Amiens, Picardy: tourism & sightseeing
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Amiens suffered greatly in both world wars, and didn't benefit from housing developments in the 1960's and 1970's. Since that time however the town has taken trouble to enhance its appeal - efforts which continue to this time, with several parts of the town now being much improved.
The town is best known for (and most visited by tourists because of) the impressive 13th century Amiens Cathedral of Notre-Dame, the largest gothic style cathedral in France. See Amiens cathedral for details. If you visit Amiens during the summer months the cathedral facade is lit to recreate the colours in which it was originally painted.
But there is more to Amiens than just a cathedral and the town itself has other highlights during a visit.
Start to explore in the Saint-Leu region below the cathedral, which is a region of canals lined with small houses and is a pleasant part of Amiens to explore, a popular place to promenade, and one of the busiest places for cafes and restaurants. It is also possible to take a boat ride along the river from here.
Other highlights in Amiens include the curious looking belfry (belltower) dating from the 13th - 15th century and one time important meeting point for the nobles of the town. The lower, square part of the belfry is original but the upper part, in baroque style, was added in the 18th century.
The Town Hall and Palais of Justice are important buildings from the 18th-19th centuries, both in the neo-classical style popular at that time. The substantial 16-sided Cirque Municipal dates from the same period.
Even more recent, the Perret Tower is an interesting example of more recent architecture in Amiens. Built around 1950 it was one of the earliest skyscrapers to be built in France, and for many years was the tallest skyscraper in Europe.
Museums, gardens and events
The Museum of Picardy, another imposing 19th century building, has some interesting archaeological items, and paintings by Old Masters, along with an extensive range of paintings and items spanning the last 2000 years. To make the most of your visit please first see our information about Amiens history.
Enthusiasts of Jules Verne will want to visit the extensive museum and collection of items relating to the life of the famous 19th century author at Maison à la Tour, his home in Amiens for almost two decades at the end of the 19th century.
There are several interesting parks and gardens in Amiens (hence the 3* Ville Fleurie award), and a substantial park (300 hectares) to enjoy at the Hortillonnages - a marshy region where numerous canals criss-cross the garden and wildlife intensive landscape. The 'floating gardens' of the Hortillonnages area can be explored by foot, or, even nicer by boat, a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. Vegetables from the Hortillonnage gardens are sold in the Saturday morning market at Place Parmentier. Once a year, in June, the market takes place on boats on the water with the traders dressed up in traditional costume.
A couple of popular festivals are also held in the town - Amiens film festival is held in November and Amiens Jazz Festival takes place each March.
Amiens is also home to one of the biggest and best Christmas markets in northern France. This is also another chance to see the light show illuminating the cathedral in its traditional colours.
Popular local dishes to try during your visit include those made from fish - typically carp, trout and Somme eels cooked with herbs; and from meat - often braised, or cooked in beer. There are also some interesting local cheeses to try such as the Maroilles, Vieux Lille and Dauphin).
Among the places of particular interest in the Amiens region are the renaissance period citadel at Doullens and the medieval city at Lucheux.
Photos of Amiens
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Map of Amiens and places to visit
Visit near Amiens with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Somme
Amiens is classified as a listed town of Art and History
Address: Amiens, Somme, Picardy, 80000, France || GPS: latitude 49.9, longitude 2.3
Plan your visit to Amiens, Picardy
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Beffroi d'Amiens (Belfries of Belgium and France): heritage site
- Le clos Alexandre: remarkable garden
- Amiens Cathedral: heritage site
- Réserve naturelle de l'Étang Saint-Ladre: site of natural beauty (7km)
- Montagne de Montenoy: site of natural beauty (23km)
- Folleville église Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur-et-Saint-Jean-Baptiste (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (25km)
- Beffroi de Doullens (Belfries of Belgium and France): heritage site (29km)
- Beffroi de Saint-Riquier (Belfries of Belgium and France): heritage site (36km)
Market days in Amiens, France
Regular market(s) are held in Amiens each Thursday & Sunday & Saturday & all day. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Amiens (Francais)