I’ve been living in France for more than six years and I’ve traveled all over the country. From the beaches of Marseille to the Puy Dôme in Clermont Ferrand, I’ve been to some amazing places.
But one city that has a special place in my heart is Amiens, so much so that I’ve been more than once.
It may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a trip to France, so, you might be asking yourself, “Is Amiens worth visiting?”
In short, the answer is yes!
This charming city had everything I could ask for – beautiful architecture, rich history, delicious food, and friendly people.
In this post, I’ll share with you the top 17 reasons why you should add Amiens to your travel bucket list.
Is Amiens Worth Visiting?
Yes, Amiens is worth visiting!
This captivating city is part of the Haut-de-France region in northern France. It’s divided by the River Somme creating a natural environment full of history and culture.
One of the highlights is the Amiens Cathedral. Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage site but it’s also the largest cathedral in France. And, of the ones I’ve been to in France, it was the most spectacular.
Amiens also has a fascinating historical background. It was a significant battleground during both world wars and a large part of the city had to be rebuilt.
But what I loved the most was Amiens’ rich cultural heritage. In total, there are 60 monuments, and each one showcases something magnificent about this city.
There’s the Musée de Picardie, the Jules Verne House where the famous author lived for 18 years, and the Tour Perret, France’s first skyscraper.
But my favorite was the Les Hortillonnages d’Amiens.
This giant network of canals has been around since the Middle Ages, and they are full of gorgeous floating gardens. It’s like a little natural paradise hidden in the city.
Of course, I can’t talk about Amiens without mentioning the Saint-Leu district.
This charming neighborhood is full of picturesque streets and quaint cafés. Its lively atmosphere makes it the perfect place to hang out.
So, if you want to explore the less-trodden paths in France, Amiens should be at the top of your list.
17 Reasons to Visit Amiens
There are so many reasons to visit Amiens. From its historical monuments to its floating gardens, here are 17 reasons why you should.
1. Amiens Cathedral
This majestic cathedral is one of the most popular attractions in Amiens. It was built between 1220 and 1270 and it stands as the largest cathedral in France. It’s so big that its inner volume is twice that of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral.
And the fact that it only took 50 years to build is exceptionally impressive.
Helpful Tip: To put it into perspective the Strasbourg Cathedral took 300 years to build.
In 1981, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its architectural significance and remarkable preservation.
I’ve visited Amiens quite a few times and I’ve never missed a chance to stop by.
On one occasion I went at sunrise and the soft light on the church was incredible.
Of the churches I’ve visited, it was by far the most beautiful.
2. Les Hortillonnages d’Amiens
Les Hortillonnages d’Amiens is a network of canals and floating gardens right in the heart of Amiens. It’s a unique natural site that’s often referred to as the “Little Venice of the North.”
The Hortillonnages have been cultivated since the Middle Ages. And, today, this labyrinth of waterways and lush vegetation spans an impressive 300 hectares.
A large part is residential but there are still a few ways you can visit.
First, there’s an outdoor museum, Musée des Hortillonnages. It’s dedicated to the history of the gardens and their cultural significance. Every ticket comes with a guided tour that takes about 20 minutes.
Or you can take a guided boat tour.
This was by far my favorite way to explore Les Hortillonnages because I was able to see parts of the floating gardens that weren’t accessible by foot.
My guide was also incredibly knowledgeable and gave a nice overview of the area’s history and culture. He even covered the different types of flora and fauna as well as the wildlife.
It’s also a great activity to do on a Sunday if you’re in town.
Helpful Tip: Tours run from April to October and last about an hour.
3. Easy To Get To
One of the best things about Amiens is that it’s easy to get to. It’s close to Paris, Lille, and Brussels, making it a great day trip or weekend getaway.
On my first visit to Amiens, I went on a day trip from Paris. I hopped on a TER train, and it took about 90 minutes. I was able to visit the main sites and still had time to relax and enjoy a delicious lunch by the river.
On my second visit, I stayed in Amiens for a weekend trip from Lille. I took a TER train and arrived in 70 minutes.
So, if you’re in this part of France, there’s no reason not to visit.
4. Jules Verne’s House
Jules Verne, the renowned French writer who wrote “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” lived in Amiens from 1882 to 1900.
His former house has now been turned into a museum that showcases his life, work, and personal artifacts. It also features rooms filled with furniture, objects, and manuscripts that belonged to him.
