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Clermont-Ferrand is located in France
Location in France

Clermont-Ferrand is located in Auvergne
Location in Auvergne
Coordinates: 45°46′59″N 3°04′57″E / 45.78306, 3.0825
Country France
Region Auvergne
Department Puy-de-Dôme
Arrondissement Clermont-Ferrand
 • Mayor Serge Godard
 • Total 42.67 km2 (16.47 sq mi)
Elevation 358 m (1,175 ft)
Highest elevation 321 m (1,053 ft)
Lowest elevation 602 m (1,975 ft)
 • Total 140,700
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 63000
INSEE 63113
Website [1]

Clermont-Ferrand (Auvergnat Occitan: Clarmont-Ferrand / Clarmont d'Auvèrnhe) is a city and commune of France, in the Auvergne region, with a population of 140,700 (2006). Its metropolitan area had 409,558 inhabitants at the 1999 census. It is the prefecture (capital) of the Puy-de-Dôme department. Serge Godard is the current Mayor of the city.

View of the city and the nearby Puy de Dome volcano

Clermont-Ferrand sits on the plain of Limagne in the Massif Central and is surrounded by a major industrial area. The city is famous for the chain of volcanoes, the Chaîne des Puys surrounding it. The famous dormant volcano Puy-de-Dôme (10 km from the city) is one of the highest of these and well known for the telecommunication antennas that sit on its top and are visible from far away.

Clermont-Ferrand is also famous for hosting one of the world's leading international festivals for short films, the Festival du Court Metrage de Clermont-Ferrand, as well as the corporate headquarters of Michelin, the global tire company created more than 100 years ago in the city.

Clermont-Ferrand's most famous public square is place de Jaude, on which stands a grand statue of Vercingetorix sitting imperiously on a horse and holding a glaive. The inscription reads: J'ai pris les armes pour la liberté de tous (English: I took up arms for the liberty of all). This statue was sculpted by Frédéric Bartholdi, who also created the Statue of Liberty.

Recently, Clermont-Ferrand was France's first city to get a new guided light transit system, thereby linking the city's north and south neighbourhoods.


Prehistoric and Roman[]

Statue of Vercingétorix by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi on the main square of the city

Clermont ranks among the oldest cities of France. The first known mention was by the Greek geographer Strabo, who called it the "metropolis of the Arverni" (meaning their oppidum, civitas or tribal capital). The city was at that time called Nemessos – a Gaulish word for a sacred forest, and was situated on the mound where the current cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand has been constructed. It was somewhere in the area around Nemossos where the Arverni chieftain Vercingetorix (later to head a unified Gallic resistance to Roman invasion under Julius Caesar) was born in around 72 BC. Also, Nemossos was situated not far from the plateau of Gergovia, where Vercingetorix pushed back the Roman assault at the Battle of Gergovia in 52 BC. After the Roman conquest, the city became known as Augustonemetum sometime in the 1st century, 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, making it one of the largest cities of Roman Gaul. It then became Arvernis in the 3rd century (taking its name, like other Gallic cities in this era, from the people who lived within its walls), going through an expansion that ended in the mid 3rd century.

Early Middle Ages[]

The city became the seat of a bishop in the 5th century, at the time of the bishop Namatius or Saint Namace, who built a cathedral here described by Gregory of Tours. Clermont went through a dark period after the disappearance of the Roman Empire and during the whole High Middle Ages, marked by pillaging by the peoples who invaded Gaul. Between 471 and 475, Auvergne was often the target of Visigothic expansion, and the city was frequently besieged, including once by Euric. Although defended by Sidonius Apollinaris, at the head of the diocese from 468 to 486, and the patrician Ecdicius, the city was ceded to the Visigoths by emperor Julius Nepos in 475 and became part of the Visigothic kingdom until 507. A generation later, it became part of the kingdom of the Franks. On 8 November 535 the first Council of Clermont opened at Arvernis (Clermont), with fifteen bishops participating, including Caesarius of Arles, Nizier of Lyons (bishop of Trèves) and Saint Hilarius, bishop of Mende. Sixteen decrees were made there, notably the second canon that recalls that the granting of episcopal dignity must be according to the merits and not as a result of intrigues.

