The Picardy capital has seen the birth of two internationally recognised masterpieces: Around the world in 80 days and Notre Dame Cathedral. After soaking up the genius of Jules Verne's house and the largest religious building in France, you will continue your strolls in the Saint-Leu district, then in the canals that criss-cross the 2,000 gardens of the Hortillonnages... Around the Picardy capital, don't hesitate to take advantage of its small (but charming) coastline
Jules Verne's imagination is here..
Need a change of scenery? No need to take a plane ticket, go to Jules Verne's friend's house! Your mind will then take you far beyond the Picardy metropolis. In this beautiful mansion where he lived from 1882 to 1900, he found the inspiration for thirty novels, including a large majority of his Extraordinary Travels. In each play you turn the pages of the book of your life, you understand the sources of your inspirations, and you grasp the mixture of extensive documentation and brilliant imagination. In his study, books, maps, notes and pencils take you behind the scenes of his work. Seeing the globe on the desk, childhood memories come to mind. Our daydreams resurface around this famous 80-day round-the-world tour, which remains the most translated French novel in the world. And to plunge a little more into the world of Jules Verne, we enter his reconstructed boat. In his cabin is the writing room where the writer began writing Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea in 1869
If Jules Verne found his inspiration in Amiens, he was also very involved there, as a town councillor in particular. One of the footprints he left there is a magnificent circus whose construction he ardently defended, before giving the inaugural speech. This building - which today bears his name - retains a real soul. The seats are still upholstered in the famous red mohair velvet. The dome, with a wingspan of 44 metres, is majestic, colourful and adorned with an eight-pointed star. With such a decor, you are immediately in the circus atmosphere even before the artists enter. The quality of the programming is equal to this all-star ring: traditional forms and contemporary derivatives of the circus arts, young talents and international stars, all for the amazement of young and old alike... This season, women are particularly in the spotlight. For its 125th anniversary, the monument will have international visibility on 8 July with the arrival of a stage of the Tour de France at its feet: a great opportunity to remind the world that Jules Verne and Amiens are closely linked.
The Cathedral regains colour
You will also find enchantment in the cathedral. At nightfall, it regains its original pigments in summer (from June 15 to September 20) and at Christmas. You will then set your contemplative gaze on the statues of the immense façade, a veritable Bible of coloured stones, designed to be accessible to the illiterate of the Middle Ages. Past this magical play of lights already appreciated by nearly two million visitors, the majestic dimensions of Notre-Dame impress. With its 200,000 cubic metres, it is the largest in France and could easily accommodate its little Parisian sister! Its choir is high perched and has no equal in the world with its vertiginous 48.50 meters. Ranked among the greatest masterpieces of humanity by UNESCO, this cathedral is considered the archetype of the classical Gothic style. If harmony reigns there, it is attributed to the continuity and speed of the work, mastered by Robert de Luzarches and his son, in only half a century. Inside, the elegance of the lines is complemented by the brilliance of the rose designed by Leprince's master glassmakers. To finish, take a little height in the terraces of the two towers, you will observe a spire that culminates at almost 113 meters. Below, the completely refurbished forecourt will offer you a taste of Picardy's specialities while looking at Notre-Dame from a different angle.
Along the water's edge
To avoid getting a stiff neck, come down to earth and walk a short distance in the Saint-Leu district. He was once part of the wealth of Amiens, since it was there that the fabrics whose reputation crossed borders and seas were made and dyed. After having been an abandoned working-class district, Saint-Leu once again participates in the splendour of the city. Its little colourful houses stand on the waterfront, it's a kind of little Venice. You can eat peacefully on the riverside terrace with the cathedral as a backdrop. It's the favourite place for artists, walkers and festive students... the most lively place in the world!
If you liked the atmosphere at the water's edge, continue on foot to the famous Hortillonnages gardens. Surrounded by canals, there are no less than 2,000 of them in an area of thirty hectares. The classic visit consists of a guided tour of a series of superbly maintained and sometimes original gardens on specific boats with long, flat bows. From this haven of peace, you will have a view of the cathedral at the bend in the road. It thus gives the optical impression of being placed in the middle of a green setting
Heading for the coast..
After enjoying these must-see sites, don't miss the zoo and its 250 animals. Involved in the conservation of endangered species, it has found a second youth and welcomes no less than 150,000 visitors each year. More typical, puppets are a speciality to be discovered in the Saint-Leu district with Chés cabotans d'Amiens ("the actors" in Picardy)
When you leave the city, you will also easily find something to learn or change of scenery. Among the many ideas is Samara Park. From the creation of fire to the Gallo-Roman period, 600,000 years of human history are vividly recounted through exhibitions and astonishing animations. Another original visit, the Naours caves, which have had an eventful history since the Middle Ages
Finally, if you want to end your change of scenery with a breath of fresh air, remember that Picardy has a coastline. It is only 70 kilometres long but it is exceptionally diverse! In the south, cliffs and Art Deco houses like in Mers-les-Bains. To the north, long beaches suitable for sand yachting, and dunes and pines that take you far from Picardy
When? This summer to see the cathedral in colour, cheer on the Tour de France riders in front of the Cirque Jules Verne and visit the Hortillonnages gardens by boat.
Getting there. By plane, via Charles-de-Gaulle airport or Beauvais-Tillé airport, but it is really not the most convenient. By train, 1 hour from the capital or 30 min by bus from the Haute-Picardie TGV station (30 min by bus). By car, via the A16, which links Amiens to the Ile-de-France region and the North Sea ports; via the A29 between Normandy (Rouen and Le Havre) and Eastern France (Reims); via the A1, which via the section of the A29 provides an efficient link with the Paris region.
VOYAGES SNCF - More information on the site
Useful. To best prepare his escapade
OFFICE DE TOURISME D'AMIENS - More information on the site