Picardy and the Somme
Sandwiched between Paris and the Nord Pas-de-Calais region, Picardy stretches from the Channel coast just south of Boulogne towards the outskirts of Paris to the South and borders Belgium and Champagne region to the east. Being so close to the Channel Ports, this largely rural area is very popular for school trips to France.
There is much to see and do in and around Picardy. Many schools will obviously find the Somme area unmissable for its association with the First World War and we have a special feature on this elsewhere on the website. So, on this page, we will deal with the many other facets of the area.
Moving inland from the fishing villages, unspoilt beaches and cliffs of the Bay of Somme on the coast, the landscape becomes a mixture of fields, valleys and forests. It’s towns are notable for their Gothic architecture with six imposing cathedrals (Amiens, Beauvais, Laon, Senlis, Noyon and Soissons) and numerous churches and abbeys.
On the banks of the River Somme, Amiens is a charming Medieval city noted for France’s largest Gothic Cathedral – Nôtre Dame. This imposing UNESCO World Heritage Site could actually fit its Paris name-sake within itself twice over! Boat trips along the labyrinth of canals offer a different view of the attractive Saint-Leu district and are a very pleasant way of spending an afternoon.
The town of Compiegne is most widely known as the location chosen for the signing of the Armistice in November 1918, and there is plenty more to make a visit there even more worthwhile. Surrounded by the Compiegne Forest, the town features many parks and historic buildings including the Town Hall, the ramparts, the Imperial Palace as well as the poignant memorial centres reflecting on the Nazi Deportations and Internments of the Second World War.
Heading closer to the Champagne region, Chantilly is perhaps best known for its splendid Chateau, but it is also renowned for it’s lace tradition, horse-racing and the Chantilly Cream that bears its name.
Picardy’s privileged position affords easy access to Paris for schools eager to experience the French capital for a day. Other major towns such as Arras, Lille and Reims are also close by and are popular destinations.