Clermont-Ferrand is the gateway to the Massif Central region, and the capital of the Auvergne has long had a strategic position in the centre of France.
Overlooked by a ring of volcanoes, Clermont-Ferrand is not that dissimilar to Northampton, with a population of 141,500 and an economy dominated by one or two large companies.
For Travis Perkins and Carlsberg read Michelin, and the tyre company has been at the heart of the city for 100 years.
Clermont-Ferrand’s most famous public square is Place de Jaude, on which stands a grand statue of Vercingetorix sculpted by Frederic Bartholdi, who also created the Statue of Liberty. One of the oldest cities in France, Clermont-Ferrand is filled with parks, gardens and history to keep you occupied throughout the weekend, along with plenty of culture and other things to do.
For more information head to www.clermontferrandtourism.com
To say that the Saints have a stiff challenge in front of them this weekend could be seen as something of an understatement. ASM Clermont Auvergne currently sit second in the Top 14 table, separated only from table-toppers Toulon by points difference. With a squad packed with international talent, Clermont’s home record is formidable and they went unbeaten for nearly 80 matches until around a year ago. In Europe they have not been beaten at home since 2008 – can the Saints keep their habit of breaking these records? We’ll have to wait until Saturday evening to find out!
Built in 1911, Stade Marcel Michelin is named after Marcel Michelin, manager of the Michelin Tyre group and founder of the Sportive Association Marcel Michelin, what we now know as Clermont Auvergne. The ground hosts all of ASM Clermont Auvergne’s home Top 14 games and has also seen several international games played at the ground, including the IRB Under 21 World Championship final in 2006.
The stadium is fully enclosed, meaning that fans are kept close to the action and noise can’t easily escape, leaving the ground with one of the best atmospheres in club rugby. You can familiarise yourself with the ground by watching a handy 360 degree view of the ground here.
There are several bars and restaurants located within walking distance of the ground.
The Stade Marcel Michelin is located 3km outside of the city centre. If you’re heading to the ground from the train station, follow the Avenue de l'Union Soviétique and turn left along Rue Niel. Continue for approximately 350 meters before turning right onto Avenue de la République. The stadium is a short walk ahead of you.
There is a tram that stops at the Stade Marcel Michelin. If you’re travelling from the city centre, the tram travelling in the direction of Champratel will take you to the ground. Tickets for the tram can be bought at each stop, but must be validated before boarding the tram.
If you’re catching a bus to the stadium, the nearest bus stop is Estaing, which is a short walk from the ground. Keep an eye out for the number 1, 17, 10M and 16 buses as they all stop at Estaing.