Best Things to do in Clermont-Ferrand in France
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Being personally attached to this beautiful Auvergne city, I’ll be sure to give you more than x options of the best things to do in Clermont-Ferrand!
Located pretty much in the sole center of France, Clermont-Ferrand is famous for being surrounded by giant chain of volcanos! Yup, you heard it right! No worries though, they have shut down centuries ago. In more modern history, it is known to be home to the corporate headquarters of Michelin.
For me, it is one of those cities that has a soul. Smaller cities in France are usually pretty quiet and have no life to it except on the weekends. This one is livelier than that. Besides a vast number of coffee places and restaurants, it has a cinema, basketball and rugby games (this one is extremely popular), as well as a swimming pool, spa centers, night clubs, and more! On the other hand, there are so many places of nature you can visit to relax and rest your soul.
Wondering how to pack a carry-on? Check out our guide!
Best Things to do in Clermont Ferrand
Know also as the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption for the French, this gorgeous piece of Gothic architecture is the ONLY black cathedral in France! That is due to the fact that it was built entirely from black lava stone, with people carving the stones from Volvic and dragging it down to Clermont.
Fun fact: this cathedral was inspired by the famous Holy Chapel in Paris. The cathedral itself was built and dropped to ruins three times before its final building that started in 1248.
It is located in the city center, but you can see it from many places in the city, as it sits very high and stands out being all black and divine.
I personally find it to be extremely powerful-looking and scary at the same time (because of all those gremlin-like creatures being built all over). The black stone makes it look dominant and divine, both during the day and the night. MUST SEE!
Puy de Dome is a lava dome and one of the youngest volcanoes of over 80 of them in this region! None of them are active anymore, they retired thousands of years ago.
You won’t need to do much climbing here at all. Even though it is located a little outside of the city, there is a bus you can take and it will drive you to the railway station, that will take you right up to the top.
One of the most famous sports activities there is paragliding. Roughly over $100 in cost, you will be able to ride the skies with the instructor to help you navigate directions. If you’re not much of an adrenaline junkie, then you can visit the restaurant or gift shops. Plus, there is plenty of nature to enjoy, so you might bring a picnic along with you!
Puy Pariou is also a former volcano that really has a shape of one. Being inactive for so many years (and centuries) now, nature took its course and overruled the classic volcano look. Now, Puy Pariou has the shape of a volcano that is completely covered in trees and short grass.
To reach Puy Pariou is quite tricky, as it would require you to have the strength to do a little (more) climbing and walking. You can take the same bus that drives to Puy de Dome and exit at the same station or one prior to that. After that, you will have to walk through suburbs and golf courses until you arrive at the feet of the mountain. Then comes the real challenge of climbing! Just wear good shoes and make sure you bring lots of water and some cookies in your backpack, and you’re good to go!
It’s so well worth to climb up there for many reasons, some of them being a spectacular view of the rest of the volcanos (and Puy de Dome). But the biggest one is the fact you’ll be standing on the grounds of what used to be a freakin’ volcano! Hot spitting lava volcano! And since it’s all covered in greens now, you can even walk down to the crater depth, where hot lava used to be. Pretty spectacular, right?
This is the main town square of Clermont-Ferrand. Here you have plenty of restaurants, coffee places, a big shopping mall, and streets with fast food chains.
Five-minute walk upwards from the square and you’ll reach the famous, and previously mentioned, Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral.
During summer and winter, the French decorate the main square accordingly to the season. For example, in the winter you can find a big Christmas tree standing beautifully tall, behind which you can find a giant Ferris Wheel. In the summer, they usually put jungle-like expositions.
Also, the main square features a monument of General Desaix, and a statue de Vercingétorix, which are standing tall and dominant.
As of the time of writing, you can also find Free Wi-Fi on Place de Jaude.
Cobblestone Streets & Old Part of the Town (+Restaurants)
When you head towards the Cathedral from the Place de Jaude, you will encounter numerous small cobblestone streets that have lots of shops, coffee places, and restaurants. There is even some sort of coffee/game places, where you have to play a board game.
French are lovers of fine cuisine and a relaxed environment. They love chilling at bars, drinking, and having something quick to bite.
