Amiens, the capital of the Picardy region of northern France, is an historic and picturesque city on the banks of the River Somme. Originally a walled Roman settlement, often ransacked and looted as a result of its prosperity, Amiens was eventually recognised as a city by the King of France in 1113.
Subsequently Amiens benefited from a lucrative textile industry, becoming renowned by the nineteenth century for its fine velour. During this century Amiens was remodelled, its enclosing walls removed and its avenues widened to accommodate the expansion of the city as new neighbourhoods emerged.
At the onset of the First World War in 1914 Amiens became a base for the British Expeditionary Force due to its proximity to the Western Front and its usefulness as a transport hub. Gaining control of Amiens was vital to the German war effort but sustained bombing, which destroyed much of the city in 1918, failed to achieve this goal.
Amiens suffered further significant damage during World War II, but extensive and sympathetic post-war restoration work and urban regeneration in recent decades has re-established the city as an exciting and rewarding destination for visitors, offering many historic buildings, beautiful green spaces and cultural attractions to enjoy and an ideal base from which to explore the battlefields and memorials of the Somme.
Catédral Notre Dame
Amiens' magnificent Gothic cathedral, the largest of its kind in France and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was completed in the thirteenth century and is notable not only for its stunning architecture but also for its stained-glass windows which bathe the cathedral's vaulted interior in multi-coloured light.
Maison de Jules Verne
The famous author of Around the World in Eighty Days lived in Amiens for eighteen years and was a city councillor for fifteen years. Verne's former house is now a museum dedicated to the author and features four floors of exhibits and memorabilia which take visitors on an entertaining and informative journey through his life and works.
Constructed from the marsh reeds that grow along the River Somme, Les Hortillonages are man-made island gardens that have been used as floating market stalls selling flowers and vegetables since medieval times.
Musee de Picardie
One of the first purpose-built museum buildings in France and dating from the mid-nineteenth century, Picardy's principal museum houses a stunning and perhaps unexpected collection of exhibits and artefacts covering themes such as Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt (including a mummy) and the Archaeology of Picardy. A gallery also contains many fine works by artists including Picasso, El Greco, Franz Hals, Francis Bacon and other notable artists.