10 Top Tourist Attractions in Amiens & Easy Day Trips
On the banks of the Somme River in the heart of the Picardy region, the charming town of Amiens is full of surprises. Surrounded by quiet countryside, Amiens has an unexpected energy-especially in the trendy Quartier Saint-Leu. Many of the city's top attractions spark the imagination. Watch a stunning light show that illuminates the cathedral in a rainbow of colors. Admire one of the first skyscrapers in Europe, the Tour Perret, which has a light show of its own to mark the evening hours. Delve into the creative world of Jules Verne at his house, which displays his models of flying machines and naval ships. Wander cobblestone streets in the old town, relax at a café terrace and enjoy a gourmet meal by the harbor. There are also interesting sights nearby, such as the WWI Battlefields of Somme and the Samara Amusement Park that reenacts scenes from prehistoric times.
1 Cathédrale Notre-Dame
A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, this UNESCO-listed cathedral is the largest church in France based on its total surface area of 7,700 square meters. With a length of 145 meters, the cathedral could fit a football field. The immense size and intricate details are remarkable. Built between 1220 to 1288, the cathedral was considered so impressive that it inspired the plan for a similar one in Cologne, Germany. The facade features three doorways influenced by Notre-Dame in Paris. The doorways are decorated with a profusion of statues: Old and New Testament figures, apostles, prophets, and a figure of Christ in the attitude of blessing. In the tympanum is a representation of the Last Judgment. The awe-inspiring interior reaches over 42 meters in height and has 126 pillars, an achievement of High Gothic design in its greatest perfection. The 16th-century choir stalls are embellished with carvings of more than 3,650 figures. Behind the high altar is the tomb adorned with the famous weeping angel. In the left-hand transept is a much venerated relic (of John the Baptist). During the medieval era, the cathedral's exterior was vibrantly painted, and the Cathedral in Colors light show reproduces the original medieval color scheme in all its glory.
Address: 30 Place Notre-Dame, Amiens
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Amiens - TripAdvisor.com
2 Musée de Picardie (Museum of Fine Arts)
The Musée de Picardie is considered one of the finest museums outside of Paris and was modeled on the Louvre Museum. The Picardy Museum is also one of the largest provincial museums with an extensive collection of fine arts. The museum is housed in a gorgeous Second Empire building, created between 1855 and 1867, with exquisite murals by Puvis de Chavannes. The collection brings together archaeological finds, medieval art, sculptures, and European paintings. The archeology collection includes Paleolithic and Gallo-Roman objects, as well as Egyptian, Greek, and local Merovingian antiquities. The medieval collection includes religious art from the 9th to the 16th centuries, statues from churches and rare Eucharistic objects. The sculptures collection includes stunning works from the 12th to the 16th century such as the Buste d'Anatole France by Bourdelle, while the paintings collection boasts masterpieces from the 17th to the 20th centuries by El Greco, Tiepolo, Fragonard, Courbet, and Corot among others. There are also modern and contemporary works by famous artists of the 21st century such as Picasso and Mirô.
Address: 48 Rue de la République, Amiens
3 Quartier Saint-Leu
Amiens' most trendy neighborhood, the Quartier Saint-Leu is a charming medieval quarter that is a delight to explore. The Quartier Saint-Leu extends from the cathedral to the Port d'Aval harbor on the Somme River. Tourists will enjoy wandering the jumble of narrow cobblestone lanes lined with quaint half-timbered houses, while discovering art galleries, bookshops, and boutiques. Look out for the names of the streets, which reflect the quarter's artisan past. The neighborhood can also be toured by boat or carriage. The district is traversed by picturesque canals, like a miniature Venice. A scenic riverside path lends itself to pleasant strolls. At the center of the quarter is the Eglise Saint-Leu, an interesting Late Gothic church with a timber roof. The Quartier Saint-Leu is famous for its conviviality. Be sure to stop at one of the outdoor cafés; many have terraces that offer views of Notre-Dame Cathedral. Enjoy a leisurely meal at a stylish riverside restaurant. The Quai Bélu has many dining establishments at the water's edge. On Saturday mornings, the harbor area comes to life with a "Market on the Water" that is supplied by gardeners from Les Hortillonnages.
4 Les Hortillonnages (Marsh Gardens)
Tourists will be pleasantly surprised by a visit to Les Hortillonnages, an unusual garden, which can only be accessed by boat. In the swampy areas of Amiens, between the Somme and Avre rivers, Les Hortillonnages are marsh gardens that appear to be floating in the water. The gardens have been cultivated since the Middle Ages by "hortillons" (gardeners). The area encompasses more than 300 hectares featuring unique flora and fauna, and the garden plots are interspersed with canals navigable by special boats. The boats are designed to allow berthing without damaging the banks; this type of boat has been used since the medieval era to transport vegetables to the markets. Guided visits to Les Hortillonnages are available in the afternoons from April to October. Amiens also organizes festivals at Les Hortillonnages with events such as music, circus acts, and poetry, from mid-June through mid-October.
