Auvergne’s capital is dominated by volcanic peaks to the north, west and south, in a setting that will give you goosebumps.
If you come by car the first landmark you’ll spot below is the cathedral, made with jet black igneous rock and like no other church in the country.
Clermont-Ferrand is crammed with engaging history, and is a young and convivial university city, with a pedigree for learning that goes back to Blaise Pascal.
The city is also the home of Michelin, which is famed for a lot more than just tyres, as you’ll discover at the L’Aventure Michelin a new museum showing how an iconic French brand came to be.
Lets explore the best things to do in Clermont-Ferrand:
1. Basilique Notre-Dame-du-Port
The most revered of the romanesque churches of Auvergne, this basilica was first founded in the 6th century but rebuilt some 500 years later.
Don’t go in without seeing the geometric mosaics on the exterior walls of the apse and radiating chapels, made with sandstone and volcanic rock.
You may need some form of interpretation but it’s well worth going slow and observing the capitals between the chancel and ambulatory, as each one is full of symbolism and tells its own story.
These carvings are the best-preserved romanesque art in the region and show bible episodes like the assumption and Adam and Eve being expelled from paradise, as well as medieval allegorical images.