What to see and do in Amiens, France

Written by on April 23, 2014 in Picardy

Saint Leu Amiens

Often identified by the spire of France’s largest cathedral from the autoroute, Amiens deserves a detour. A day out offers history, shopping, good food and literary links.

For some, Amiens is a name on the map midway between the Channel ports and Paris. For others, it’s the first stop in ‘real’ France away from the day-tripper reputation of the far northern towns. For those in the know, it’s a gem of a town with a distinctive character and a history worth exploring.

Once the capital of Picardy and with a population of more than 130,000, Amiens suffered serious damage in both world wars and is the nearest city to the site of the first Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest engagements of WW1.

cafes in amiens

Cathédrale Notre Dame and its spire offer the most obvious landmark but the 300 hectares of waterways just north-west of the centre also help define the city.  The Saint Leu quarter, also to the north, gives a glimpse into medieval life and the city’s origins.

Our pick of ten things to do in Amiens:
  • Amiens CathedralDon’t miss the 13th century Cathedral of Our Lady of Amiens. It’s the tallest complete cathedral in France and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral contains the alleged head of John the Baptist, a relic brought from Constantinople following the Fourth Crusade. During the process of laser cleaning in the 1990s, it was discovered that the western façade of the cathedral was originally painted. Elaborate lighting techniques now project these colors directly on the façade, recreating the appearance of the 13th century original. You can see this stunning display at the Son et lumière on summer evenings
  • Stroll through the medieval Saint Leu quarter north of the cathedral, Place du Don is great in the evenings with a lively atmosphere.
  • Eat! There are lots of good restaurants in the Saint Leu area and along the Somme quayside. For those needing an ethnic fix, there are Indian and Chinese restaurants opposite Amiens station.
  • Take a boat trip through Les Hortillonnages. This cluster of market gardens set among waterways has supplied the city with vegetables since the Middle Ages.
  • Shop til’ you drop. Amiens has a good selection of both chain and specialist shops in a pedestrian area south of the cathedral.
  • Visit the Centre de Documentation Jules Vernes. The science fiction author wrote some of his most famous works at 2 rue Charles Dubois. (Amiens was also the birthplace of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, the author of Les Liaisons Dangerereuses.)
  • The Musée de Picardie has exhibits of local pre-history, art and ceramics.
  • If you have children to occupy, 250 different animals are waiting to meet you at Amiens Zoo on the Esplanade de la Hotoie and visit the puppet theatre, Chès Cabotans d’Amiens, 31 rue Edouard David, The most famous puppets are Lafleur, whose motto is “eat well, drink well and do nothing” and his long suffering fiancee Sandrine
  • Go in December for the fabulous Christmas fair, held throughout the month.

More information at www.visit-amiens.com

Related Articles

Les Hortillonnages, Amiens

Les Hortillonnages, Amiens

Written by on May 25, 2020 in Picardy

It’s not often that I’m lost for words. Some say if there was a medal for talking, I’d win gold. But, when I went to Amiens and discovered les hortillonnages, I was dumbstruck. How had I visited before and missed this incredible natural treasure of the city? Apparently many people miss it, but if you […]

Continue Reading

15 best things to do in Picardy

15 best things to do in Picardy

Written by on April 7, 2020 in Picardy

Picardy is a department in the Hauts-de-France region (formerly Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy) which borders Paris. It’s one of those places that visitors often leave off the radar, however it offers a huge variety of things to do from gorgeous beaches, captivating castles, historic cities, Champagne vineyards (yes Champagne vineyards that aren’t in Champagne!) and more… […]

Continue Reading

The Champagne vineyards of Picardy

If you thought Champagne only comes from Champagne – think again. There are Champagne vineyards in Picardy! It might surprise you to learn that the vineyards of Château-Thierry in the Aisne department of Picardy, Hauts-de-France account for a whopping 10% of AOC Champagne production… Wines and Champagne of Picardy The Aisne department is between Paris […]

Continue Reading

Guide to the Chateau de Chantilly

Though France has plenty of Chateaux that impress, wow and take your breath away – some are more special than others. The Chateau de Chantilly in Picardy, a short journey from the centre of Paris, is one of them… Potted history of the Chateau of Chantilly Castles have stood for many centuries on the site […]

Continue Reading

What to see and do in Gerberoy, Picardy

A classified “plus beaux village de France”, officially one of the prettiest villages, Gerberoy has oodles of charm. Think cobbled streets, half-timbered buildings dripping with roses and wonderful views over the lush countryside. Gerberoy is in the Oise department, Picardy, northern France, on the border of Seine-Maritime, Normandy. It’s one of the smallest towns in […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top