Picardy, overflowing with memories, art and history
Originally from the area around Beauvais, Marie-Noëlle Blain has lived in this town since she was a girl. She has been the manager of the INTER-HOTEL CITY HÔTEL, a 3-star hotel in Beauvais, since 2000. The hotel enjoys a pleasant location in a green setting near to Beauvais airport, the water park and spa and the town's leisure centre.
Picardy, an understated region home to a rich, buried heritage.
Picardy is number two in France in terms of number of classified monuments. Just outside Paris, this region will amaze you with the quantity and richness of its historic monuments and its open spaces, which provide city dwellers with some much needed fresh air. The region's three departments, Aisne, Oise and Somme, are jam-packed with history and traces of the past.
Pioneer of gothic art
Marie-Noëlle Blain is proud of her region, not least because of its rich historic heritage. When cathedrals were first being built, the whole of Christianity wanted to build the tallest cathedral. Situated in Somme, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame d'Amiens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest and most famous in the Gothic world. It is, rather impressively, twice the size of Paris's cathedral.
Also near to the INTER HÔTEL CITY HÔTEL, in Oise, stands the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre-de-Beauvais, with its 150 foot tall vault, a world treasure of gothic art. At the foot of the cathedral, "the National Tapestry Gallery showcases an impressive collection of fabrics and the National Furniture Collection, as well as a workshop, which the public can visit to find out more about the skills of these artisans". In winter you can enjoy "the light shows on the Beauvais and Amiens cathedrals", says Marie-Noëlle Blain.
In Aisne, Laon also has a strong Medieval heritage with its Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame. Not far away, in Soissons, King Clovis marked his coming by breaking the famous Vase of Soissons.
From the War of Opposition to the Armistice
Particularly affected by the World Wars, the region bears witness to these dramatic events and has kept or constructed many memorial sites, such as the Resistance and Deportation museums in Tergnier, Aisne, many military cemeteries, and the martyr towns of Noyon in Oise and Soissons in Aisne. There are also the remains of battlefields, the most famous being the Chemin des Dames in Aisne, between Laon and Soissons. In the clearing of Rethondes, in the Compiègne forest, you can even visit a reconstruction of the wagon in which the end of World War I was made official by General Foch.
Our hotelier in Beauvais loves her region for its gentle pace and highly recommends visiting the quaint villages nearby. Gerberoy, one of the most beautiful villages in France, is famed for the architecture of its houses, mixing wattle and daub and half-timbering with brick slabs, which owes its fame in particular to the painter Henri Le Sidaner. Savignies, known for its crafts, has a pottery workshop, which continues the potter's tradition to this day. And Saint-Germer-de-Fly is home to a former Benedictine monastery founded in the 7th century by its first abbot, Saint Germer.
Great open spaces
In Picardy, farmland accounts for 70% of the region, but the region also has vast open spaces like the forests of Ermenonville, Compiègne and Chantilly, which is also home to the superb Château of the same name. In Somme, pay a visit to the 'hortillonnages' or floating gardens. Located in Amiens, these marshes interspersed with canals are the perfect place for a boat ride or a walk. Go a little further, to the Bay of Somme, and make the most of the wind, with activities including sand yachting, kite flying and speed-sailing, along the 45 miles of beach. You can even cross it on foot, between Le Crotoy and Le Tréport, or visit the Le Marquenterre Ornithological Park, which houses the bay's nature reserve.
Picardy has some great facilities, for instance the golf course, and various nature-related activities are organised, such as Nordic walking, triathlons, cycling time trials and hikes. It has one of the four routes crossing France that connect up with the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James).
Although somewhat reserved, "the Picardy region has a rich heritage combining history and nature", and the locals will be happy to guide you during your stay. So why wait? Come and discover this region just outside Paris.