In 570, Bishop Avitus offered the Jews of his town (who numbered over 500) the alternative of baptism or expulsion. [1]

In 848, the city was renamed Clairmont, after the castle Clarus Mons. During this era, it was an episcopal city ruled by its bishop. Clermont was not spared by the Vikings at the time of the weakening of the Carolingian Empire either, being ravaged by the Normans under Hastein or Hastingen for the first time in 862 and 864 and, while its bishop Sigon carried out reconstruction work, again in 898 (or 910, according to some sources). Bishop Étienne II built a new Roman cathedral on the site of the current cathedral, consecrated in 946 but (apart from the towers, only replaced by the current ones in the 19th century, and some parts of the crypt, still visible) destroyed to build current Gothic cathedral.

Middle Ages[]

Clermont was the starting point of the First Crusade, in which Christendom sought to free Jerusalem from Muslim domination: Pope Urban II preached the crusade there in 1095, at the Second Council of Clermont. In 1120, following repeated crises between the counts of Auvergne and the bishops of Clermont and in order to counteract the clergy's power, the counts founded the rival city of Montferrand on a mound next to the fortifications of Clermont, on the model of the new cities of the Midi springing up in the 12th and 13th centuries. Until the early modern period, the two remained separate cities: Clermont, an episcopal city; Montferrand, a comital one.

Early Modern and Modern eras[]

Clermont became a royal city in 1551, 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.

In the 20th century, construction of the Michelin factories and of city gardens, which shaped the modern Clermont-Ferrand, definitively reunited Clermont and Montferrand. But even today, although the two cities have been amalgamated, one may find in Clermont-Ferrand two distinct downtowns, and Montferrand still retains a strong identity.


Climate data for Clermont Ferrand
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.3
Average low °C (°F) −0.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 28.7
Avg. precipitation days 6 6 6 9 12 9 7 8 7 8 7 6 91
Source: World Meteorological Organisation (UN)[2]


Food production and processing as well as engineering are major employers in the area, as are the many research facilities of major computer software and pharmaceutical companies.

The city's industry for a long time was linked to the French tyre manufacturer Michelin, which created the radial tyre and grew up from Clermont-Ferrand to become a worldwide leader in its industry. For most of the 20th century, it ran extensive factory works throughout the city, employing up to 30,000 workers at a time. While the company has maintained its headquarters in the city, most of the manufacturing is now done in foreign countries. This downsizing took place gradually, allowing the city to court new investment in other industries, avoiding the fate of many post-industrial cities and keeping it a very wealthy and prosperous area home of many high-income executives.

Rue Montlosier, in Clermont-Ferrand with the Puy de Dôme mountain in the background.


The main railway station has connections to Paris and several regional destinations: Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Moulins, Le Puy-en-Velay, Limoges. The motorway A71 connects Clermont-Ferrand with Orléans and Bourges, the A72 with Saint-Étienne, the A75 with Montpellier and the A89 with Bordeaux. The airport offers mainly flights within France.


Education is also an important factor in the economy of Clermont-Ferrand. The Université Blaise Pascal and Université d'Auvergne are located there and have a total student population of over 30,000, along with university faculty and staff.

A division of Polytech (an engineering school) located in Clermont-Ferrand made the news because two of its students, Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, were murdered in June 2008 while enrolled in a program at Imperial College in London in what was to be known as the New Cross double murder.[3]

Main sights[]

Religious architecture[]

Basilica of Notre-Dame du Port.

Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption

Clermont-Ferrand has two famous churches:

  • Notre-Dame du Port: a Romanesque church built during the 11th and 12th centuries (the bell tower was rebuilt during the 19th century). It was nominated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998.
  • Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption de Clermont-ferrand), built in Gothic style between the 13th and the 19th centuries.

Parks and gardens[]

  • Jardin botanique de la Charme
  • Arboretum de Royat
  • Jardin botanique d'Auvergne


One of the 48 public fountains with the cathedral in background. The fountain and the cathedral are made with the typical black volcanic stone of the area named "pierre de Volvic".

Clermont-Ferrand was the home of mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal who tested Evangelista Torricelli's hypothesis concerning the influence of gas pressure on liquid equilibrium. This is the experiment where a vacuum is created in a mercury tube: Pascal's experiment had his brother-in-law carry a barometer to the top of the Puy-de-Dôme. The Université Blaise-Pascal (or Clermont-Ferrand II) is located primarily in the city and is named after him.

