This month, plan a trip to a Picardian French town filled with history. Amiens, about an hour's train ride from Paris, is known for its UNESCO World Heritage Gothic architecture and its proximity to the Somme battlefield.
The cathedral of Notre Dame on the town's main square welcomes visitors to pray. It is the largest of the cathedrals built in the 13th century, and has arguably best endured the ravages of history, including the two world wars of the 20th century. Since the Middle Ages, farmers have worked land around Amiens that is reclaimed from marsh. Today, idyllic floating gardens border the canals in the town and the rivers Avre and Somme. These fertile lands – known locally as ‘Les hortillonages’ – have traditionally fed the townspeople and produced three harvests a year. Visitors can take a boat ride through the gardens and, if there in June, see the annual water market.
Another site worth visiting in Amiens is the Maison de Jules Verne, home of the 19th-century author. The unusual building ascends into a tower via spiral staircases, with each floor showcasing his eclectic talents – for the Law, poetry and plays – in addition to the novels for which he is best known.