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Driving around Clermont-Ferrand

Home -> Europe -> France -> Travelogue France -> 09 June 2006

Friday 09 June, driving around Clermont-Ferrand

We wake up to the heat, because inside a tent it becomes fast hot in the morning. After a quiet breakfast (the bakery is on time) we go on our way. And if we should have looked better on the map yesterday. We want to visit the Lemptégy volcano and only now we see that its entrance is almost opposite the entrance to Vulcania, where we were already yesterday.
View on vulcanoes from LemptegySo we drive the same beautiful route again and the temperature rises quickly, 29 degrees in the valley and a few degrees less at heights of 1 kilometer. We are now completely in holiday mood, such beautiful weather is always very nice. At the Lemptégy volcano we go straight away for a walk, before it gets too hot. Here, too, there is a lot of information about volcanoes, especially about their diversity. We get more technical information than we can record but we understand that not all volcanoes are the same. A number of different remains can also be seen from this spot, round cones or domes and cracked craters with sometimes lakes in it.
Lemptegy vulcano has been digged offThe volcano where we are now has been excavated since 1944 for the light material that once collected in the cone. It is called Puzzolaan (a kind of tuff) and seems to be an ideal building material because it is so light and highly insulating. It is widely used in road construction and after the Second World War a large part of Rouen has been rebuilt with it.
Lemptegy vulcano Lemptegy vulcanoWe can almost walk through all of the excavation and we clearly see the different layers that have formed in the walls. Explosives were not needed here to mine the stone, the walls are so soft that they can be scooped away with an excavator. Actually we are surprised that in 60 years time, people are still not through the volcano.
After the long walk (in high season you can take a train) we take a rest out on the terrace and then we make a nice ride through the area between the volcanic peaks. Small roads, at the end before the top often very steep, lead us to the castle Tournoël near the town Volvic.
Tournoel castle Tournoel castleFrom the outside it looks like a small and compact castle, but inside it contains a lot of space. Built in the 12th century, destroyed and rebuilt, a history that so many castles have in common. The entrance fee is € 6 per adult and we receive an information sheet in Dutch (which we have to submit again at the end).
Tournoel castle Tournoel castleVia a small bridge we can go to the donjon (medieval residential tower) which is 32 meters high and a narrow spiral staircase brings us to the roof where we have a nice view of the rest of the castle and the surroundings. Within the walls of the castle is even a small garden of a few square meters, the garden of Eden.
Tournoel castleA replica shows how the castle looked around the 15th century and we must say that the restoration of recent years has been pretty successful. A beautiful castle like this can of course attract many tourists. We certainly find it worthwhile.
Volvic VolvicIn Volvic we drink a cup of coffee, in the shade because it is now very hot outside in the sun. Many buildings here (and in the area) are black, built from the dark lava stone that is extracted here. And of course a well-known brand of mineral water that is bottled here and comes from various sources in this volcanic area.
Clermond-Ferrand Clermond-FerrandThen we drive to Clermont-Ferrand, the capital of the Auvergne and especially known for Michelin, the tyre manufacturer which has his head office here. It is 29 degrees in the shade and according to a thermometer 43 in the sun. Luckily there are a lot of fountains all over the city and we can wash our hands and face from time to time. There are some children playing but otherwise it is very quiet in the city.
The Romans built a city on this spot called Nementum and Caesar was somewhere in the neighbourhood defeated in 52 BC by Vercingetorix, who had been able to unite the Gallic tribes against the Romans. Eventually they were defeated. Another historical fact that took place here was the proclamation of the first crusade in 1095 by Pope Urban II.
Cathedral Notre-Dame, Clermond-Ferrand Clermond-FerrandThe center of today's (double-)city is old Clermont where the Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Cathedral, built from black lava rock, is also located. Eventually the church was not completed until the 19th century. There is a small market in the center and now and then we see some people, dressed as medieval troubadours, but not the exuberant medieval festival that we had expected (9 to 11 June).
After a short walk through the town, we start looking for something edible. We always find it pleasant when we are on holiday to eat something small in the afternoon like a bowl of soup with some baguette, but we do not have much luck in France. Outside certain times you can not get all kinds of snacks, they are apparently convinced that lunch belongs in the early afternoon and dinner in the evening. Therefore we take some crepes (pancakes), although the waiter is surprised that we want to eat at 5 o'clock.
The car is in a parking garage and is therefore still cool when we drive outside. We are back at the campsite fairly early, where we can still enjoy the sun for a while. We have a lot of reading books with us, so we also fully enjoy our rest.


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