Located in northern France, Amiens is the capital of Picardie region. As well as being an attraction in its own right, the city provides an excellent base for exploring nearby locations associated with the Western Front during WWI.
Amiens is situated 120km from Paris and makes for a nice road trip along the A16 via Beauvais. Several of motorways provide access to the city including the A29 from Rouen and Le Havre as well as the A29 from Reims.
The easiest and most efficient way to travel in and out of the city is on the train, with one-way tickets from Paris costing around €18 for the journey which takes just over an hour on the Corail express train. Train connections are also provided from Lille, Boulogne, Reims and Roen. The Lille-Paris TGV station is also easily reachable by bus. Regular buses run to and from the city from major centres too. For those wishing to fly, there are several major airports nearby which are connected to Amiens by train or bus including Beauvis-Tille Airport, Lille Airport and Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
Upon arrival in Amiens, take in the sights of the city on the bus network or by exploring on foot. There is also a public bike hire system handy.
Amiens was a central settlement of the Gaul tribes and part of the Roman Empire. Tradition has it that Saint Martin of Tours shared his cloak with a naked beggar at the gates of Amiens. A prosperous town, it was subject to regular attacks by numerous barbarian tribes. It wasn’t until 1185 that Amiens came under the sovereignty of the French crown. In the 18th and 19th centuries the textile manufacturing industry in Amiens became renowned for the production of velours. During this period of industrial revolution, the town was modernised, with the city walls demolished and large boulevards developed in the town centre in addition to the first railway.
During WWI, the Battle of Amiens was the opening phase of the Hundred Days Offensive which resulted in the armistice. The city fell to German occupation during WWII and was consequently partially destroyed. The post-war reconstruction was along the modernist-lines of Le Havre’s, with the extensive use of concrete throughout, likely the result of architect August Perret’s influence in the design an planning in Amiens as well.
There are several beautiful and fascinating sights for tourists to enjoy in Amiens. The World Heritage-listed Gothic cathedral dates back to the 13th century and is the largest in France. The floating market gardens, Hortillonages, which have supplied the city since the middle ages, covers over330 hectares and can be seen up close by taking a one-hour cruise from the riverside kiosk. Jules Verne House was the residence of the science-fiction author for 18 years and now houses a museum which provides a glimpse of life in Amiens during the 19th century. The city itself is also made up of several unique neighbourhoods, called quartiers, which are well worth exploring.