The Somme includes three emblematic and world-famous sites: the cathedral of Amiens, the bay of the Somme (and its famous seals) and the battlefields of the First World War. These three examples perfectly illustrate the range of emotions you will experience in the department. A great idea for a weekend getaway. Or more if you like it.
Amiens, a cultural city
How not to be in admiration in front of a cathedral reputed to be the most beautiful jewel of Gothic art? Impossible to visit Amiens without passing by to admire this great lady who has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. Superb and gigantic stone building, she is enthroned in the centre of Amiens. A few figures to let you imagine the size of such a building: its spire rises 112 metres above the ground. With a total length of 145 metres, an interior volume of around 200,000 m³ and a surface area of 7,700 m², its height under the vault in the nave reaches 43 metres. A visit not to be missed!
But Amiens is also known as the city of Jules Verne. The city is proud to have welcomed the famous author on its soil. The latter came to live here in 1872. And it is in 1882 that he moved into this vast house of the middle of the 19th century, made of red bricks, where he lived for 8 years. On the ground floor there is a winter garden, a dining room where many objects that belonged to Jules Verne are displayed, as well as a large and a small living room where photos of the writer's family members are displayed. On the first floor, where the Verne's rooms were originally located, have been reconstructed the bookshop, the living room and the office of Pierre-Jules Hetzel, publisher and friend of Jules Verne. But it is on the second floor that the aura of the writer is truly palpable, especially in his study. A pencil, a penholder, which he used at the end of his life, a globe, it is there that Jules Verne wrote, among other things, "Two Years' Holiday" and "The Air Village". A unique moment. The visit ends in the attic of the house, where posters, photos or flying machines imagined by Jules Verne are accumulated
Finally, Amiens is also the Perret Tower, impossible to miss! It is to the city of Picardy what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris: an unmissable monument that scratches the sky from its tip. It is this building which welcomes you at the exit of the station. After the Second World War, the French architect Auguste Perret worked on the reconstruction of the district. And the Perret Tower was one of the first skyscrapers in Europe, but unfortunately it is no longer possible to visit it because it is inhabited. About ten years ago, it grew a few more metres, as its top was raised by six metres after a major renovation programme. The tower is now topped by a glass hourglass that spells out the hours as it passes through all the colours of the rainbow. Its body has also been enhanced by the installation of 22 spotlights on its flanks for fabulous illumination. The Perret Tower is no longer just the symbol of the city, it is now also its lighthouse. Auguste Perret, who completed it in 1953, also built the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the reconstruction of the city centre of Le Havre, classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Bay of the Somme, a sublime wild bay
In a very different register, the Bay of the Somme will also surprise you, it is one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Wild, extremely changeable over the months or in the course of a single day, it attracts seals and 300 species of migratory birds. This site can be discovered in an original way by steam train or Polynesian pirogue... To discover it, you will put your suitcases down in Saint-Valéry, a medieval city and port city at the same time. It is a member of the Club des Plus Beaux Détours de France. The maritime mood is visible at every street corner. Whether it is the restaurants, the fish shops, the fishermen's houses stuck together or the port, you can enjoy the flavours of the sea. Old stones, narrow cobbled streets, craftsmen's shops, quality restaurants, a walk along the pier, that the weather seems mild and peaceful in Saint-Valery. From the top of its ramparts, the place is ideal to discover the bay of the Somme. And what about its sunsets which flood the town with light and colour. You can also stop at Le Crotoy, this port set on a sandbank and heir to a long fishing tradition. It was, in the 17th century, one of the most important ports of the Channel. Today, the silting up of the bay has forced fishing boats to moor at Le Tréport. Fishermen's houses mingle with holiday homes. Le Crotoy had its hour of glory at the beginning of the 20th century with the perfumer Guerlain, who attracted the fashionable Tout-Paris of the Belle Époque to the banks of the Somme Bay. Painters also immortalized these landscapes, from Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec, via Seurat and Manessier.
Encountering the seals of the Bay of the Somme
Finally, how to come to the Bay of the Somme without going to say hello to its famous seals? The bay's epinal image, the seal colony is one of the largest in France. Indeed, it gathers the major part of the population of calf seals of the French coasts. It is completed by a small colony of grey seals. Throughout the year, you can see these seals at Le Crotoy, at Saint-Valery in the port, at the locks and along the quays at Cap Hornu, from the beach at Le Hourdel or on the sandbanks in the Bay of Authie. Be careful though, this is an endangered hope that you should not disturb. They can be observed all year round, although the best period is late spring and early summer
Beaches steeped in history
A few kilometres away, the Picardy beaches are under attack on sunny days. If the season does not lend itself to swimming, you should take advantage of the bicycle paths to pedal or hike along the cliffs and the Art Deco houses of Mers-les-Bains. The Somme is also long agricultural plateaux, where the infamous Battle of the Somme took place in 1916, with the appalling figure of 442,000 dead. As soon as it is possible, a visit to the Historial de la Grande Guerre de Péronne will be a must to immerse oneself in this tragedy. In short, it is clear that an escapade on the Somme promises to be full of discoveries
When? All year round. The end of winter offers romantic strolls in the bay of the Somme. Seals can be seen all year round, although the best time is late spring.
Get there. By train or by car. Amiens is about 130 km from Paris by taking the A1. To reach the bay of the Somme by car, you can take the A16 (Paris-Calais), the A28 (Rouen-Abbeville) or the A26 linked to the A29 (Reims-Calais).
Useful. To best prepare your trip.
OFFICE DE TOURISME D'AMIENS MÉTROPOLE - More information on the site
OFFICE DE TOURISME DE SAINT-VALÉRY-SUR-SOMME - More information on the website
COMITÉ RÉGIONAL DU TOURISME DES HAUTS-DE-FRANCE - More information on the site