Clermont-Ferrand also hosts world's first international short film festival which originated in 1979. This festival, which brings thousands of people every year (137.000 in 2008) to the city, is the second French film Festival after Cannes in term of visitors, but the first one regarding the number of spectators (in Cannes visitors are not allowed in theatres, only professionals). This festival has revealed many young talented directors now well known in France and internationally such as Mathieu Kassovitz, Cédric Klapisch and Éric Zonka.

Beside the short film festival, Clermont-Ferrand hosts more than twenty music, film, dance and theatre festivals every year. With more than 200 artistic groups from dance to music, Clermont-Ferrand and the Auvergne region's cultural life is important in France. One of the city's nicknames is "France's Liverpool". Groups such as The Elderberries were formed there.

Additionally, the city was the subject of the acclaimed documentary The Sorrow and the Pity, which used Clermont-Ferrand as the basis of the film, which told the story of France under Nazi occupation and the Vichy regime of Marshal Pétain. Pierre Laval, Pétain's "handman" was an Auvergnat.


A racing circuit, the Charade Circuit, close to the city, using closed-off public roads held the French Grand Prix in 1965, 1969, 1970 and 1972. It was a daunting circuit, with such harsh elevation changes that caused some drivers to be ill as they drove. Winners included Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart (twice), and Jochen Rindt.

The city is also host to a rugby union club competing at national level, ASM Clermont Auvergne, as well as Clermont Foot Auvergne, a football club that has competed in France's second division, Ligue 2, since the 2007–08 season.

Famous people[]

Clermont-Ferrand was the birthplace of[]

  • Nicolas Chamfort (6 April 1741 – 13 April 1794), writer
  • Étienne Clémentel (29 March 1864 – 25 December 1936), politician
  • Jacques Delille (22 June 1738 – 1 May 1813), poet
  • Patrick Depailler (9 August 1944 – 1 August 1980), Formula One driver
  • Annelise Hesme (11 May 1976 – ), actress
  • Antoine de L'Hoyer (1768–1852), composer, guitarist, soldier
  • Bernard Loiseau (13 January 1951 – 24 February 2003), celebrity chef
  • Jordan Loties footballer
  • Blaise Pascal (19 June 1623 – 19 August 1662), mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher
  • Jacqueline Pascal (4 October 1625 – 4 October 1661), his sister
  • George Onslow (27 July 1784 – 3 October 1853) composer
  • Aurélien Rougerie, (24 September 1980 – ) rugby union player, member of the French national team
  • François-Bernard Mâche (4 April 1935 – ) composer
  • Audrey Tautou (9 August 1976/1978 – ) actress
  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1 May 1881 – 10 April 1955) Jesuit priest, paleontologist, philosopher
  • Dominique Perrault (1953 – ), architect

People that have lived in Clermont-Ferrand[]

  • Sidonius Apollinaris (c. 430 – after 489) Gallo-Roman poet, diplomat and bishop
  • Paul Bourget (2 September 1852 – 25 December 1935), novelist and critic
  • Henri Bergson (18 October 1859 – 4 January 1941), philosopher
  • Alexandre Vialatte (1901–1971), writer and journalist
  • Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (2 February 1927 – ... ), who has lived in the city of Chamalières, part of Clermont-Ferrand's metropolitan area, President of the Republic of France from 1974 to 1981
  • Anton Docher (1852-1928) "The Padre of Isleta", a Roman Catholic priest, missionary and defender of the Indians lived in the pueblo of Isleta in the state of New Mexico for 34 years.
  • Claude Lazmann (1925-...), Film maker. Attended the Lycée Blaise-Pascal.

International relations[]

Twin towns – sister cities[]

Clermont-Ferrand is twinned with:

See also[]

  • Communes of the Puy-de-Dôme department


  • INSEE commune file
  • Sweets, John F. (1986). Choices in Vichy France : The French under Nazi Occupation. New York. 
  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Judaica. Cengage Learning. "France, column 9, In 576 Bishop *Avitus of Clermont-Ferrand offered the Jews of his town (who numbered over 500) to alternative of baptism or expulsion."  as quoted by Palomino, Michael. "Encyclopaedia Judaica: Jews in France 01: Roman times and Carolingians". History in Chronology. 
  2. ^ "World Weather Information Service – Clermont Ferrand". United Nations. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Fresco, Adam; Yeoman, Fran; Leroux, Marcus (4 July 2008). "Police baffled by horrific end of Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez". The Times (UK). Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  4. ^ "Twinning". Aberdeen City Council. Retrieved 2 March 2008. 

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