Clermont-Ferrand ranks amongst the oldest cities of France, it is a city with more than 2,000 years of history. Right after we checked in at the hotel we decided to pay the city center a visit and were amazed by the beauty of the city and the square Place de la Victoire (Victory Square) in particular. The compact town of Clermont-Ferrand is easy to get around, and the ideal place to explore on foot. Clermont-Ferrand is France, and yet it is a culture unto itself. It was the an important city during the ancient Roman Empire and its legacy of monuments can be admired in the streets to this day. Historical buildings to stroll around include the Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, numerous churches, an Obélisque, the Cimentiére de Bourg (cemetery), and a beautiful park like the Jardin Lecoq. The city of Clemront-Ferrand reveals delights at every turn. Time to explore it!
We can honestly state that the best way to explore Clermont-Ferrand is by foot and the second best way is also by foot! Besides giving you the opportunity to roam the narrow streets and the cozy squares, it is the quickest way too. If you really want to, you can cross the city in approximately 40 minutes. Remember that sometimes it might be quicker (and nicer!) to take a few short-cuts into picturesque alleys instead of following the masses of tourists. Maybe this is easy for us to say as we stayed for a longer period of time and not like most of the tourists only for one day. But even when your stay is rather short, do try to get away from the crowds and just have a 'look around'. Clermont-Ferrand is simply a perfect place to walk for a few hours and pretending to know where you are.
Most people try to rush Clermont-Ferrand on a budget so they end up missing some of the highlights in a whirlwind. The key to seeing Clermont-Ferrand properly is a game plan, you must know what you want to see before setting out. Before we visited Clermont-Ferrand we saw on a city map that the large town of Clermont-Ferrand is divided into three areas - the historical old town of Centre Ancien, the area around the largest square Place de Jaude and the more residential area in the new part of the town. We visited the city once and we hiked our way through two of the areas.
Our hikes were in the Centre Ancien where the city is one huge ancient site in which we could walk for several hours. It was quite strenuous sometimes, but definitely worth while! For example we started at Avenue Colonel Gaspard where we parked the car for free, made our way to Rue Ballainvillers and finally hiked way into the old town and it ended at the Place de la Victoire at the other side of the city centre. While most tour guides don't recommend getting lost in the alley's, this part of Clermont-Ferrand is the place to get hopelessly lost for half a day. We wondered off through mysterious and steep alleyways leading us away from the crowds. We ended up at the Rue Savaron (beautiful facades, so do look up!) and the
Presbytère de la Cathédrale, mazes of hilly backstreets and deserted gardens. The real Clermont-Ferrand?
Take time to meander - losing yourself in the maze of alleys, streets and lanes is one of Clermont-Ferrand old town's principal pleasures. The streets wind and wander with no discernible order or object. After our stroll we rewarded ourselves with a cool glass of beer or wine for our effort! We learned that you won't do justice to the entire city of Clermont-Ferrand whenever you won't visit other parts than just the main sights. So ... do meander, because the cluster of sights around the main squares are truly beautiful, but the more secret pleasures of the hushed backstreets are just entrancing.
There are truly more than enough vibrant cultural scenes to see, like the off the beaten path Obélisque de Clermont-Ferrand way back at the Avenue Vercingétorix and for example the Ecole dés Beaux Arts at the back of the Rue Ballainvilliers. Via the pavement along the Rue Neuvre des Carmes, with its beautiful facades, we ended up at this cosy little square, Place Hippolyte Reboux, which is a joy to stay with its terraces. For us it lead to a fast food place for a quick kebab, where we could also get great views at the square itself. All this may seem very though as finding your way in Clermont-Ferrand might be difficult, but in really distances are short and the signs will help you in getting around. Enjoy!
There is this place called Zapatak and I have never had so much fun playing. You just get a group of friends together (you can either play each other or another group.) and chase each other with laser guns through an obstacle course.
Equipment: Make sure to wear something lightweight because you will work up a sweat and wear dark colors so you can hide better.