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 Puy-de-Dôme (13km from the city) is 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 world's number one International short-film festival as well as Michelin 's corporate headquarters, the famous tyre 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 (I took to arms for the liberty of all). This statue was sculpted by Frédéric Bartholdi, who also created the Statue of Liberty.
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 was 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 nearby in around 72 BC. Also, Nemossos was situated not far from the plateau of Gergovia, where Vercingetorix — some months before capitulating at Alesia — 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 phase that ended in the mid-3rd century.
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 Hasting 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.
In the 20th century, the construction of the Michelin factories and city gardens, which shaped the modern Clermont-Ferrand, definitively reunited Clermont and Montferrand. Today, although the two cities are amalgamated, one may find in Clermont-Ferrand two distinct downtowns, and Montferrand retains a strong identity.
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.
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. Fortunately, this downsizing took place gradually, allowing the city to court new investment in other industries, avoiding the fate of most post-industrial cities.
Clermont-Ferrand's most famous figure is the mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal who tested Evangelista Torricelli's hypothesis concerning the influence of gas pressure on liquid equilibrium. This is the famous 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 (see the official link below). 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 (as in Cannes visitors are not allowed in theatres, reserved to professionals). This festival has revealed many young talented directors now well-known in France and even internationally such as Mathieu Kassovitz, Cédric Klapisch or 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 one of the most important in France, which fairly justifies its nickname of "France's Liverpool". Groups such as The Elderberries were born 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.
The city is also host to a high-profile rugby union club, ASM Clermont Auvergne, as well as Clermont Foot Auvergne, a football club that will compete in France's second division, Ligue 2, during the 2007–2008 season.
Clermont-Ferrand has two famous churches :
People that have lived in Clermont-Ferrand