The Somme département is part of the Hauts-de-France region, which was created in 2014. Its capital, Amiens, has one of the world’s most impressive cathedrals but there is much more to discover across the area. Here are our top ten reasons to visit the Somme département from peaceful nature trails to learning about the First World War in a new immersive way.
1. Admire one of the world’s most beautiful cathedrals
The Notre-Dame cathedral in Amiens is a Gothic masterpiece whose beauty has earned it a World Heritage classification. In 2020, the cathedral turned 800. It only took 70 years to build so this Gothic heritage jewel is one of the most successful and harmonious examples of the architectural style. In summer and December, an exceptional show “Chroma” is brought to life on its western façade.
2. Wander through the Hortillonnages
Amiens also houses a treasure trove of nature. In the heart of the city, stroll through 300 hectares of gardens on the water. Originally, these gardens were entirely dedicated to market gardening. Although excellent vegetables continue to be cultivated, the Hortillonnages have also become pleasure gardens for the Amiénois. Explore the natural beauty on land or by boat.
3. Cycle along the Somme River
Put on your helmet and hop on your bike to discover the Véloroute Vallée de Somme. From Ham to the mouth of the river in the estuary of the bay, enjoy the peaceful and comfortable bike path by the river. Let yourself be guided by the water and enjoy the historical and natural riches of the valley for 160 km.
4. Live 600,000 years of history
At the Samara Archaeological Park, head back in time to the Palaeolithic period, Neolithic period, Bronze Age and the time of the Celts. Habitat reconstruction helps visitors to dive deep into the lives of the people who lived many millennia ago. Craftsmen and guides introduce visitors to the cutting of flint, the beginnings of fire, the work of the blacksmith and stonecutting.
5. To pay tribute to the soldiers of the Great War
The British army was mobilised in the Somme in 1916. The first day of battle, July 1, was the bloodiest day in British history. To never forget, memorials were built by various nations involved in the conflict. The largest British war memorial is at Thiepval. At the foot of the arch, a museum and a visitor centre help you understand this period of world history.
Somme Bay and Valley are nature sanctuaries where migratory birds take a break from their journeys to regain strength. In the ornithological reserves of Marquenterre Park and Grands-Laviers, nature guides help you observe and identify birds.
7. Discover life underground
In the underground city of Naours, descend 33 metres underground and imagine the lives of men and women forced to take refuge in these chalk tunnels during wars and invasions. During the Great War, soldiers not mobilised on the front visited the tunnels and many left their mark on the city walls.
8. Test your swing on one of the most beautiful French golf courses
Belle Dune, between Quend-Plage and Fort-Mahon-Plage, hides one of the eight most beautiful golf courses in France with gorgeous sea views. This exceptional 18-hole course stretches over 30 hectares of nature, in the middle of pine trees and beach grasses. Hole no. 15 a 600m par-6 is a new challenge.
9. Learn about the Great War differently
In Villers-Bretonneux, at the foot of the Australian National Memorial, the Australian government has built a state-of-the-art visitor centre. On 400 screens, the centre mixes archive images with reconstructed images to better demonstrate the soldiers’ daily lives. A 360° room immerses the visitor in the harsh reality of combat.
10. The town of Jules Verne
Born in Nantes, the author of Around the World in Eighty Days lived for 34 years in the Amiénoise capital where he met his wife. An Aronnax trail was set up in the heart of the city to discover the places that meant a lot to him: the house with the tower in which he lived, the circus that he began, and his tomb in Madeleine Cemetery.
Find out more: http://www.somme-tourisme.com/
Lead photo credit : Sit at a cafe near the cathedral in Amiens © Shutterstock
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