This smaller town square is located next to the Cathedral, just a few streets above Place de Jaude. During the holiday season, you can browse through the big Christmas Market. During the rest of the year, it is just a casual town square with lots of coffee places, restaurants, and shops, with a tall, beautiful fountain standing tall in the middle of the square.
Take a stroll to the east of the Cathedral, and within a few minutes, you’ll find yourself in an oasis of peace, meaning – Jardin Lecoq.
Jardin Lecoq is a beautiful garden/park with an artificial small lake, where you’ll discover fishies, swans, and ducks have created its own habitat.
There is a cute, small restaurant right next to the lake, so you can have a nice lunch with an even nicer view.
Don’t be surprised to see people laying all over the grass, minding their own business. Or even sleeping! This is extremely typical for parks in France. People come here to relax. You’ll find them often times with a book, or a picnic basket.
This one is my personal favorite.
This grand park, full of uphills and downhills, features so many species of plants and even has the tiniest Zoo if we can call it as such. There, you can find rabbits and chickens living together and sharing space. Right next door are sheep!
This one is less visited than the Jardin Lecoq. I presume it’s partly because it is not in the city center. In fact, Parc Bargoin is located in the suburb called Royat, that doesn’t officially belong to Clermont-Ferrand. Well, at least according to Google Maps. However, I find it silly, as Royat is located just 30 minutes from Place de Jaude by foot! Not to mention the fact it is connected with city buses. For all those reasons I consider this park as a part of Clermont itself.
This is an extremely peaceful place and nature is divine. There is an adorable, tower-like building you can get to within 5 minutes from entering the park. It is not very high, but since Bargoin is on higher altitude (as is Royat itself), you can access the most adorable panoramic view of the city.
There is a small artificial pond with fishies as well. So you can lounge there and enjoy the calmness of the water and nature. Trust me when I say, it is beyond incredible. You could never tell it is as grand as it is when you see the small entrance.
This cute chateau also belongs to Royat. There are lots of legends revolving around its existence, such as that it used to be a prison!
That is just word on the street. In reality, it was built many, many years ago for different purposes. Until a few years ago, it used to be a restaurant. Now, it is a home to two music artists, that also rent rooms for seminars, family gatherings and other events you might want to have held there.
Nevertheless, it’s beautiful exterior vastly resembles a castle, which fits perfectly into the atmosphere Royat has.
Located in Royat, across Le Paradis, the Saint Leger’s Church overlooks Clermont-Ferrand. Some of the parts date back to the 10th century! It has kind of a fortified look, making it resemble a fortress of it’s kind.
I don’t think this park has an official name, so I kind of named it myself haha. This park is located right next to the Royatonic, a spa center you’ll learn more about later.
There are few small creeks running freely through this park. There is a small restaurant overlooking those creeks. The nature is beautiful and calming. Being a lover of nature, this park is a place I loved to spend my time the most.
This amazing spa-center is located under the park. It has numerous warm pools, both outside and inside. There is also a cold-water pool, with only 3°C (that’s 37°F). Plus, there is a jacuzzi, a relaxation area around steam rooms, saunas and a rest-room.
Stade nautique Pierre-de- Coubertin Swimming Pool
Whilst on the topic of water and swimming, make sure you check out Clermont’s swimming pool. Also, don’t forget to bring your swimming cap, slippers, and a towel, as you won’t be let in without those!
If you’re looking to find a spectacular view of the city, then go ahead and visit Park Montjuzet. A little outside of the city center, but well connected with buses, you can reach this park easily.
Nature is wonderful here too, and the view is just magnificent. You’ll see the Clermont’s Cathedral standing tall and proudly from here. Don’t miss it out on your trip here.
You have most likely heard about the Michelin. L’Aventure Michelin museum is not just about tires, but rather a visual show of the brand’s history and the road of the Michelin family from building a business to its success. It has a lot of interactive parts, as well as audio guides that are available in English too.
Near Puy de Dome, you can find Vulcania – an amusement park with 20 attractions helping you learn about volcanoes and our planet. It is a lot about volcanoes, earthquakes, chemistry, geology, and legends linked to them. You can explore the different galleries, experience earthquakes, and tsunami, ride a lava flow and more. Note that this is more of an educational center than a fun park.