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Clermont-Ferrand is located in the Puy-de-Dôme department in the Auvergne region. The inner-city population is about 142,000, whereas the greater metropolitan area holds some 460,000 people. To the west of the city there is a volcanic plateau, upon which lies the Puys chain, the largest chain of volcanoes in all of Europe. To the north lie the fertile plains of Limagne, the second largest cereal plains in France. The city acts as a sort of roundabout for many major French motorways.
Clermont-Ferrand was founded with the union of two old cities, Clairmont and Montferrand. This union was imposed by the Edict of Troyes in 1630, signed by Louis XIII and later confirmed by Louis XV. Montferrand was founded in the early 12th century by the Auvergne counts, inspired by the walled towns of the French south-west. Clairmont is much older, its existence being first mentioned in one of Strabo’s (a Greek geographer) works in the 1st century AD. At the time the city was known as Nemossos and was referred to as the “Metropolis of the Averni”. The city has a very rich history, but it is today best known for being the birthplace of the Michelin Company. In 1832, Aristide Barbier and Édouard Daubrée founded a factory which produced rubber balls and agricultural machines. This factory was the beginning of the Michelin group. In the late 1800’s Michelin began to produce the rubber breaks for bicycles, and the first patent for the bicycle tyre was written in 1891. The tyre-manufacturing giant still has its headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand to this day.