As a literature lover, it was a must-visit for me. It was surreal to be in the same space where one of my favorite authors once lived and worked.
And even if you’re not familiar with Jules Verne’s work, the museum does an excellent job of introducing you to his world.
If you’ve been to France, then you know that the biggest budget constraint is accommodation. But in Amiens, you’ll find higher-end hotels that are affordable.
On one of my trips, I stayed at Hotel Le Prieuré, which is next to the cathedral.
The room was equipped with a Nespresso machine, a TV, and a desk. There was free coffee, tea, shampoo, and body soap. The towels were fluffy, and the bed was ultra-comfortable.
For such a luxurious room, I only paid €88.
Helpful Tip: I traveled to Amiens in October, which is the low season. I’m also a Level 3 Genius member with Booking.com, so I almost always get discounts on my bookings.
6. Saint-Leu District
The Saint-Leu district is, undoubtedly, the most picturesque neighborhood in Amiens.
It dates to the Middle Ages and was once home to weavers, tanners, and millers. Today, it’s a lively area with narrow streets, winding canals, colorful houses, charming cafés, and art galleries.
I loved wandering around and taking in the beautiful architecture.
My favorite streets were Rue de la Dodane, Rue des Granges, and Rue Motte.
Then, there’s Quai Bélu. Here you’ll find bars, cafés, and restaurants where you can enjoy a drink on a terrace while soaking in the view of the Amiens Cathedral.
7. Friendly Locals
The first thing I noticed when I arrived in Amiens was the warmth and friendliness of the locals.
The city was not overrun with tourists, so they were interested in chatting with me and helping me with recommendations.
From the hotel staff to shopkeepers to restaurant servers, everyone was so welcoming and helpful.
They were happy to chat and share tips about their city, making me feel right at home.
Even during my boat tour of Les Hortillonnages d’Amiens, the guide was eager to know more about where I was from and what brought me to Amiens.
It made my trip even more special and memorable.
8. It’s Very Walkable
One of the things I appreciated most about Amiens was that it’s a very walkable city.
Most major attractions are within walking distance of each other. And, if you make a wrong turn, the architecture is so beautiful, it’s worth the extra steps.
I loved strolling through the Saint-Leu district and visiting Parc Saint-Pierre on foot.
I even walked from the Amiens Cathedral to La Madeleine Cemetery. It took me about two hours, but it was peaceful and scenic the entire way.
Best of all, there was almost no congestion, and I was never engulfed in car exhaust. It made walking around that much more enjoyable.
9. La Madeleine Cemetery
La Madeleine Cemetery is an 18th-century graveyard that was established on the site of a former leper hospital.
It’s most known for being the final resting place of Jules Verne.
But that’s not all there is to see here.
The cemetery is spread across 18 hectares, with winding paths and beautiful greenery.
It’s a peaceful place to take a stroll and admire the tombstones, which look more like works of art than graves.
It was a unique and somber experience, but I enjoyed every moment.
It, actually, reminded me of the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
10. Unique Architecture
Amiens might be small but it’s full of unique buildings.
The Amiens Cathedral is the most known piece of architecture. And being the largest church in France, it gets most of the attention.
But that’s not all there is.
There’s the Saint-Leu Catholic Church. It was built in the 15th century and stands as one of the twelve oldest churches in town.
The Beffroi d’Amiens is another notable building. It dates to the 15th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Helpful Tip: If you want to visit, make sure to plan ahead. The tourist office only offers tours twice a month.
Then, there’s the Tour Perret, a 29-story residential skyscraper near Amiens’ train station.
It was part of a plan to redesign the city after much of it was destroyed during World War 2. You can’t tour the inside but it’s still worth stopping by.
During my first visit to Amiens, I stayed at Hôtel Central Anzac and had a magnificent view of the building from my room. That’s where I took the photo you see above.
11. It’s Safe
One of the best things about Amiens is that it’s a safe city. I felt comfortable walking around on my own, even at night. The crime rate is low, and the locals are amiable.
It’s the kind of city where people know one another. And as a visitor, I felt welcomed and was able to strike up a conversation with anyone.
Even though it has all the amenities of a modern city, Amiens feels like a tight-knit community where everyone looks out for each other. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the hustle and bustle of larger cities like Paris.
So, if you’re traveling solo or with your family, Amiens is definitely a safe and welcoming destination to consider.
