the ancient designs. Old Montferrand was a separate town than Clermont, a rival city until the two united as one by royal decree in 1630 by edict of Troyes under Louis XV.
Place de la Victoire
This place de la Victoire is actually the historical heart of Clermont-Ferrand since its Gallo-roman time when the city was called Augustonemetum, which is said was built in the first century BE.
Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle Henri-Lecoq
One of the oldest museums of Clermont-Ferrand, the Henri-Lecoq Museum features an extensive collection of over 50,000 rocks, fossils, and minerals. One of the prized items is La Pascaline, which was invented by Blaise Pascal for calculations.
Another public garden which is also called “Jardin des plantes” featuring seasonal plants.
The 16th-century fountain offers an exciting mix of gothic and Renaissance architecture using the local volcanic Volvic stone.
Things to Do Around Clermont-Ferrand
The famous dormant volcano is Clermont-Ferrand, another iconic sight, overlooking the city from its 1,464 m, and one of the many ancient volcanoes that compose the Auvergne region.
You can reach the top on foot by hiking along one of the two trails, either the former Roman road called the Sentier des Muletiers, or the Sentier des Chèvres, or take the small train that departs from the visitor center.
Once at the top, visit the ancient ruins of a Gallo-Roman Mercury temple, pause for a coffee, or continue hiking to the nearby Puys of the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park (Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d’Auvergne).
A popular volcano theme park, Vulcania is an educational amusement park with a volcano, primarily known for its 4-D film The Awakening of the Auvergne Giants.
Puy de Pariou
The Puy is another popular destination, presenting a distinct shape created by the overlay of two strombolian cones and a tuff ring.
Plateau de Gergovie
About 6 miles (10 km) south of Clermont-Ferrand, the plateau is named after the village of the same name. The site is known for being the place where Vercingetorix fought and won against Julius Caesar in 52 BC. Today, a tall monument, a new museum, and walking grounds are present.
Abbey of Saint-Pierre Mozac
The Mozac Abbey is a Cluniac monastery from the 6th-century in nearby Riom.
Basilique Notre-Dame d’Orcival
Built in the 12th century, the basilica is one of the five major Roman churches of Auvergne, together with the Notre-Dame-du-Port Basilic in Clermont-Ferrand, the Saint-Austremoine Church in Issoire, the Saint-Nectaire church in the town of the same name, and the Notre-Dame de Saint-Saturnin church. While the village is rather small, the basilica is a must-see!
Chateau de Murol
The first castle was built in the 12th century on a basalt hilltop in order to watch the different ways passing nearby. A second wave of construction in the 14th century reinforced the initial structure, with a keep, another chapel, and new buildings. A visit today will let travelers imagine how life was in the Middle Age, with most of the castle still standing. A light and sound show, as well as medieval appearances in the courtyard, provide for lively performances.
Auvergne Food Specialties
Don’t leave Clermont-Ferrand without tasting some of the famous Auvergne Cheese. Of course, Bleu d’Auvergne (Blue Cheese) might be the better known, but St. Nectaire is the local favorite. Add Salers, Fourme d’Ambert, et Cantal at the minimum. Connaisseurs might want to add a creamy Gaperon.
Truffade, Potée Auvergnate, Petit Sale aux Lentilles du Puy, Soupe au chou, and plenty cured meats (Charcuteries Auvergnates) will surely have you come for more!
Events in Clermont-Ferrand
Go to the Michelin Stadium to watch a rugby match the locals are fans. The ASM Clermont Auvergne team is considered one of the best in France and actually won the French Championship in 2010 and 2017.
Clermont Ferrand Christmas Market
The yearly event is held on the Place de la Victoire by the Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral from the end of November to mid-January.
Any other recommendations to add? Any feedback on these products? Please comment below!
Stay tuned for more adventures
from our travel around the world!
This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a percentage if you make a purchase using these links – at no cost to you. Our opinions are our own and are not impacted by these partnerships.
ZeWanderingFrogs.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc., or its affiliates.