Clermont-Ferrand is a city in central France, the capital of the Auvergne region. Population 140,000.



Clermont-Ferrand is famous for the chain of extinct volcanoes that ring the city, including the highest, Puy-de-Dôme, some 13 km away from the city centre.


One of the oldest cities of France, its first mention was by the Greek geographer Strabo, who called it Nemessos, a Gaulish word for a sacred forest. The settlement witnessed the famous Battle of Gergovia, in which the Gauls led by Vercingetorix triumphed temporarily over the Romans led ultimately by Julius Caesar. After the Roman conquest, the city was renamed Augustonemetum, a name which combined its original Gallic name with that of the Emperor Augustus. Its population was estimated at 15,000–30,000 inhabitants in the 2nd century CE, making it one of the largest cities of Roman Gaul.

In 848, the city was renamed Clairmont, after the castle Clarus Mons. Clairmont was an episcopal city ruled by its bishop, and famously the starting point of the First Crusade raised to free Jerusalem from Muslim domination. Pope Urban II preached Crusade in 1095 at the Council of Clermont. In 1120, to counteract the power of the clergy, the counts of Auvergne founded the city of Montferrand on the model of the new cities of the Midi. In 1551, Clermont became a royal city, and in 1610, the inseparable property of the Crown.

On 15 April 1630, the Edict of Troyes (the First Edict of Union) forcibly joined the two cities of Clermont and Montferrand. This union was confirmed in 1731 by Louis XV with the Second Edict of Union. At this time Montferrand was no more than a satellite city of Clermont, in which condition it remained until the beginning of the 20th century. Wishing to retain its independence, Montferrand made three demands for independence, in 1789, 1848, and 1863.

Contemporary City

In the 20th century, the construction of the Michelin factories and city gardens definitively reunited Clermont and Montferrand. Today, although the two cities are amalgamated, one may find in Clermont-Ferrand two distinct downtowns, and Montferrand retains a strong identity.

Clermont-Ferrand remains home to the famous French tire manufacturing company Michelin.

Get in

The best way to travel around France is by train, and Clermont-Ferrand's train station is located just on the eastern edge of centre ville on l'Avenue de l'Union Sovietique. Trains leave every couple of hours to and from Paris throughout the day 5:00 - 20:00. The ride takes three and a half hours, and makes four stops along the way.

Clermont-Ferrand also has a bus station. The Gare Routiere is located at in the parking lot across from the Casino supermarket where Boulevard François Mitterrand splits into Boulevard Pasteur and Boulevard Charles de Gaulle, two main blocks south of Place de Jaude. Since France doesn't have a national bus line, all routes arriving and departing from the bus terminal are international. The company Eurolines departs and arrives from here.

Clermont-Ferrand is also at the intersection of the A-71 and A-72 highways. Remember, gas is at least twice as expensive in France as it is in the United States, and lots of highways are toll roads. With the exception of the Millau viaduct, the A75 is free and allows you to come from the South (Montpellier, Toulouse, ...).

The Aeroport Clermont-Ferrand Aulnat is located fifteen minutes east of town. Air France flies here, and shuttles take you to centre ville.

Get around

A tram in Clermont-Ferrand

A one-way ticket costs 1.40 Euros and is good for an hour. You can also buy 10 tickets for 11.40 Euros. Tickets are good on the Tram or any of the bus lines, and do not expire.

Clermont has recently opened an intra-urban tramway providing access to a number of key points in the city. Also you can get around by car or scooter or motorcycle or moped.

This tram, known as the A starts North in Champratel and travels South through centre ville, Les Cezeaux campus before ending at La Pardieu Gare.

Clermont-Ferrand also has an extensive bus network connecting the downtown to the outlying suburbs. The stations and stops are frequent and the map is not confusing. The buses are limited on Saturdays and Sundays.

Finally like most European cities, Clermont-Ferrand is very walkable. Any destination or need is within a 30 minute walk. Use your legs to explore the hills and alleys and the neighborhood shops they contain.

You can find some public Wifi spots around: in the Jardin Lecoq, or on the Place de Jaude for example. Here is a directory.


Vercingetorix the Gallic leader





Go next

See the get in section.

Note that the airport links you to some of the big European cities, like Amsterdam, Brussels or Madrid.

Apart from the Milllau viaduct, the A75 highway is free and links to the South.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, January 11, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.