Michelin and the "Michelin man" (known affectionately as Bibendum in France) is far more than just a brand of tyres. For the French people and above all for those in the Auvergne, Michelin is a constant source of pride. The success story of a multinational widely appreciated by a whole region for more than a century now.
The Michelin company is the world leader for tyres and is well-known all around the world. This company, which began by manufacturing rubber balls, has been the source of numerous inventions and smart ideas which are now all part of our day-to-day lives including removable tyres for bicycles (1891), roadmaps (1905) the radial tyre and tourist guides. It has produced a wealth of products related to cars and to the pleasures of driving.
In France, "Michelin" has also become famous for its restaurant guide, considered as a gastronomic reference, which includes its famous star rating system. The holy grail for any master chef is to obtain the maximum score of three stars. If these are difficult to obtain, they are even more difficult to hold onto from year to year. This red guide book now covers a number of European countries.
The story of Michelin is also the story of the city of Clermont-Ferrand. Life in the Auvergne's capital is closely tied to the life of the company, which has employed up to 30,000 people here. The cités Michelin (Michelin estates) are working-class districts built by the company to house its employees. The Marcel Michelin stadium, created in 1911, is the scene of the matches for the local rugby team, ASM Clermont Auvergne. As for the test ramps (which can best be described as 30 m (98 ft) high slides used to test tyres), these can still be seen today.
To trace this long and proud history, a museum was recently opened in Clermont-Ferrand: L’aventure Michelin (The Michelin Adventure). Among its collections you will find examples of all of Michelin's products since 1889, including an electric car dating from 1899 or aircraft from the First World War, etc. You can discover the various stages involved in tyre production and learn more about the history of the company's famous mascot, Bidendum, the "Michelin man".
Please note: all information panels, slide shows and games during the visit are in English, in addition to the audio guide.