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The beautiful city of Amiens is located in the northern French capital of Picardy region hidden from the madness of tourists who restrict themselves to the nearby Paris.
Amiens is famed for its grand cathedral which beats Notre dam in grandeur by miles.
How to reach Amiens
Train: The train is by far the easiest and best way to reach Amiens from Paris; travel time – 75 minutes, ticket costs – 20 Euros. Skip the super-fast train as the time difference between the regional and super-fast is only 10-15 minutes but the difference in ticket price is significant.
Getting around Amiens
All the major tourist attractions are squeezed in and around the central town, go walking in the historical city center. Alternatively, you can opt for the community bicycles to tour the town.
Amiens Top Attractions
The cathedral is most notably known for its extravagant façade, which consists of three richly decorated façade. On the façade you will see a myriad of intricately carved statues including that of prophets, Kings from Old Testament and Christ himself. There are also scenes and figures from bible such as the Twelve Apostles, virtues and the vices, and the famous last judgment,
The moment you walk inside you can’t help but be awestruck with its enormous size; the vaulted ceiling seems far away reaching for the sky.
The artwork on stained glass windows is magnificent. Check out the weeping angel on the backside of the high altar. Also, worth mentioning are the remains of John the Baptist which are kept in the crypt.
The entrance to the church is free but you can always make a small donation. If you are interested in exploring the church more intimately, to appreciate its architecture and the history, rent an audio guide for €4 from the tourist office next door, you will not be disappointed. Guided tours are also available but only in French.
If you are staying in Amiens don’t miss the light show in the evening which lits up the façade in brilliant colors bringing the statues on the portals to life. The show is accompanied with tasteful classical French music. The show starts at seven and like other good things in life is free of cost.
Musée de Picardie (Museum of Fine Arts)
A grand museum with a huge collection of arts, pre-historic artifacts and sculptures. You Can’t compare the museum with Louvre but Picardie Fine Arts museum is impressive in its own right. The building of the museum itself is a work of art, a beautiful 19th century building with second empire styled architecture.
Tip: Check the basement for artifacts from Greek, Roman and ancient Egyptian civilizations many are from the archaeological digs of the neighboring areas.
Entrance is €6, free for students!
Les Hortillonnages d’Amiens
Spread over 300+ hectares the floating gardens of Amiens date back to medieval times and are still actively cultivated. The gardens are in fact built on marshland or swamps and are very fertile. On Saturdays you can buy the produce, fruits and vegetables, at the water market located in Saint-Leu area.
Criss-crossed canals, (called rieux) with a total length of 65 meters, running through the gardens gives you a feel of Kerala backwaters.
These incredible floating gardens can only be explored on the special boats called barques à cornet run by the locals. These boats are designed to avoid any damage to the soil. The boat trip includes the guided tour.
Trivia: The word hortillons translates to gardeners.
Maison Jules Vernes
The tiny museum throws light on the life of the legendary author, Jules Verne, popularly known for his science fiction works such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the center of the earth.
Tour begins from living quarters of the writer, moves on to study and the library (10k+ books!) and then finally you climb up to the attic.
The interiors of the Jules Verne’s house are kept in its original style resembling earlier part of 20th century. The well preserved old furniture and the paintings gives you a feel of the time period in which the author lived here. The walls of the house are decorated with posters of his books.
Guided Audio tour is required to truly appreciate the history of the house. The museum is only ten minutes’ walk from the Cathedral and train station.
On the down side museum has a steep entrance fee of €8. However, the entry is free for students upto 25 years
St-Leu Old Town
St-Leu is the old town area of Amiens located very close to the cathedral. The best way to explore this tiny neighborhood is to walk around on the cobbled stone streets. Check out the small Bridges over narrow canals and brightly painted houses, which makes for a perfect backdrop for your travel pictures.
Also known among the locals as ‘The little Venice of the North’, St-Lue can get really busy in the summer evenings. St-Leu has several restaurants and cafes with a laid-back and relaxed vibe. It is advised to book ahead a table if you are looking to spend some time dining.
Happy Traveling! Hope you have great fun!