Introducing, Amiens, Albert, and Péronne!!!

And getting back to my belle France, there is so much to see and do! I have as said, taken advantage of having family in the Nord dept 59 of the Hauts de France region to visit some nice towns far from me. This has been the case of these 3 which I am given life to an older post on the cities of Amiens, Albert, and Péronne. Of course on the monuments ,they have their separate posts in my blog. This will be on the now usual from me black and white series ,no pictures.

This is the case for me on the North of France, old Picardie, Somme, Pas-de-Calais, Nord departments old regions now all under the Hauts de France region.   Well, the oldest brother of my dear late wife Martine, lived around here, and much of the family on his wife’s side are all spread around. We have come visiting since 1990, and never stop,just happened the outings have been sporadic when it comes to tourism…. As often, I am reminder and now know, living and visiting are two different things. This is a vast area full of history and sadly some of WWI reminders.  I have written before on Amiens, Albert ,and Péronne as well as mentioned some of the WWI grounds and memorials around here.   

Let’s go with Amiens in the Somme dept 80 , only 115 km from Paris and easy accessable. The city is surrounded by great highways such as the A16 and A29 and very near the A1, A2, A26, and A28. An excellent train station Gare d’Amiens and 38 km from Amiens you have TGV connection with the TGV Haute Picardie station. Closest airport is Roissy CDG at only 98 km. The town gets its name from the Gaul’s of the North current Belgium name Ambiens.

A bit of history I like on Amiens:

It was an important location between the region of île de France and the Counties of Flandres and finally reunited to the French crown by king Philippe Auguste in 1185.  In January of 1264, in the Cathedral still under construction Saint Louis gives an arbitration in favor of the King of England Henri III known as the Dit d’Amiens.  In 1279 the king of France Philippe III le Hardi and king of England Edward I wrote the Treaty of Amiens that puts an end to the conflict between the Capetians and the Plantagenêt . In 1329, in the Cathedral the king of England Edward III rends hommage to the king of France Philippe de VI de Valois .  By 1358 the supporters of Charles II of Navarre including the rich of Amiens opposed the supporters of Charles V of France, son of king John II the Good prisioner of the English , not far the battles of Crécy (1346) and Azincourt (1415) were held . In 1385, Charles VI marries Isabeau de Bavaria. In 1423 the Treaty of Amiens creates the triple alliance between the Duke of Bedfort, Philippe III of Burgundy, and John V (Jean V) of Brittany to fight against king Charles VII. In 1435 by the Treaty of Arras the city of Amiens is given to Burgundy before returning it to the French crown in 1477 by way of king Louis XI.

The French revolution is relatively calm in Amiens and during the first consulat of Napoléon as well. In March 25 1802, the United Kingdom and France signed at the city/town hall the Peace of Amiens putting an end to the coalition against France.  In 1872, writer Jules Verne comes to live in Amiens, the native town of his wife, and becomes involved in the local political and public life, been elected to the municipal council on the Republican line in 1888.

Between 1914 and 1918, Amiens welcome the soldiers of the world, French, British, Australians, Newzelanders Canadians, South African, Indians etc etc. By 1916 to the east of Amiens is the site of the Battle of the Somme, one of the most bloody periods of the war with about 1,2 million victims. The collective memory preserves a deep souvenir of what is still the bloodiest event in British history. Here it is commemorated and I have participated as a thank you the places of memory of the Commonwealth in the Somme every July 1st. The ANZAC  (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps)  day is celebrated every April 25 (and I have been to a couple) here and in other towns of the department Somme 80.  In 1940, the Battle of Amiens begins and by May 20 the Ier panzer division nazis entered the city. The British army liberates the city on August 31 1944; the city comes out 60% destroyed.

Things to see in Amiens

Cathedral of  Notre-Dame d’Amiens , the biggest medieval and religious building in France (twice the size of Notre Dame of Paris) . The bell tower or Beffroi  is ,also, one of the symbols of the city mentioned for the first time in 1244 and rebuilt in 1406 on a base of white stone when before was in wood. The biggest Circus in France ,Circus Jules Verne here since the middle of the 19C exactly opened on June 23 1889 by Jules Verne replacing a circus in wood dated from 1874. The museum and house of Jules Verne (see post)  is at the angle of the rue Charles Dubois and blvd Jules Verne on a house where Jules Verne and his wife lived between 1882 and 1900. . A symbol of the reconstruction of Amiens is the Tower or Tour Perret near the train station , of which area was totally destroyed by bombings of 1944. It has a height of 110 meters and for a long time was the highest building in Western Europe, visible from several km around the city.

