We’re always eager to find out about under the radar travel designations especially one’s that are relatively unknown in an already popular tourist. Enter Picardy! This under-the-radar region is often said to be one of France’s best-kept secrets. Located only one hour’s journey from Calais this little talked about but beautiful historic region stretches north from the suburbs of Paris and vineyards of Champagne to the beaches of the Bay of Somme on the English Channel. With an easily accessible location not far from Paris, Belgium or the UK and attractive countryside as well as historic towns and cities this area definitely deserves more attention. Here’s what fabulous thing to do in Picardy, France…
The varied scenery
Picardy offers a huge variety of landscapes through its three departments, The Somme, Oise and Aisne. The Somme is mostly known for its poignant and moving battlefields of the First World War and war memorials but Baie de Somme is also worth exploring. The estuary affords lovely views as tides alternately hide and expose vast expanses of sand. The surrounding bay also forms a unique habitat for all kinds of birds and marine life, including a colony of about 300 sandbank-lounging seals at Pointe du Hourdel. It’s regional capital is also known for its Gothic cathedral, the floating gardens on its canals and Jules Verne’s former home, which has now been turned into a charming museum.
Auvers-sur-Oise is also blessed with lovely landscapes and is a place associated with several famous artists, including Vincent van Gogh. Peruse round impossibly beautiful Chateux, delightful cafes and museums themed round impressionist cafes and visit the historic house where Vincent van Gogh passed away. The department of Aisne also has strong connections with the first world war with large areas ravaged during the fighting. Although many historical monuments have since been restored and this region is still full of impressive cathedrals, abbeys, pretty villages and of course plenty of gorgeous Chateux.
There’s plenty to do
Whether you’re into sightseeing or just relaxing, the region has plenty of options on offer. Picardy is home to some major historic sites including the country’s finest medieval cathedrals to fine châteaux and historic towns to the battlefields of the First World War. The main cities such as Amiens, Soissons, or Compiègne offer some important attractions in their own right and the smaller town such as Noyon, Chauny or La Ferté Milon are also worth a visit for both their character and charm. Amiens is a beautiful canal town and home to a Gothic cathedral, the floating gardens on its canals and Jules Verne’s former home, which is now a museum and should feature high on your itinerary!
Nature lovers would also be satisfied with acres of forests and natural parks waiting are perfect for walking and cycling and the bountiful supply of lakes and rivers will also be a paradise for those looking for water sports like sailing. The vineyards of Champagne make the perfect backdrop to a wine tasting tour and the Marquenterre Ornithological Park which is home to hundreds of birds will keep the twitchers happy.
It appeals to both couples and families
Picardy with its acres of tranquil landscapes and wine regions should keep the couples happy and the many parks and gardens should offer plenty of opportunities for romance. There’s also plenty to do for families. For starters there’s the famous Astérix Theme Park (Parc Astérix) is the biggest in France and has frequently been voted the best Themed park and La Ferme d’Antan is a farm 7 miles southwest of Amiens that recreats how life used to be in Picardy. There is a variety of animals as well as ancient artifacts and antiques. Samara is a life-size exhibition of prehistoric times, including dinosaurs and neolithic civilisations. Situated in the Somme valley west of Amiens, this brilliant family attraction is able to transport visitors back to thousands of years ago. Set over 30 hectares, there is an arboretum, botanical gardens and a painstakingly recreated prehistoric village.