- Population: 1,308,878
- Pop.density (people per km2): 50
Auvergne is one of the least populated regions in Europe, let alone France. The département of Cantal would be almost completely depopulated if it wasn't for the town Aurillac (36,096).
Three principal communes
Clermont-Ferrand is almost encircled by wooded and grassy volcanoes. The town centre is built on top of a long extinct volcano, with the old city's main thoroughfare sloping and pedestrianised. It's reputation as the ville noire is not because of the industrial pollution but because of the volcanic rock used in its construction. As mentioned above, the town is home of the Michelin tyre. In the 1980s, when the industry went into decline, the workforce was halved and many of those who lost their jobs were Portuguese immigrants brought in to supplement the workforce. These Portuguese immigrants are now well-integrated into the community. Many young people (34,000) are attracted to university life in Clermont-Ferrand but unlike other cities they do not tend to stay following their education.
The ancient town of Montlucon has a museum which houses a fine collection of hurdy-gurdies, although I'm not too sure what else the town has to offer!
Vichy, with its faded fin-de-siècle charm and grandeur, is one of the largest and most famous spa towns. It became very fashionable following visits from Napoleon III in the 1860s, but since July 1940 has been known throughout the world as the capital of Pétain's collaborationist government. The spas attract many elderly people, although attempts are now being made to rejuvenate the town by appealing to the new fitness-conscious younger generation.