Amiens – French Gothic Grandeur
Located about 75 miles from Paris, on the bank of the Somme, Amiens is a busy city and a very popular tourist attraction in France. It is the capital of the Somme department in the Picardy region (there are 27 regions in France), and a very welcoming university town. World War I brought heavy damage upon the city, but it was successfully rebuilt proving its resilience and keeping its values.
The most notable attraction here is the majestic Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens, more famously known as simply the Amiens Cathedral. Built between 1220 and 1270, it has been an official UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. The reasons for that are quite obvious from a first glance, as the beauty and grandeur of the building are overwhelming.You should also know that this is the tallest complete cathedral in the country, and it also boast the largest interior volume in the whole of France: approximately 260,000 cubic yards.
Amiens Cathedral overlooks the city from a ridge, flaunting its amazing 13th century Gothic sculptures in the main façade. They impress both in quantity and in quality, and so do the polychrome sculptures inside, which date even further back in history.
If you are a fan of Jules Verne, then you mustn’t miss the beautifully preserved house in which he lived for many years. The famous author spent 18 years of his life in Amiens, 15 of which he was a member of the town council. The Jules Verne House – a turreted building – was carefully renovated, but its original 19th century charm was not affected. Visitors can still admire vintage interiors and also numerous works, such as posters, prints, models and other items inspired by the writer’s fictional adventures.
History enthusiasts will definitely enjoy the Musée de Picardie. Even though most exhibits ‘talk’ about regional history, there are some areas of the museum which show fascinating antiques from Greece and Egypt. Children will definitely love to see the mummy and other relics of the past. This is one of the finest museums in France, with remarkable objects of art, some local, others foreign, but all remarkable.
A truly unique experience that tourists can enjoy in this city is a tour among the famous Floating Gardens (Hortillonnages). Situated in the heart of the city, the 300 hectares of market gardens are crossed by small canals. It’s no wonder that people associate this scenery with Venice – you will too! The flower and vegetable gardens have been supplying the town with fresh produce since the Middle Ages, and they are an irresistible attraction for tourists today. You can take a 12-person boat and float among the islets in a relaxing one-hour cruise.
- Another interesting thing to do in Amiens is discover the Battlefields Experience provided by British ex-military Jackie and Rod Bedford.
- Luxe hotels to stay at: Hotel Novotel Amiens Est and Hotel Mercure Amiens Cathedrale.