The cathedral overlooking the tree-lined Place de la Victoire. Photo © HEMIS droits

Gateway to the Massif Central and strategically situated in the centre of France, the historic capital of Auvergne makes a good base for exploring the villages.

Originally it was two separate towns. On the top of the hill, Clermont grew up around the Gothic cathedral of volcanic lava, whilst on the Limagne plain below, the medieval town of Montferrand was founded by the Counts of Auvergne.

The building material may be sombre but Clermont-Ferrand today is dotted with green parks and bisected by the Allier. Relax in the shade beneath the trees of the Jardin Lecoq botanical park; take in the city views from Parc Bargoin; and browse the boutiques in car-free Place de Jaude.

The impressive Place de Jaude is worth exploring. Photo © Luc Oliver

Wander amongst elegant mansions from the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment; visit the UNESCO-listed Romanesque basilica; and admire no fewer than 50 fountains.

And no visit to Clermont-Ferrand would be complete without a visit to L’Aventure Michelin, the flagship attraction for the city’s most famous commercial enterprise. At 1,465 metres tall, Puy-de-Dôme is an impressive backdrop to the city; hike it, bike it, or jump off it in a tandem paraglide experience.

And to find out more about the volcanic landscape of Auvergne, enjoy a full-on immersive experience for all the family at Vulcania, the European Park of Volcanism on the outskirts of the city.

Related articles: Discover the Enchanting Villages of Auvergne
What to See and Do in Auvergne
Where to Stay and Eat in Auvergne

For more information, head to the Clermont-Ferrand website here

From France Today magazine

Clermont-Ferrand was originally two separate towns. Photo © HEMIS droits

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