In the heart of Amiens you find in 300 hectares the wonderful Hortillonnages , a mosaique of floating gardens surrounded by canals, vegetables gardens of water making it the green lung of the city. Cultivated for over 2000 years it is a must to see,worth the detour just for it. The city has other parks I like such as the Parc Saint Pierre in the district of Saint Leu and not far from the above; also, the Parc du Grand Marais along the Canal of the Somme with over 25 hectares and many park sporting facilities , and the Jardin des Plantes or before the Jardin du Roy created in 1751 oldest garden in Amiens by the blvd du Jardin des Plantes street.  As far as museums well come the Musée de Picardie the first building done for housing a museum in France.  It is considered the French museum model of the 19C and aka the Petit Louvre de la Province or the little Louvre of the provinces with a rich collection in four departments Archeology, basement; Medieval arts  at street level, Fine Arts at street level and first floor (US 2nd) and Modern contemporary arts in the first floor (US 2nd).  It, also, has room for temporary expositions. The Berny  museum or Musée de l’Hôtel de Berny, dedicated to local regional history with a style architecture of Louis XIII and built in 1634 first to serve as treasury building. The native house and museum of Jules Verne where he lived from 1882 to 1900 and wrote part of this works. It allows you to come into the creative and personal life of the writer and the place is preserve with the original decoration and most of the original furniture from the street level to the attic.  A must, to see we love it.

The Amiens tourist office on things to see in English:

And I take you into Albert also in the Somme Dept 80 of Hauts de France. Albert as well in dept Somme 80 of Hauts de France.130 km from Paris but only 45 km from family base. Albert is close to the autoroute A1 connecting Paris to Lille on exit 13 and 14 as well as a train station TER on the line Rouen to Lille.

A bit of history on Albert I like

The lordship of Encre belongs to the Counts of Saint Pol and later to the House of Clermont -Nesle in the 15C finally to the family of Humiéres in the 16C; being subjects in part to the abbey of Corbie until the 13C from which it is subject to the king of France. Nevertheless there is a charter from 1090 showing in favor of the abbey of Mont Saint Quentin and subject to the Castle of Péronne. The war against  Spain continues after the treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the Grand Condé passed on the services of the king of Spain Felipe IV and attack Albert  and later burned it in 1653. The peace treaty of the Pyrénées in 1659 puts an end to 24 years of war that gives the Artois to France and Albert stop being a frontier town even if totally ruined.

During the French revolution the town is in arms and took part in the Great Fear of  1793  or the reign of terror where the heads of Duke of Chartres, Duke of Orleans, citizen Philippe Egalité, and the last lord of Albert took its toll. During this period of terror, the mayor of Albert hides the statue of Notre Dame de Brebiéres in a barrel of salt and hide it in his store. The six bells in the Church and statues were transfered to a food storage in the city hall, while the archives of the hospital and Church were burned. By the WWI of 1914-1918 Albert was the theater of great battles ; in September 1914 the Battle of Albert in the run to the sea ; 1915 was heavily bombed  that destroyed almost all the belltower of the Church was hit but the golden Virgin stayed hanging; during the battle of the Somme in july-november 1916; during the battle of Kaiser spring 1918, the city was in ruins and occupied by German troops, in 1918, General Douglas Haig launch a counter offensive in Albert by August 21st; main trust of the offensive was carried forward by the British 3rd army and joined by the 2nd corps of the United States. Albert finally felled and liberated August 22nd.  In WWII Albert is occupied again by May 20 1940 and finally liberated September 1st 1944 with the help of the local police and national police who joint the Resistance against the SS nazi; by 22h the tanks and canons of the 2nd British army entered the town to finally liberated it.

Things to see in Albert

The wonderful Basilica of Notre Dame de Brébiéres built from 1885 to 1895 in neo byzantine style, and connects to the museum of WWI;  the city hall or Hôtel de ville d’Albert in the art deco style inspired from the flemish with vast dimentions in the square or Place Émile Leturcq.  The train station or Gare d’Albert built after WWI opened in 1925, in brick on top a bell tower. In the room of lost steps there is a suspended airplane Potez 36/14 built in the factory of Méaulte near Albert. The wonderful museum of the Somme 1916 or musée Somme 1916, (see post) an old underground museum that connects to the basilica, civil defense and life in the trenches during WWI. There is a nice museum of aeronatics and industry or the musée de l’Épopée de l’Industrie et de l’Aéronautique d’Albert , located in the business park of parc d’activités André-Liné, rue de l’Industrie leaving the city in direction Amiens facing the factory of  Bétrancourt. 

