Amiens is a city that many people target when traveling through Northern France. The capital of the Somme department in Picardy, it lies approximately 75 miles north of Paris and 60 miles to the southwest of Lille. The main attraction in Amiens is a Gothic cathedral that is widely considered to be one of the best cathedrals in the country. Visitors also come to see the city’s river gardens and its long-running circus, among other things, and strolls along the canals can be a joy when the weather is nice.
Prior to being officially recognized as a French city by the King of France in 1113 AD, Amiens served as a rather prosperous settlement for the Gauls, was invaded on occasion by barbarian tribes, became a Roman city and was sacked twice by the Normans. After all this, it developed into a medieval textile center, which had something to do with its location along the south bank of the Somme River. In the year 1220, work on the city’s famous cathedral began. Another interesting fact about the history of Amiens is that the famous science fiction author, Jules Verne, moved there in 1871. He is buried at the city’s Cimetiere de la Madeleine on rue St. Maurice, and his Beaux Arts tomb certainly deserves a look.
Topping the list of attractions in Amiens is the city’s UNESCO World Heritage cathedral. Visiting this grand structure isn’t the only thing to do while in town, however. Tourists can also visit a mansion house that Jules Verne lived in, take in the fine collection of art and antiquities at the Musee de Picardie or check out the shops, galleries, boutiques and cafes that can be found in the city’s Quartier St-Leu neighborhood. Other major attractions in Amiens include the Municipal Circus, which is one of the world’s few remaining permanent circuses, and the "floating" river gardens that can only be reached by boat.
The Amiens Cathedral is the tallest completed cathedral in all of France. Many people would argue that it is also the best representation of French Gothic architecture, surpassing even the similar-looking Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Initial work on the Amiens Cathedral began in 1220 and was completed in 1270. Two towers that are unequal in height were subsequently added, one in 1366, and the other in 1402. Another standout feature, the large rose window, is from the 16th century. The Amiens Cathedral is open throughout the year, and visitors can enjoy free entry and access. Audioguides are available for a reasonable fee and come in a number of different languages. It is also possible to enjoy guided group tours for a fee.
There are a number of good hotels to select from in Amiens. Examples include the Mercure Amiens Cathedrale, the Campanile Amiens Centre-Gare and the Hotel Victor Hugo (pictured). Two Ibis brand hotels are available for those who appreciate the popular chain, and the Holiday Inn Express Amiens is just one more reliable chain-brand outfit. Should a bed and breakfast be the preferred Amiens lodging option, it can be a good idea to consider both the La Maison d’Euphrasie and the Maison d’hotes Le Quatorze.