Clermont-Ferrand ranks among the oldest cities of France. Renowned for its thermal springs, it acquired great importance under the Roman emperors and became an Episcopal city ruled by its bishop in the Middle Ages. The counts of Auvergne decided to found the city of Montferrand just next to Clermont to counteract the power of the clergy. The two cities were eventually forced to join in 1630 by a royal edict.
Nowadays, the old city centres are still separated. The city has kept this unique historical identity embarking onto a huge transformation program that is aimed to shape its new image as a European metropolis.