Enjoy a fun-filled day out in… Amiens
PUBLISHED: 12:54 08 October 2015 | UPDATED: 12:27 07 January 2016
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A day trip to the capital of Picardy offers plenty of things to see and do, as FRANCE MAGAZINE discovers
Straddling the Somme River, the city of Amiens is a fascinating blend of old and new with plenty to keep visitors of all ages entertained. Just 90 minutes from the port of Calais, the city is the perfect place for a day trip to France with its Gothic cathedral, the Maison Jules Verne - dedicated to the legendary writer who spent a large part of his life in the city - and close proximity to the WW1 memorials.
The city does not disappoint when it comes to keeping the family – in particular the little ones – entertained. For a taste of adventure there is the impressive Maison Jules Verne, the former home of the writer who penned such classic novels such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea and Around The World in Eighty Days. Venture inside and let your little ones loose in the imaginary world of Jules Verne with models, posters and other items inspired by Verne’s rich imagination awaiting them in every room. The highlight is a visit to the attic with its old trunks packed full of games, puppets and old treasures that they will simply love to get their hands on.
For those with an even greater appetite for adventure the Parc Zoologique d’Amiens is an excellent choice. Traverse the Earth’s great continents as you wander past over 300 different animals including elephants, red pandas, zebras, wallabies and antelopes. End your visit on a high with the elephant feeding experience, one which youngsters will be talking about for days afterwards.
Amiens is not just a playground for children. The pretty city centre district of Saint-Leu, characterised by a network of canals interspersed with narrow streets and colourful houses, is perfect for couples looking to take a romantic stroll. Wander through the paved streets here which today are brimming with art galleries, bookshops, boutiques and cute little restaurants. Located in this same district is the city’s star attraction, the UNESCO-listed Notre-Dame d’Amiens cathedral which dates back to the 13th century. The building is definitely worth a visit, not least for its beautiful displays of sculptures on its main façade, and measuring 145m long and 42m high it is one of the largest Gothic buildings in the world. Time your visit for the early evening and you might even get to see the free light show which bathes the cathedral façade in a vivid set of medieval colours.
The city also abounds in green spaces, some of which were created when the city was rebuilt following extensive bombing at the end of World War One. Among the many parks and gardens worth exploring are Les Hortillonages, the city’s very own floating market gardens set along a series of waterways. Hop on board one of the 12-person boats and enjoy a leisurely cruise as you pass the seven working farms which have provided the city with vegetables and flowers since medieval times. For a green oasis right in the heart of the city the Parc Saint-Pierre is a wonderful place to spend some time. Set over 22 hectares, the contemporary landscaped park features walking trails, games and plenty of space to relax and unwind.
A day out in this city would be incomplete without a visit to the Musée Picardie. One of the largest and most impressive museums in France, you’ll find collections stretching from prehistoric times until the 19th century with highlights including French sculptures from the 17th to 19th century and Gothic art masterpieces taken from Amiens cathedral.
If you find yourself with some time left over, then Amiens is very well placed for a quick visit to the World War One battlefields, with the Thiepval Memorial located just 42km east of the city.
For more information on where to stay and what to visit, see www.visit-amiens.com
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is the quickest way to the continent by car. Book early and get the best fares to explore Amiens. Visit www.eurotunnel.com or call 0870 850 8133 to book your crossing.