Clermont-Ferrand is one of the oldest cities in France and is formed of two towns united over the centuries – bicephalous. This is a new word for me but apparently it means it has two heads.
Below are some recommendations of things to do/see/avoid, crossed with some photo favourites from today’s wander from Clermont (Gothic/Renaissance/Medieval style) to Montferrand (fortified Medieval style) – and back.
1. It’s tourist-price but the mirrored Garden Ice Café in Place de Jaude is a nice spot to have a coffee and a bite, and people/dog watch.
2. The honey-coloured Romanesque basilica of Notre Dame du Port in Clermont is the only light and airy church I’ve seen today. Note the intricate carvings atop each of its pillars. In contrast there is a crypt-like section under the altar that is incredibly dark and spooky. Update: Wikipedia says: “In 1998 the Basilica of Notre-Dame du Port was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list as part of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France.” Should I start walking to Spain?
3. Jardin Lecoq offers impressively large trees, marble statues of naked ladies, several fountains, park playgrounds and the rare chance to photograph a dipping swan from above. Apparently there are toad sculptures worth seeing somewhere in the park but I missed them.
4. There are 40-plus fountains dotted around CF. Get the ‘Guide to the Fountains’ booklet to go on a guided tour of all of them. I saw about eight but this one in Jardin Lecoq came out best.
5. Le marché aux puces aux Salins is a flea market on Sundays 7am to 1pm. There are cheap clothes, food stalls and an extraordinary amount of oddities.
6. The Gothic Cathedral is beautiful by day but I particularly liked it in the evening – definitely a more Goth time of the day. It’s also black as it was made out of lava stone from the surrounding volcanoes. Gothtastic!
7. There are several places around Clermont where you can look down a long boulevard and, at the distant end of it, see the Puy de Dôme volcano. At 1,465m high, it is the tallest of the 80 ‘sleeping volcanoes’ in the Auvergne. This final shot was taken from the Hotel de Ville gardens, just past sunset.
8. Take the tram. 1 euro 40 buys an hour and 10 mins hop-on hop-off time and was enough to get me to Montferrand for a wander and then back to Clermont.
9. Avoid the dog sh*t
It’s here, there and everywhere.
10. Look out for the mice
11. And finally do not try to enter the Trompe L’oeuil. You WILL get hurt.