Towering history & riverside strolls...
Our mini road trip in western Belgium has now taken a southern detour, and we’ve headed across the border into France, to Amiens.
This little adventure has unintentionally turned into a historic trip around the First and Second World War conflict regions. As we left Ypres, we weaved our way across the open countryside via Ors (that’s a story for a later date) & arrived in Amiens.
Amiens is located on the banks of the River Somme, and although we have lost count of the number of times we have visited France we have never visited the Somme region. So, we donned our comfy shoes and went to discover.
A helpful guide
I love nothing more than planning a trip through France and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our French road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.
What did we find?
The most prominent structure in the city is Our Lady in Amiens the 13th-century cathedral. This stunning Gothic church is the largest in France, and it certainly has a presence.
As you walk in the height of the vaulted nave is incredible, it stands 138.8 feet (42.3 metres). When you walk through the cathedral you just keep looking up, it is quite amazing.
What I found unusual was all around the outside of the choir stalls were large polychrome sculptures depicting the lives of John the Baptist and St Firmin (the first bishop of Amiens). There appeared to be a recurring theme of murder and death as the story unfolded.
It’s easy to why the Saint-Leu quarter of Amiens is quite a draw, it’s a lovely area to stroll around day and night. The River Somme being the main focal point, however, follow the canals, and you’re lead through some delightful parts of the quarter.
Take a wander a couple of streets back from the quay, and the lanes are so peaceful.
Around this vicinity years, ago were tanneries & butchers. Today there are still some lovely examples of the local architecture.
However, don’t resist a stroll along the quay and soak up the chilled atmosphere amongst the restaurants, bars and cafes.
To ensure we soaked up the full French experience we thought it was best we stopped for lunch and sampled the local delicacies. Who can blame us?
The famous author Jules Verne lived in Amiens with his wife from 1857 until his death 1905.
It was in Amiens that Jules Verne wrote many of his celebrated novels, for example; Around the World in Eighty Days, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, & Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
In 1882, he & his wife moved into Maison de la Tour, which is now Jules Verne House and a museum to Jules Verne.
Roll up, Roll up
Just a short stroll from the author’s house is the Jules Verne Circus, opened in 1889 by the man himself. The 16-sided theatre regularly holds performances, along with guided tours of the wonderful venue.
Go for a wander
As we stroll further around the city, there are some lovely buildings and monuments dotted around.
The Dewailly clock is very striking, although, it is actually a replica made in 1999, as the original dating from 1892 named after the local Mayor, corroded away.
The Belfry of Amiens which is in Place au Fil dates from 13th-century and is a symbol of the City’s independence.
It stands 171 feet (52 metres) high and was once used as a prison and an arms store.
Due to the damage, it suffered during the World War II it was completely restored in the late 1980’s.
2018 commemorates the centenary of the Battle of Amiens.
Signs of its remembrance could be seen on the walls around the city.
The pictures were quite touching, and the look in their eyes conveyed even more.
Where we dined
We found a couple of lovely restaurants in Amiens, the first was Brasserie de l'horloge, where Gary couldn’t resist the steak tartare, and I succumb to their profiteroles.
However, it was at Bistrot du Boucher where we tried the local speciality of "la ficelle Picarde", which is an oven-baked crêpe filled with ham, mushrooms & cheese.
Very tasty & quite filling, although it helps with a chilled bottle of Pinot Noir.
Oh, and I may have had a chocolate fondant.
Inspired to visit Amiens
Stroll through France’s largest church, visit Jules Verne’s home. Why not stay for the evening and enjoy a chilled drink along the Quai Bélu.
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