FRANCE AUVERGNE PUY DE DOME Riom Église Saint-AmableRiom (pop 18,800) lies just 15km north of Clermont Ferrand and is usually visited by daytrippers. Having been the capital of the Auvergne region up until the French Revolution, Riom’s streets are filled with a certain laidback yet stately charm- thanks to its superb Renaissance architecture, with most buildings being carved out of the local black, volcanic stone. Riom’s political importance came under the limelight again during the Second World War, as the venue for the famous Riom Trails were carried out by Marshal Pétain, leader of the Vichy France regime, in order to pin France’s defeat in 1940 on the French Third Republic leaders (particularly the JewishPrime Minister, Leon Blum). However, these trails did not proceed as planned; as several former leaders found valid rebuttals, causing the suspension of the Riom Trails in 1942. These days however, Riom masquerades as a historic highlight of the northern Massif.

The old city of Riom is bordered by rue du Commerce and rue de l’Horloge, as well as rue de l’Hôtel de Ville. You can arrive at Riom via trains that stop at avenue Virlogeux (southwest of the old city).

The highlight of Riom is the 15th century Église Notre Dame du Marthuret [rue du Commerce], as this ancient building houses two of the town’s most valued treasures- the
Vierge Noire  (Black Madonna) and the Vierge à l’Oiseau, a realistic figurine of a young Christ holding a fluttering bird. You will find a replica of the statue at the entrance where the original statue used to stand. Another notable highlight in Riom, is the Église St-Amable [rue St-Amable]. This edifice features both Romanesque and Gothic features, as well as well-painted pillars.

Riom also houses two museums that are worth checking out. The Musée Régional d’Auvergne [10 rue Delille, +33 473381731 ad/ch €3/Free] is housed in an 18th century mansion. Opened in 1969, this museum holds a 4000-piece strong collection that attempts to depict the rural lives of people in the Auvergne region. The collection holds a wide array of objects from agricultural tools to ceremonial displays of costumes, headdresses and jewellery. The Musée Francisque Mandet [14 rue de l’Hôtel, +33 473387305 ad/ch €3/Free] is also housed in a black 18th century mansion. The museum houses ancient paintings from the Flemish and Dutch schools, as well as antique objet d’arts that date up to the 18th century.