A few historical facts
In the beginning, there were two towns: Clermont and Montferrand. King Louis XIII sealed their fate in 1630 through an Edict of Union. Clermont-Ferrand was born…
This forgotten duality has brought about the diversity found in both historical centres. Clermont was founded in Antiquity, and was a long-lived Episcopal city. Montferrand was founded in the Middle Ages by the Count of Auvergne.
The middle ages and Montferrand
During the Middle Ages, Pope Urban II chose Clermont to announce the first crusade in 1905. Two masterpieces date back to this period: the Romanesque Notre-Dame-du-Port Basilica, on the Unesco World Heritage list, and the Gothic cathedral built of Volvic stone, housing a unique collection of stained-glass windows.
In the 12th century, the counts of Auvergne founded Montferrand, a league away from the Episcopal city.
Independent until the 17th century, Montferrand had its destiny permanently linked to that of Clermont by a royal edict dated 1630.
Over the past five centuries the place has changed from a tightly-knit township huddled around the Count’s Castle to that of a city with a regular layout of streets, protected by fortified walls which have been extended many, many times. A trading city governed by a very liberal City Charter, then a legal centre, Montferrand has an exceptional heritage (Romanesque and half-timbered houses, gothic and Renaissance private mansions, Languedoc-style gothic church etc) which has earned it a major place among the sites worth visiting in Clermont-Ferrand and the Auvergne.
From the Renaissance to the 18th century
Clermont was incorporated into the Crown estate by Catherine de Medici; then, under Louis XIII, an Edict of Union linked the two towns: Clermont-Ferrand was born.
While all of the 16th century Auvergne was under the power of the King, Clermont alone remained as an estate belonging to the Bishop. Catherine de Medici seized the city and incorporated it as a Crown possession in 1551.
Royal authority decided to unite both cities. It took no less than two Royal Edicts, in 1630 and in 1731, to finally achieve this administrative union. Following the departure of the Sovereign Court, Montferrand went into a slumber for several centuries, which explains the wealth found today in its preserved sector.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that both towns established a true union into one city.
Several private mansions in Clermont and Montferrand date from the Renaissance, as well as the exceptional Amboise Fountain.
In 1623, in the shadow of the gothic Cathedral’s still Romanesque façade, brilliant thinker Blaise Pascal was born.
The 17th century witnessed the arrival of a number of conventual establishments. One can admire nowadays the façade of Church Saint-Pierre-des-Minimes on Place de Jaude, and the former Jesuit College, now the Blaise-Pascal Centre. The ceremonial room in the Hotel de Grandseigne provides a rare instance of a comprehensive décor from the 1660s.
The 18th century was a period of beautification for Clermont, through works commissioned by the Intendants of the Auvergne. Monsieur de Chazerat’s private mansion is a remarkable testimony to the Age of Enlightenment.
In The 19th century
New thoroughfares were built leading towards Place de Jaude, and the railway station district was created. This was the period when the Theatre, the Town Hall and a great many upscale buildings were erected.
Famed architect Viollet-le-Duc completed the Cathedral by adding three spans and a monumental façade on the west side topped by two spires.
In the 20th century
The growth of the Michelin manufacturing plant modified the city in a substantial way. Besides its industrial sites, Michelin built residential complexes in the 20s and 30s to host workers coming in from the countryside. The population soared, going from 50,000 in 1900 to 100,000 thirty years later, and to close to 150,000 in 1962.
Entire neighbourhoods were founded, inside which they built churches. Art Nouveau and Art Deco found their expression in buildings, storefronts or ironworks produced by the Bernardin workshops. The Sabourin Hospital-Sanatorium, a Modern Movement masterpiece, was built in 1933.
The dawning 21st century is highlighted by the urban redesigning of Place de Jaude and the “Fleur de Lave” tram’s route, not forgetting a special word for the Advanced School of Arts (École supérieure d’Art) and its high architectural quality.