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Under-the-radar travel destinations: Picardy France


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 secret. Located only one hour 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 makes the region so special…

The varied scenery

Poppies, CRT Picardie

Copyright CRT Picardie

Ch+¢teau Chantilly-Vincent Colin (74)

Copyright Vincent Colin


Copyright Ærophotudio.fr

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.

Vignobles de l'Aisne-NBryant

Copyright NBryant

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

Mers les Bains-NBryant (3)

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Baie de Somme-Xavier Damis

Copyright Xavier Damis

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

Famille au coucher +† Mers-NBryant

Copyright Mers-NBryant

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 opportunity 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 artefacts 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.

Fancy a stay?

Ciel Baie de Somme avec couple-comdesimages

Copyight comdesimages

With Esprit de Picardie, a selection of short breaks has been curated especially for the traveller, making the choosing easy! Their network of Local Experts (English speaking locals from Picardy) is available to answer your questions and help you organise that perfect and unforgettable French escape.

CRT Picardie offers more than just a normal travel site:

– Direct contact with a network of Local Experts to help customise your stay à Esprit de Picardie creates (together with our local accommodation and attraction providers) personalised offers responding to newly identified consumer needs.

·         A commitment to quality that ensures a high level of service to International guests

·         Lots of short break ideas within an easy drive of Calais

·         An easy, 100% instant, online booking service

If you wish to relax looking out over one of nature’s wonders, the Somme Bay, or cuddle up in a chic Chateau Hotel for a weekend or spend some time discovering the battlefields of WW1, Picardy is THE region for you, and all this starts just 1 hour from Calais. Whether you are looking for pure relaxation, a romantic getaway, a cultural escape or a family break, Esprit Picardie short break ideas give you the opportunity to live unforgettable moments:

·         Romantic escapades à la française

·         Couples Relaxing Escapes

·         14-18 Remembrance

·         Family adventures in France

·         Our Stopover selection

All Esprit Picardie escapes are designed by local brits living in the region, in partnership with the local accommodation and attraction providers and our network of English speaking Local Experts.

Esprit Picardie, for whom? For anyone looking for a new French experience which puts the focus on the customer and allows you to spend quality time with your loved ones, doing what you love. Esprit Picardie allows you to seek the opinion of other visitors who have already lived this experience and to share yours. So what is your ideal French escape? Browse the platform and start the experience! You will then receive a box via the post to immerse you in the heart of the destination Picardy. Enjoy!

Seasoned traveler, passionate writer and native New Yorker. As director of marketing & business development for evoJets, a private jet charter company based in NYC and Aspen, Rich now lives vicariously through clients and colleagues as they fly all over the world. Favorite travel destinations: Spain & Portugal, Maine and Munich. Follow Rich on Google+.


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