12. Tons of Art and Culture
Amiens is also known for its rich art and cultural scene. From museums to street art, there’s no shortage of artistic expression in this city.
I loved exploring the Musée de Picardie. It houses an impressive collection of art from prehistoric times to the 19th century and the museum itself was gorgeous.
Then, if you love modern art, there’s the Maison de la Culture d’Amiens. It hosts various exhibitions showcasing contemporary artworks from local and international artists.
I also enjoyed walking around the city’s graffiti-filled streets and alleys. You’ll find impressive pieces everywhere.
Some of my favorites were at 38 Rue Dame Jeanne, 15 Rue de la Dodane, and 7 Rue du Pont À Moinet.
13. Amazing Food
Amiens is a great destination for foodies. The city has a thriving food scene with tons of restaurants.
One must-try dish in Amiens is the local specialty, ficelle picarde. It’s a savory crepe filled with ham, mushrooms, and cream sauce.
Then, there’s the flamiche. It’s a quiche-like dish made with leeks and cream cheese.
The Amiens macaron and duck pâté are also worth trying.
I found the macaron to be tastier than the ones made in Nancy or even Paris.
But if you’re looking for something different, there are also plenty of international restaurants.
14. Beautiful Parks and Gardens
While Les Hortillonnages d’Amiens are the most known green space in Amiens, there are quite a few other parks. And they are just as spectacular.
The Parc Saint-Pierre was my next favorite. Here you’ll find quiet walking paths, giant lakes, and beautiful gardens. It’s a peaceful escape right in the heart of Amiens.
Another must-visit is the Jardin des Plantes. It’s one of the oldest botanical gardens in France, showcasing a wide variety of plants and flowers.
And, since it’s slightly outside the center, you’ll most likely have the place to yourself. Pack a lunch and enjoy it in the park!
15. Historic Legacy
Amiens’ history dates to the Romans.
It became a part of France in 1185 under the rule of King Louis VI.
Fast forward to the 18th and 19th centuries and Amiens was thriving in the textile industry.
Then, during the Franco-Prussian War, the area was conquered, and Amiens was occupied by Prussian forces.
But the real damage didn’t come until the world wars.
During World War 1, Amiens served as an important rail hub and was the first line of defense for the capital. Bombings were so regular that more than 2000 buildings were destroyed.
Amiens barely recovered before the start of World War 2 where it again faced brutal bombings.
Aside from a few key historical monuments, like the Amiens Cathedral, much of the town had to be rebuilt.
And, today, you can see signs of this history, whether that’s the newly built Tour Perret or one of the three war memorials.
16. Festivals and Events
Amiens hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year.
Here is a list of the most famous ones:
✓ La Rue est à Amiens: A big arts festival that takes place every year in June. There are performances, food, and lots of fun things to do.
✓ Marché de Noël: The Christmas Market in Amiens is a festive event with food, crafts, and gifts. It’s much smaller than Strasbourg’s infamous Christmas market, but still worth visiting.
✓ Chroma: An event that takes place during the summer and in December, featuring stunning light projections on the Amiens Cathedral.
✓ International Garden Festival – Hortillonnages Amiens: An annual event that showcases the unique market gardening tradition of Amiens. Admission is free, so there’s no reason not to stop by.
17. Lots of Outdoor Activities
There’s no shortage of things to do outdoors in Amiens. From exploring the lush gardens to taking a stroll along the waterways, you’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy nature.
One popular activity is bike riding through the city or along the Somme River. There are several designated paths and scenic routes that make for a great day trip.
And the best place to rent a bike is at Buscyclette. They have a wide variety of options and it’s only €5 for the day.
For those who enjoy hiking, there are also plenty of trails in the area, including the Chemin de Halage and the Chemin de Malaquis.
Both pass through Les Hortillonnages d’Amiens.
But, of the two, I preferred Chemin de Halage. Chemin de Malaquis is more residential, and I felt like I was intruding on their living space.
Conclusion: Is Amiens Worth Visiting?
Amiens is well worth a visit for anyone who loves cultural, historical, and natural attractions.
Whether you’re a foodie or an outdoor enthusiast, there’s something for everyone here.
I loved every part of the city. The museums were fantastic, the Saint-Leu district was beautiful, and Les Hortillonnages d’Amiens were beyond incredible.
So, what are you waiting for?
Book your trip with my top recommended apps now and discover all the amazing things this city has to offer!
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