Address: 54 Boulevard Beauvillé, Amiens
5 Maison Jules Vernes
A place that inspires the imagination, the Maison Jules Vernes is where the celebrated French novelist Jules Vernes and his wife lived from 1882 to 1900. Vernes wrote Around the World in 80 Days about the adventures of Phileas Fogg. This book is considered the most famous French novel in the world (it has been translated more often than any other French publication). The Jules Vernes House allows visitor to glean an insight into the creative genius of the author. This beautiful 19th-century mansion reveals Jules Vernes' sources of inspiration and shows where his imaginary world came to life. Vernes wrote his novel Extraordinary Voyages in a small study of this house and consulted a library of approximately 12,000 works. Visitors can see his favorite books, including works by Shakespeare, Cooper, Dickens, Walter Scott, and Edgar Poe. Also on display are models of the flying machines that were imagined by Jules Verne and which predated the invention of planes. Another room features the model boat Saint-Michel III, an English yacht of the late 19th century, and the writing desk where Jules Verne started to write his novel Twenty-Thousand Leagues under the Sea in 1869.
Address: 2 Rue Charles Dubois, Amiens
6 Cirque Municipal Jules Verne
Amiens has a tradition of circus arts, and the Cirque Municipal Jules Verne (Municipal Circus) has staged fantastic spectacles since 1889. The circus was inaugurated by Jules Verne himself. The auditorium provides seating for 3,000 people yet still offers a warm, intimate atmosphere. The program of events includes traditional circus acts as well as dance and theater. The shows are always new and exciting.
Address: Place Longueville, Amiens
7 Tour Perret
Among the most iconic sights in Amiens, the Tour Perret was one of Europe's first skyscrapers. The tower reaches more than 100 meters in height, soaring almost as high as the spire on the Cathedral Notre-Dame. Together, the modern Perret Tower and the ancient cathedral create an interesting skyline. The Perret Tower is illuminated daily after nightfall. The tower features a colorful light show that marks the hours.
Address: 13 Place Alphonse Fiquet, Amiens
8 Traditional Marionettes & Puppet Theater
Puppet shows are a beloved tradition in the Picardy region, and the 200-year-old tradition is still alive and well in Amiens. Charming marionettes are handcrafted of wood or clay and created to represent all kinds of characters. A typical puppet show features much buffoonery, designed to make audiences laugh. The shows are geared toward children, but adults also find them entertaining. The Chés Cabotans d'Amiens Théâtre de Marionnettes does a wonderful job of bringing the traditional puppets to life. This marionette theater performs amusing puppet shows such as Peter and the Wolf (in French) for children three years and older. Visitors will also find ateliers (small artisan workshops) in Amiens where local craftsmen create and sell the traditional marionettes.
9 Samara Grand Parc Naturel de la Prehistoire (Prehistory Amusement Park)
A short drive from Amiens (about 15 kilometers), tourists can leave behind the 21st century and enter the world of prehistory. This fascinating amusement park takes visitors on a 600,000-year voyage back in time, starting with the discovery of fire and continuing to the Gallo-Roman period. The 25-hectare park has 1,200 square meters of exhibitions. Each exhibit is presented in a captivating way with incredible demonstrations such as fire making, stick throwing, and flint shaping. The park allows visitors to understand our prehistoric ancestors through the discovery of their daily life. The reconstructions reveal the dawn of humanity and show the beginnings of civilization. A visit to the Samara amusement park makes for a memorable and educational excursion.
Address: La Chaussee Tirancourt, Route Saint Sauveur
10 Battlefields of Somme
For those interested in WWI history, the Battlefields of Somme are a must-see attraction. The peaceful countryside of this area was once the scene of vicious fighting during a significant battle in 1916. Further afield in the town of Albert, the Musée Somme 1916 presents the history of the war and allows visitors to learn about the brave soldiers who fought in the trenches. The museum occupies a former aircraft shelter. Somme is a four-kilometer drive from Amiens and the museum in Albert is a 30-kilometer drive.
Address: 30 Place Notre-Dame, Amiens
Day Trips from Amiens
Abbatiale Saint-Pierre de Corbie
About 17 kilometers from Amiens, the town of Corbie is worth visiting for a look at its impressive abbey church. The monumental Gothic building is distinguished by its awe-inspiring facade; its two towers soar to 55 meters in typical High Gothic style. The spacious, vaulted nave is 36 meters long and has a solemn air of spirituality. The church belonged to the Benedictine abbey of Corbie (founded in 657), a powerful order that influenced much of Europe. The church possesses many treasures including precious relics and exquisite statues.
Address: Rue Charles de Gaulle, Corbie
Jardin Floral du Château de Digeon
A classified historic monument, the Château de Digeon exemplifies Second Empire style. The château is most renowned for its gardens, and the owners take great pride in sharing their beautiful property with visitors. The lovely Rose Garden delights visitors with its perfectly aligned blossoms of different colors and varieties. The English Garden features a spacious lawn and a small arboretum of pleasant trees. There is also a vegetable garden that is artistically landscaped. In addition, the château offers a tea salon and three hotel rooms for those seeking a bed & breakfast in the countryside.
Address: 7 Route du Coq Gaulois, Hameau de Digeon
About 80 kilometers from Amiens, this picturesque town features an elegant main square, the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, lined with beautiful buildings. Saint-Quentin was an important pilgrimage destination during the Middle Ages and has a noteworthy church, the Collegiate Church of Saint-Quentin, built in the 12th-15th centuries. The church apse is decorated with intricate reliefs, and the 9th-century crypt contains the tombs of Saint Quentin and his companions. North of the main square is the Musée Antoine Lécuyer, which displays a famous collection of 80 pastels by Maurice-Quentin de la Tour and other significant works of 18th-century art.
Steeped in history, the ancient city of Lucheux is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city boasts three important monuments from the medieval era: a fortified château from the 12th to 13th centuries, a Romanesque church featuring exquisite 12th-century capitals, and a belfry that dates to the 13th century.