Saturday, 9 April 2016

01 - Mainly about Clermont-Ferrand

It has been quite a while when I introduced myself on this blog. I waited so long with this second post just to let you see how busy a PhD student can be! :) Well, I really hope to improve my “sit down and write a post in my blog” skills in the near future. Just time flies so fast…

I have spent already 7 months in Clermont-Ferrand, France, where I'm based during the 3 years of my PhD research. 7 months... it seems so unbelievable! When I was a professional kayaker, long time before, we had 'speed up' trainings usually in the last week before any competition. These trainings consisted of several short 'max' intervals, where you had to use for each interval all your strength and power without saving and thinking for the next ones. These intervals were generally 20-40-60 seconds, but they always seemed so much longer! At the end of the training (let's say of a training of 8 x (60'', 40'', 20'') – only 16 minutes!!), I remember, the last 20 seconds always seemed to last for a life. And now these 7 months felt just like 7 weeks, not a single day more... But what am I talking? There is nothing new or surprising in this; time is relative. :)

I decided to write today a little bit about my 'new' city and my everyday life here. Clermont-Ferrand is the 23rd biggest cityin France regarding the population and as far as I can see there are five basics, everyone should know about.
1. Michelin: Of course. The great tire manufacturer founded in 1889, exactly 100 years before I was born... Or I can say exactly in the year when Crownprince Rudolf committed suicide (Wikipedia seems very sure about this, however I'm not. And I especially disagree with the official reports that say: “their deaths were a result of Franz Joseph's demand that the couple end the relationship” ) in Mayerling hunting lodge with Baroness Mary Vetsera. I visited the Museum L'Aventure during my first month here. It was really interesting, much more than I had expected. To be honest, before I could connect only two things to Michelin: the Michelin man and the viamichelin route-planner. Let me just share with you one thing that I learned about in the museum. It is the so-called “Les PanneauxMichelin”, the route signs designed for the French roads and offered by AndréMichelin.
2. Rugby: Well, I still can't say much about it. People here are crazy about rugby, they have a really good team, they have a quite fine stadium and when there is match day, then the neighbourhood of the stadium becomes a blue-yellow parade. :)
3. Puy-de-Dome: For me it is funny, because its highest point is 1465 m while Hungary’s highest point is 1014 m :D I mean, I have seen many mountains much higher and I even visited some high peaks (mostly with skis on), but now I can take a look at this old 1465 m high volcano literally every day. Anyway, I already went up to its top in 2014, when I happened to have some vacation in the region (Massif Central), it’s really nice and definitely worth a “detour” anytime.
4. Universities: Universities and students have great impact on the city's life. It’s very visible wherever you go that there are many young people. I could count at least 4 different universities with even more campuses and I guess this is a great thing :)
5. Vercingetorix: The guy who forced Julius Ceaser to wirthdraw after the bloody battle of Gergovia in 52 BC. He has a quite impressive statue at Jaude, which is the main square of centre. This statue is the work of Frédéric Bartholdy, whose name may sound familiar to you because his most famous work has become the symbol of New York or perhaps even of US. However you should also know about the Lion of Belfort, which is a very special piece of art and had huge impact on me. :)
+1. I almost forgot to mention the city’s no. 1 pride: Blaise Pascal.Well, he is Pascal, what can I say more? :)

I live in Montferrand for now, which used to be an independent town, but now part of Clermont-Ferrand. Nevertheless I really like the “small town” atmosphere that my surroundings still has. My office is in Cournon-d'Auvergne, which is a bit south of Clermont, but fortunately can be reached by the local public transport. Most of my life I have lived in the downtown of Budapest and so never really felt the need of a car; at least not for everyday usage! But here things are different... I am the only one in the office who doesn't have a car, and in the evenings when I go home the bus sometimes becomes my private taxi, which doesn't even have to stop in the bus stops. :) Not to mention that the last bus leaves at 6:50 pm… By the way, this is the view from 'my' bus stop.

So this is all for today. Next time, I promise to write also about my research topic ;) 

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