Clermont-Ferrand is a city of France, in the Auvergne region, with a population of approximately 140,000. It is the préfecture (capital) of the Puy-de-Dôme département. It 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 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.
|Typical view of the city from "La pierre Carrée", featuring the black cathedral on the left. |
Coat of Arms
Clermont ranks among the oldest cities of France. The first known mention was by the Greek geographer Strabo. The city was at that time called Nemessos—a Gaulish word for a sacred forest. It witnessed the famous Battle of Gergovia won by the Gauls led by Vercingetorix over the Romans led by Julius Caesar. After the Roman conquest, the city was called Augustonemetum, 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.
In 848, the city was renamed Clairmont, after the castle Clarus Mons. During this era, it was an episcopal city ruled by its bishop, and it was the starting point of the First Crusade from the Christian world to free Jerusalem from Muslim domination—Pope Urban II preached the crusade there in 1095 at the Council of Clermont. In 1120, to counteract the power of the clergy, the counts of Auvergne founded the city of Montferrand on the model of the new cities of the Midi. In 1551, Clermont became a royal city, and in 1610, the inseparable property of the Crown.
On 15 April 1630, the Edict of Troyes (the First Edict of Union) forcibly joined the two cities of Clermont and Ferrand. This union was confirmed in 1731 by Louis XV with the Second Edict of Union. At this time Montferrand was no more than a satellite city of Clermont, in which condition it remained until the beginning of the 20th century. Wishing to retain its independence, Montferrand made three demands for independence, in 1789, 1848, and 1863.
In the 20th century, the construction of the Michelin factories and city gardens which definitively reunited Clermont and Montferrand. A racing circuit close to the city, using closed-off public roads held the French Grand Prix in 1965, 1969, 1970 and 1972. It was a daunting circuit, with such harsh elevation changes that caused some drivers to be ill as they drove. Winners included Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart (twice), and Jochen Rindt.
Today, although the two cities are amalgamated, one may find in Clermont-Ferrand two distinct downtowns, and Montferrand retains a strong identity.
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).
The French tire manufacturer Michelin created the tire and grew up from Clermont-Ferrand to become a worldwide leader in its industry. It has kept its headquarters in the city.
Its most famous figure is the mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal who tested Torricelli's hypothesis concerning the influence of gas pressure on liquid equilibrium by running all the way from Clermont-Ferrand up to the Puy_de_Dôme. This is the famous experiment where a vacuum is created in a mercury tube.
Serge Godard is the current Mayor of the city.
Clermont-Ferrand hosts an annual international short film festival, which originated in 1979.