Amiens: A City of History, Art, and Culture

We spent a week in Amiens during our cathedral pilgrimage. Since our trip focused on cathedrals, religious sites, and French history, Amiens gave us a lot of bang for the buck. Of course, the Cathedral drew us here, but it was marvelous exploring the city, too.

Our narrow purpose necessarily kept us from experiencing many of Amiens’ virtues, including its culinary offerings. We wanted to grocery shop like the locals and save money, so we didn’t eat out. Also, we didn’t visit any military battlefields or cemeteries, even though arguably that is a central feature of this region. Perhaps on another visit, we can give the attention those sites deserve, which would undoubtedly humble and inspire us.

One of the reasons we took this particular trip was because we realized how little we knew about the Christian heritage in France. I don’t remember learning about the great Gothic cathedrals in school. Even today, one can get the idea that France was and always has been a secular nation known only as the birthplace of the Enlightenment. Perhaps this says more about my public school education than anything else; however, despite the controversy, France’s Christian history is profound, and Gothic churches densely populate the country, for which I am grateful.

Peter the Hermit, a Roman Catholic priest of Amiens in the 12th century.

Like most of the principal cities of France, Amiens has a Christian heritage going back to antiquity. We stayed in the Saint-Leu quarter, which, along with the eponymous 15th-century church located there, was named after a 7th-century bishop. As the “Venice of the North,” the district is full of canals, quaint half-timbered houses, boutique shops, and inviting restaurants. And the Cathedral is always looming just over the rooftops.

15th-century Church of Saint-Leu. “It has three naves. A flamboyant portal adorns the base of the steeple. The latter, struck by lightning, had to be rebuilt at the beginning of the 16th century. The ends of beams are carved. Stone and wood statues date from the 17th-century.” Wikipedia

We spent a whole day roaming the city’s center, visiting the Picardie Museum, Jules Verne’s house, and monuments. That’s when we met several residents who helped us navigate the city. Their hospitality and kindness left a significant impression on us.

Francis Tattegrain: The Mourners of Etaples
The “House with the Tower” – 19th century mansion where Jules Verne lived from 1882 to 1900.
Jules Verne monument

We loved exploring Amiens, but naturally, the Cathedral was the highlight of our stay.

Index of blog posts for our Cathedral Pilgrimage