Amiens Tourist Attractions
Amiens, lying 130km/80mi north of Paris on the left bank of the Somme, here divided into a number of branches, is the old capital of Picardy and now the chief town of that region and of the département of Somme, the see of a bishop and a university town.
Situated at the intersection of trunk roads linking Paris with northern France, Britain, the Benelux states and Germany, Amiens is a busy town and popular tourist center, rebuilt after suffering heavy damage during the Second World War, which fortunately spared its magnificent cathedral. Amiens has long been famed for its linen, wool, cotton and jute industries.As Samarobriva ("bridge on the Somme") Amiens was the chief town of a Celtic tribe, the Ambiani, until their conquest by Caesar. Under the Romans it flourished, thanks to its situation on the Roman road to the north. The town was Christianized by St Firmin (Firminus) in the fourth century, and the existence of a bishopric is recorded in 511. In the ninth century Norman raids wrought great devastation. At the end of the 12th C the county of Amiens became subject to the French crown. As a fortified town defending the approach to Paris from the north Amiens was the scene of numerous conflicts with the house of Burgundy and later with the Spaniards. In 1802 the treaty which brought a temporary peace in the Napoleonic wars was signed in Amiens.
The hub of Amiens's life is the Place Gambetta. From here the busy main street, the Rue des Trois-Cailloux, runs east to the Gare du Nord, on the wide boulevard which follows the line of the old town walls.
In Amiens, a little way northwest of Place Gambetta is the Place Leon-Debouverie, in the center of an area which was totally destroyed during the Second World War and has now been almost completely rebuilt. In this square is the Town Hall (17th-20th C).
Amiens' Cathedral of Notre-Dame is one of the largest in France. Much of this Gothic structure was completed by 1264, although the facade was built in the 1400s and the towers were erected between the 14th and 16th C.
Musée de Picardie
A little way south of Place Gambetta in Amiens, in Rue de la République, is the Musée de Picardie, housed in a Second Empire building (1855-1867) with large murals by Puvis de Chavannes in the stair-well. It is one of the 10 largest provincial museums in France, with archeological material (prehistoric, Gallo-Roman, Egyptian and Merovingian) from the region and from the Mediterranean area, works by the Puy Notre-Dame d'Amiens, a pious confraternity (15th-16th C), works of the Flemish and Dutch schools of the 17th-19th centuries and the 18th C French school, 19th C sculpture and a small collection of modern art (Manessier, Hélion, Dubuffet, Jorn, etc.).
Address: 48 rue de la République, F-80000 Amiens, France
Opening hours: 10am-12:30pm, 2pm-6pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Remembrance Day / 1918 Armistice Day (Nov 11), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €4.00, Group of 10 or more €2.50, Child 18 & under FREE
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
To the north of the cathedra in Amiens, beyond the Late Gothic church of St-Leu (timber roof structure with carved beams), is a district traversed by numerous canals, like a miniature local Venice. On the southern edge of this area is the city's river harbor, the Port d'Aval.
Musée d'Art Local
In the Hôtel de Berry in Amiens, an elegant 1634 mansion full of period furniture, is a museum of regional history.
Behind the Amiens Hôtel de Ville is the old Bailliage, with a Renaissance facade (restored). The church of St-Germain has a 15th C doorway and a curious lopsided tower.
In Place Parmentier in Amiens there is a water market every Saturday.
Jules Verne Center
In Amiens, in the house in which Jules Verne lived for many years, visitors can see the room where he worked and wrote. He is buried in the romantic Cimetière de la Madeleine.
It is well worth taking a trip round the "Hortillonnages", a curious market-gardening region immediately east of Amiens in which fruit and vegetables are grown on land irrigated by countless little channels (rieux) carrying water from the Somme. Nowadays they are mostly used for recreation and can only be reached by water.Ten km/6mi west of Amiens is Samara, a large leisure park and exhibition complex with a variety of entertainment facilities, including "Riddles of the Past" and "Visions of the Future", an archeological trail and a botanical garden.
The industrial town of St- Quentin (pop. 59,066) lies on the right bank of the canalized Somme. Originally the Roman settlement of Augusta Veromanduorum, it takes its present name from the third C. Christian martyr St Quintinus or Quentin. The hub of the town's traffic is the Place de l'Hôtel- de- Ville, in which is a monument (1896) commemorating a Spanish victory over the French in 1557. Around the square are a number of elegant buildings - the Town Hall (begun in 1331, with a Gothic facade of 1509; carillon), the Theater and, off to the northeast, the massive collegiate church of St- Quentin (12th-15th C.), with two high transepts and a beautiful apse decorated with reliefs. Under the choir is a ninth C. crypt containing the tombs of St Quentin and his companions. To the south of the Place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville is the Museum of Entomology, with a large collection of insects, including over 600,000 butterflies and moths. North of the square is the Musée Lécuyer, which has a famous collection of 80 pastels by Quentin de la Tour (1704- 1788).The Parc Ornithologique is a large bird reserve, with many species of birds flying freely or living in large enclosures.
Festival des Cathédrales de Picardie
Festival des Cathédrales de Picardie is an annual three-week festival including seventeen concerts in the cathedrals across Picardie. The towns usually featured are Amiens, Beauvais, Noyon, Laon, Senlis and Soissons. The festival runs from mid to late September and often includes renowned performers and orchestras from around the world. The music varies, but sacred music is stressed at least to a certain degree.
Map of Amiens Attractions