Formed when the ancient towns of Clermont and Montferrand combined, this is a city with lots of history and a bustling modern vibe.
Wander the charming historic center and port district of Clermont-Ferrand. When you visit the Romanesque basilica of Notre-Dame-du-Port, note the old-world feel as you cross the ramparts of the old town. Take a break in one of the many squares. Café Pascal in Place de la Victoire is a popular choice with locals. Then head on to Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral to admire this Gothic church made from local black lava rock.
After seeing the sights, treat yourself to some local produce at the covered St Pierre Market, close to the Place de Jaude. It’s open 6 days a week (closed Sundays) and packed with all the local produce you could hope for. Sample the Auvergne cheeses and cured meats as well as preserves, which are a particular specialty. Buy something to eat as you wander or enjoy a more leisurely lunch in one of the market’s brasseries.
If you fancy some afternoon culture, visit the well-regarded Natural History museum, Museum Henri Lecoq. It is Clermont-Ferrand’s oldest museum, and houses over 650,000 specimens and objects. Learn about everything from botany, zoology, geology and paleontology to the history of science and technology. It is open 6 days a week most of the year.
Alternatively, stop by L’Aventure Michelin (the Michelin Adventure), which tells the story of Clermont-Ferrand’s own Michelin tires. This is one of the city’s most highly rated tourist attractions. The museum examines the history of the rubber tire, as well as looking at its use, including in space travel. It’s an interactive experience with lots of exhibits that appeal to both adults and children. Reach it by tram from the city center to Stade Marcel-Michelin station.
To get around Clermont-Ferrand city center use the local tram, which will take you to most sites. Or if you are feeling more adventurous, the city has around 50 miles (80 kilometers) of bicycle lanes that run alongside the tram. City bikes are available to rent at over 40 locations. Grab yourself a rental point map from the Tourist Information Office in Place de la Victoire.