Beautiful Amiens at summer time
Amiens is on my way to Normandie and I by pass it several times per year. Although, I didn’t really visit it until summer 2015. Now I ask myself why. Amiens is a great place to visit because of several reasons: first of all, its gothic cathedral Notre Dame d’Amiens, the biggest cathedral in France; secondly, because it is Northern Venice, a city with a wide net of channels and floating gardens; thirdly, because there is a university of Picardie and its students make the city life vivid and vibrant; and, finally, because of its location and easy accessibility: couple hours from Paris, Lille and Reims, one hour and a half from Rouen.
In July 2015 I decided to spend a full day to explore the city. Of course, if you want to visit bars and student parties or see the cathedral in colours it is better to stay overnight. That wasn’t my intention so a full day was enough. First of all I visited cathedral. It is impressive. Really. The cathedral is built of limestone blocks, and its whit colour makes huge contrast with the nearby buildings of dark brick. The facades are richly decorated with statues of holy people or royal family.
The cathedral is visible from any point in the city.
Isn’t it a nice frame for the white gothic walls?
The cathedral was totally renovated and cleaned recently. Can you imagine that only several years ago its walls were almost black, because of dust and soot covering them for centuries?
This is the main entrance, called the Beautiful God (“Du Beau Dieu” in French). The central bas-relief is dedicated to the apocalypses and the last judgement. The Hell is shown on the right while the Heaven is on the left in the first row above big statues.
A bas-relief at the bottom shows the vices and virtues, while statues above represent apostles. Can you imagine that each statue is a real human size?
The interior of the cathedral as much impressive as its exterior. Just look at this mosaic floor and the endless ceiling.
Few steps away from the cathedral there is a nice quiet garden.
Different styles, different epochs although harmony is still there.
In July 2015 Umbrellas in the Sky arrived to Amiens. The city hall decided to place them above the Gambetta place, a cozy place in a pedestrian area, surrounded by restaurants, bars and shops. I was there at lunch time so all chaise-longs were occupied by people with lunch boxes and sandwiches.
Few quarters away from the cathedral and I was lost again: was it north of France or Spain? Or Murano island?
In these tiny houses there are a lot of studios rented by students. A studio in such building is cheap due to its size, however, its location is perfect, right in a city centre.
Another popular area is on the right bank of the Somme river on Belu quay.
If the weather is good I recommend you to take a table with the river view, order a glass of wine and enjoy the view or observe by-passers, waiters and other visitors of a restaurant.
The sculpture “A man on a bouy” made by a German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol.
It is a part of a sculptural composition, which consists of “a woman in a green dress” and “a man in a red shirt”, which are placed on walls of houses on another bank of the river. This triptych represents relationship between the upper city and the down town. However local students have given another explanation: this guy in the water is a lover, who was nailed in a bedroom of a wife (“a women in a green dress”) and punished by citizens by standing in the middle of the river.
Everybody knows that students have great imagination, courage and lots of energy. Since the moment this sculpture was installed in 1993, it is always dressed by brave students in a t-shirt or something even worse.
It is time to say bye-bye to the upper town and go to the Saint-Leu quarter, the oldest quarter of the city and the ancient industrial area. Nowadays it is a lovely and beautiful quarter with modern restaurants, bars and theatres.
Very well preserved ancient houses.
I hope you liked this tour to Amiens, the Venice of Picardie region!