Picardie, Amiens,Albert,Peronne, WWI

This is an area I criss cross a lot as have family in the north, Nord, dept. 59 This one is by the Somme dept 80 in the region of Picardie.  Wonderful flemish northern outlook, nice architecture, the great Jules Verne, and many memories of World War I along the Battle of the Somme(1916)  area. There is a circuit of souvenirs or rememberance linking the cities of Albert and Peronne tracing the trenches, bunkers etc of this fierce war.

There is public transport to Amiens, the biggest city in the area by far. Albert and Peronne are more difficult to get. I do it by private auto on A1 or A16 autoroutes,best parking is by the Hotel de Ville city center underground, so its very easy.  You have locally a bus system call Ametis at webpage http://www.ametis.fr/ , it can take you on Bus No 36 to Albert, and bus No 47 to Peronne.. You have direct  train from Paris gare du Nord in about 1h and TGV service in about 20 mins many on the day. To access the TER local lines and info about train service in general the region of Picardie TER service is here http://www.ter-sncf.com/Regions/Picardie/fr/Default.aspx. Therefore, if coming on public transport it will be best to go from Paris to Amiens by train and then bus to Albert and/or Peronne.

It suffers tremendously from both World Wars but especially the first one. The town of Amiens was rebuilt as did many around it like Albert,and Peronne. A webpage that covers information on this area(the pays du coquelicot)  in French is at http://www.tourisme-paysducoquelicot.com/

One of the sites to see in Amiens of course is its Cathedral Notre Dame d’Amiens at Place Notre Dame,built between 1220 – 1288, and dimensions are the biggest ever done such as 145 meters long, and 42 meters high. (478.50 ft by 138.60 ft). Maison Jules Verne, 2 rue Charles Dubois, where the great one lived from 1882 to 1900, and was a member of the local municipal team,  special webpage at http://www.amiens.fr/decouvrir/jules-verne/index_ang.asp . Musée de Picardie at 42 rue de la republique tracing the local history with paintings, tapestries, and objects. The Australian Memorial at Villiers-Bretonneux nearby town with webpage http://www.museeaustralien.com/ . In back in Amiens, north west side visit the natural park old vegetable garden of the city the Hortillonnages you go in by the little main entrance house on 54 Blvd Beauvillé in the gare or train station district, and the Eglise Saint Leu , in  a typical district of St Leu, richly decorated church.  The city tourist office is at http://www.amiens-tourisme.com/accueil

We past by here many times and not try a hotel in the area, but the always reliable ACCOR chain is good anywhere. http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/usa/index.shtml. As far as restaurant our stopping point is at Le Queen (like the singing group ::)) with summer terrace,and live music at nights right in city center near parking and Hotel de Ville, at 3 place Gambetta,no web its a local thingy!

Lets talk about Peronne, probably not on most tourist map, but a lovely town and site of a great WWI museum in a castle,call Historial de la Grande Guerre 1914-1918 or historial of the Great War. right in city center as you enter from Amiens on your right, Place Andre Audinot. There is parking right off the walls of the castle paying and free parking further on. You come here from Amiens on the D1017 or Albert on the D938 roads, and from Paris on the A1. The viamichelin route planner can help you, not much public transportation that I could find. http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/

The admission to the Historical is 7,50€ for adults, and so on, the hours are from 10h to 18h everyday. The temporary exhibitions are free, you pay for the permanent exhibition. There are five big rooms, all showing weapons, equipments, clothings and artifacts from the war, some standing, some on the walls ,some on the floor and even some hanging.  There is an educational section, and recherche.  the webpage is http://www.historial.org/ . You can eat in the wonderful cafe inside the museum down floor overlooking the stream and gardens, lovely.

In Peronne try not to missed the Musée Alfred-Danicourt, former mayor of the city who compiled an extensive collection of the city during WWI. The museum is open since 1877,its free admission, and it is at the first floor of the Hotel de Ville or mayors office of the city at Place Louis Daudré.

Nearby you can visit the memorial of Thiepval, were more than 73k British and South African soldiers are buried .As well as the Franco-Britanique memorial or memorial of the Somme. To help understand this war there is an excellent webpage in English here http://www.somme14-18.com/

We go to Albert, D938 road passing sites of the circuit de souvenirs or rememberance circuit of WWI. Fierce fighting in the Battle of the Somme 1916.  The must here is the Basilique Notre-Dame de Brebières,built 1885-1895, with a legend, the legend of the golden Virgin . This is a story from the 11C, where a sheppard guarding his sheeps saw one staying away from the herd. The sheppard call her without the sheep moving at all.  He walk over and hits her hard and he then hears back ” stop sheppard you are hurting me” . He carved the land and takes away a madonna that will become Notre Dame de Brebières. This is at next door, Musée de Somme 1914-1918 ,down to tunnels built for WWI you see actual trenches,windows showing you scenes of men, weapons, medical equipment,all that went on then and  10 meters( 33 ft)  underground and  250 meters long( 825 ft)! In English you have all the info here http://www.somme-trench-museum.co.uk/  go to about us for all schedules prices etc and then to Battlefield visits for a pictorial and information of the different stages. Wonderful place I encourage all to see it. The Hotel de Ville built in 1932 with Flemish architecture, and the train station or Gare also of great Flemish architecture and inside a small plane Potez 36 in honor of aviator Henri Potez who created a factory nearby,and still produces parts for the Airbus. If you want a light meal on the go, sandwiches , quiches, etc with drinks and very local try the Brasserie du Casino at 37 rue Jeanne d’Harcourt,just coming into the city towards the musee and basilique,city center.

A general webpage for tourism in the Somme area is http://www.visit-somme.com/ . Hope you enjoy this area, friendly laid back of the North, and lots of recent history around to learn and not repeat. Cheers

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