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Many a long year ago, when I was a poverty-stricken student, we linguists were all sent off to spend a year as English Assistants in the country of our chosen language. I chose to go to Clermont because it is in the very middle of France. I failed to realise that this meant a continental climate, with temperatures of 40° in Summer and -30° in winter. Nevertheless, it was a happy year and I met my first wife there, so I have fond memories.

I'm not sure that in those days I could afford to shop at La Ruche Trianon, but I certainly admired its 1902 exterior.

I paid a return visit to Clermont in, I think, 1988, so the few photos I have are somewhat faded. You can see them at


The bloke on the horse is Vercingetorix, who defeated the Romans at Gergovia, near Clermont, only to be squashed later at Alesia.

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