Constructed with volcanic stone, the cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand is an impressive dark colour housing the town clock. It may seem a little sad at first, but its Gothic architecture is spectacular. Personally, I've always been impressed with the idea that people have built, without today's tools, prestigious buildings. The cathedral was built between 1248 and 1355.
Montferrand neighborhood is a little far away from the center of the city if you don´t have a car. But, you can get there in 15 minutes by tram (1.40 / ticket). Going from the plaza with the fountain to the bell tower, you´ll see medieval houses with their interesting doors and windows and cool sculptures. Unfortunately no one can visit (or at least it was closed the day that I was there), but I really felt like I was traveling back in time when I was walking down certain streets. I sincerely recommend this walk. It´ll take an hour more or less depending on the the time you spend enjoying this historical urban landscape!
A peaceful place located a few blocks from the Place Jaude in downtown Clermont. There are malls, some games for kids, trees, and at the time I was there, a photographic exhibit. It´s a good place for a summer picnic or a nap. In autumn and spring, it closes at 7.30pm, in winter at 6pm and in summer until 9pm.
The Jaude Place is the central square (even if it's a little west) in Clermont. It is rectangular, and surrounded by buildings of all ages, so it's accessible by many bus and train lines. A large shopping centre nearby allows you to purchase food, and located in front is the statue of Vercingetorix, the Gallic opponent of Julius Caesar. There is a bit of everything surrounding it, like a McDonalds and other fast food places, bars and terraces, benches to wait for friends so that you can grab a drink in the old town or in the lively new streets.
During the holidays, we climbed to the top of the Puy de Dome. When we got to the top, it was a pleasure to discover the strange landscape where one side of the area was raining and the other was very sunny. This picture shows how lovely it was. Greetings to all.
After the tall black towers of the cathedral, Notre Dame du Port seems like it's being hidden under an old shell, with lighter stones and more solid, simple architecture. Unfortunately, I was unable to enter. Please, if you have visited here, let me know what it was like inside!
The region of Auvergne and the Massif Central is home to some ancient mountains, which today would be more like hills! Among them are hidden volcanoes, inactive today but ve give their name to the natural park located west of the entire area and west of the city of Clermont-Ferrand where you can go for a walk in the park. We walked through a park of 395,070 hectares, one of the largest in France that spans two administrative departments (Cantal and Puy-de-Dome). In other words - it is a paradise for walkers! As a beginner, I confess that I didn't really have any problem climbing a couple of volcanoes, the altitude and inclination were fine. The autumnal colors of the landscape make it look even more beautiful so I advise that you go in this season! It is best to have car to get there or you can take a bus from Clermont-Ferrand (there is a bus station in the center) from one of the nearby villages.
The Saint Pierre Market is a really ugly building. No point beating round the bush. However, as in any French city, this indoor market offers fresh produce which is typical of the area. It's a great place to buy good products and sample local specialties. I went to the cheese stalls, eager to try the typical cheese of Clermont and the Auvergne area: the Saint-Nectaire, obviously!, But I did find others at a normal price (do not expect to pay what you would in a supermarket as it is always more expensive in a traditional market). Around the building, in the square, there are shops (flowers, cheese, etc ...) to finish your shopping. Bon appetit!
Being a tourist, I thought the city of Clermont-Ferrand was pretty well covered in terms of public transport. The only tram line will allow you to go directly from the center to the historic district of Montferrand, in 15 minutes. The many bus lines also allow you to save a few long trips if you are being left near the center or even up in cities than adjoin with Clermont-Ferrand. You buy the tram tickets at one of the machines they have at each stop. You can buy the bus tickets from the driver. The unit price is 1.40 € and the ticket is good for 1 hour and 10 mins from the first trip. If traveling in a group or you are going to use it multiple times the transports while staying advise buy a book of 10 tickets for 11.60 € (small savings, but it is a saving!). If it has already left for other cities you can take the train to Vichy for example, in the train station, or an autobus towards the natural park of the volcanoes, in the bus station in Gambetta Square.
The SNCF railway station is located on Avenue of the Soviet Union, a name that keeps you wondering when you discover the building's architecture! But getting there was easy. I discovered that the area has an interesting network of trains, and opposite the station there is a map of the urban bus network and stops, essential for anyone who has just arrived and wants to travel around Clermont and to its surroundings! In case you need to take a break from travelling, there is a small park a few meters away.
The church in the old quarter of Montferrand is located just a few steps from the area's central square. It is medieval and grey, like the region's other old buildings, which were built with volcanic stone. Its solid appearance contrasts with some fine, scarce sculptures that adorn it. The bell tower especially caught my attention from afar, whose forms still reminds me of medieval tales. It's a curiosity of this area that's worth seeing, even though it's outside the center of Clermont-Ferrand, but easily accessible by tram.
On my way to the Clermont-Ferrand train station, I came across a building that caught my intention. It was large, imposing, and classical. I thought it might be some old convent or spiritual place but when I turned around, I realized it was just an institute of secondary education! The "lycée" Jeanne d'Arc was created in the late nineteenth century to educate ladies during the time of massive development of public education. The opening year of this high school in 1901 would also be secular. it was a landmark!