Clarmont-Ferrand, France is in the Auvergne region of France. The area is known for volcanoes and is a gateway to Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park. About 80 dormant volcanoes are in this rural area of France.
Puy de Dôme (1,465 m or 4,806 ft) seen from Parc Montjuzel in Clermont-Ferrand.
Clermont-Ferrand is the major commercial and educational center for the region with around 140,000 residents in the city and over 400,000 people living in the metropolitan region. Forest covered hills rise high immediately to the west of Clermont-Ferrand with the volcanic peaks immediately beyond those forests. Many of the architectural features in the city were built using andesite, a volcanic rock quarried for many centuries from an area around the town of Volvic in the Auvergne region.
The Chaîne des Puys
Their distinctive shapes are easy to recognise even from very far away. They include more than 80 domes and craters which erupted here between 100,000 and 7,000 years ago, and which today form a chain spanning some 30 km. This series of volcanic peaks unique of its kind in Europe overlooks Clermont-Ferrand. Its highest point, the Puy de Dôme (1,465 m or 4,806 ft), can be reached by the Panoramique des Dômes rack railway for a panoramic view of the volcanoes.
The Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park – Auvergne Tourism
This information led me to choose Holiday Inn Clermont-Ferrand as a destination for a trip to France when the hotel came up on the August global list of hotels available as IHG PointBreaks through October 31, 2015 for 5,000 points per night. The opportunity to buy IHG Rewards points for $6 per 1,000 points has been available several times in 2015, so essentially any member can book PointBreaks hotels for around $30 per night.
Arrival to Holiday Inn Clermont-Ferrand
I flew to Clermont-Ferrand Airport on Air France from Paris Orly Airport. There is bus and train service from the airport to the city center. There were also city maps at the airport and I pocketed one before heading outside.
Signs for trains and buses showed the way across the airport parking lot about 250 meters to the road and train tracks.
I took the train for 2.00€ to the Clermont-Ferrand train station on a ride of about ten minutes.
The bus is probably the better option since you can then transfer free to another bus to reach the Holiday Inn hotel. I walked from the train station to the hotel in about 25 minutes.
Holiday Inn Clermont-Ferrand
The rooms are on the wall to the left of this side of the building, parallel to the street. The hotel is rated 3-star. There are five floors for guests with a restaurant and bar on the ground floor. At check-in I was offered a complimentary drink coupon for the bar or 500 IHG Rewards Club points. I took the points. I never went into the restaurant-bar during my stay.
The hotel has five guest floors. I was on the top floor.
The bed was comfortable. The only chair in the room was the desk chair. I spent a lot of hours in that chair, so it must have been fine. The height would slowly drop down over time and I became familiar with the lever to lift the seat back up. There was a pod coffee maker and a hot water kettle. I consumed all the coffee daily. The refrigerator was adequate to hold my store-bought groceries and beer. Wi-Fi worked great.
The TV had lots of French stations and a few English stations with BBC, Al Jazeera English and CNN International and CNBC Europe. I kept the TV on several hours during my stay and watched French language drama shows and movies. I did not follow the shows closely since I don’t comprehend French, but there was one set in St. Tropez with lots of cute women on the screen all the time and a good looking blonde guy that looked a lot like Heath Ledger.
Shower worked great.
The only other comment I have about the room is I kept the window open all the time. On my last night at the hotel, a Friday night, there was a party in an apartment across the street. I feel I vicariously had a night out with French students. The party was on a floor below me and I could not see them while working on my computer, but I got up occasionally to check out the action. There were usually about 8 to 10 people in the room, mostly young women with two couches and a table filled with boxes of wine. Sometimes there would be one person telling a story, usually a guy and everyone listening attentively. Other times nearly everybody was looking at their cell phones. Then everyone was dancing. Then the lights were off. Then people were gathered by the open window smoking.
I passed out around midnight after drinking my northern France beers, including the cork incident bottle. Their party ended around 3 or 4am.
Party house was a couple floors below the open window.
Hotel Location in Clermont-Ferrand
The location is a fine spot in the city center with tram stops within 50 meters of the hotel for convenient access to the commercial city center for shops, museums and Tourist Information about three stops away. One of the main reasons I chose Clermont-Ferrand as a PointBreaks hotel for an extended stay was due to its city center location. Many of the hotels in Europe offered as PointBreaks in the UK and France were places where a car was necessary.
Clermont-Ferrand is a university city with 35,000 students. One of the university centers is one block from the hotel. There were usually many students on the streets around the hotel.
Jardin Le Coq
Jardin Le Coq, the main city park, is across the street from Holiday Inn. The first day I was in the city was a warm, sunny day about 21C / 70F and the park was filled with people hanging out in a pleasant environment.
Holiday Inn Clermont-Ferrand was a hotel that met my needs for a a cultural immersion into a part of France without many American tourists.
Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral seen from Parc Montjuzet.
Related post: Clermont-Ferrand impressions are authentic France (Oct 1, 2015).
Streets of medieval Montferrand (Oct 3, 2015).
Other chain hotel options I saw in Clermont-Ferrand included Mercure Clermont Ferrand Centre Jaude Hotel. This 4-star hotel is in the heart of the main commercial/entertainment square of the city and would be an excellent location for a tourist.
Another hotel that intrigued me is a 5-star BEST WESTERN PREMIER Hotel Princesse Flore, Royat, near Clermont-Ferrand. I did not visit this hotel, but it sounds like an interesting option for the area. The property is a historic hotel and first 5-star hotel in Clermont-Ferrand area. The one date I can find with availability on points shows 36,000 points, the top reward rate.