The Pays du Coquelicot tourist office on the Albert Cathedral and other things to see:

And last but not least I end my line at Péronne.  The train line was closed and the TGV too far so the best way is to come by car at Peronne. The city is close to the autoroute A1 Paris-Lille, A29 –Amiens-Saint Guentin and it is on the N17. It is about 145 km from Paris taking the A1.

A bit of history I like on Péronne.

There was heavy conflict here between the king of France, Louis XI and the Duke of Burgundy Charles the Fearless head of the Burgundian State. The Péronne area was a territory that belong to the duke of Burgundy since 1418 and was part of the lands disputed between the duchy and the kingdom from 1463 to 1477.  By the treaty of Péronne in 1641, the principality of Monaco gets out of the Spanish protectorate and becomes part of the crown of France, for a month the king Louis XIII stayed in Péronne as well as Cardinal Richelieu to formalize the agreement with Honoré II Grimaldi of Monaco. By the time of the French revolution, the people elect deputies that are against the French revolution. In June 1815 after some resistance the Napoleonic troops in Péronne surrendered to  General Wellington, and a few days later king Louis XVIII and the Tzar Alexander I passes by the town on their way to Paris.   By August 28 1914, the Germans come to Péronne and the city is abandoned by September 15 after the first Battle of the Marne. They come back to occupied in September 23 and hold on until March 1917 after the German retreat on the Hindenburg line. The city is again occupied by the Germans in August 1918 and practically destroyed the city. During WWII the city is occupied for most and finally liberated in September 1 1944 by the US Army; while the city is destroyed in 36% of its buildings.

Things to see in Péronne

The wonderful gate or Porte de Bretagne with interior and exterior building done in brick and stone linking the two rectangular buildings and a bridge still there today. This gate is an extention of those built between 1647 and 1652. You can still see the Royal bastion and a serie of defenses of the 17C; in the castle you still have the ruins of three towers.  By the end of the 12C king Philippe Auguste ordered built the four towers that you see today. It is inside the Castle that house King Louis XI for the meeting with Duke Charles the Fearless of Burgundy in 1468. The Donjon was destroyed during a siege in 1536; the castle was partially destroyed during WWI and then rebuilt.

St John the Baptist Church almost totally destroyed between 1914-1918 conflict and then partially during 1944 with a flamboyant gothic façade stay up during these periods. It has a portrait of the 17C entitled La bonne mort or the good death.  The city hall dates from 1293 with an original today bell tower; rebuilt in 1509 and repaired in 1536, the façade is decorated with salamanders sculpture with the symbol of the king François I dating from 1583. It has been renovated in the 18C.  The bailiff was on the side of the city hall on the Grand Place with a Renaissance façade. The main building has a gallery on the upper level that today houses the municipal library. The façade felled in 1701 and king Louis XIV had it renovated in 1704. In his honor there is a plaque announcing Nec pluribus impar in latin meaning not unequal to many, this is in the roof, destroyed during WWI and the building rebuilt to the identical details afterward. There are cemeteries for the British and Indians soldiers of WWI.

The Alfred Danicourt museum was initially located in the city hall founded in 1872 by the mayor Alfred Danicourt that had one of the best collection of gaulles moneys, antique jewelry, merovigian funeral furniture, weapons accessories and pre historic arms as well as beautiful paintings of the region from the 19C and 20C. It was the only museum destroyed and looted during the Wars,which lost 95% of its collection. The museum was reconstituted in 1955.  The Historial de la Grande Guerre (see post) or the historical of the First World War is located next to the old medieval castle, and even taken some parts of it. It is dedicated to the story of WWI, the new extentions were built in 1992 with a nice museographic display of the war from three points of view German, French ,and British. There are white stone on the building with arrows representing the military tombs. One room is dedicated to the strong waters or eaux-fortes of painter Otto Dix. Very much a must to visit, we love it.

The Haute Somme tourist office on things to see around and in Péronne

An overall webpage to see the impact of WWI in Picardie 14-18, both in Albert and Péronne:

And there you go , a bit long ,but all worth it for these wonderful towns of history, architecture, and beauty, pleasant trip by car is best me think but you know I am the road warrior lol! Hope you enjoy the tour of Amiens, Albert and Pérone, worth the detour indeed!

And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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