Apart from the large numbers of visitors the Somme attracts for memorial reasons, the Somme is now getting recognition for its natural assets.
The Bay of Somme
The Bay of Somme (Baie de Somme) is a member of the “Club of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World”, with its expanses of open water, marshes, dunes and saltwater meadows where the sea, the land and sky seem to merge.
The Bay’s exceptionally wide mouth into the English Channel offers exceptional vistas that constantly change with the tides and seasons.
Visit the Parc du Marquenterre, one of France’s major stopover sites for migrating birds, which mix with harbour seals in the Bay and the sheep on the salt marshes. At low tide you can walk over the golden sands with a guide, between the pools of seawater. The Bay of the Somme Railway offers an unusual way of exploring the Bay.
Amiens, The Amiens Region:
Drive inland to Amiens for a break that can be both cultural and festive : the Cathedral, an immense stone building, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In summer and in December, as night falls, a light show entitled “The Cathedral in Colours” brings to life the saints, apostles and other figures that decorate Notre-Dame d’Amiens Cathedral.
Other events not to be missed include the Jazz Festival in March, the Street Arts Festival in June, the giant flea-markets (réderies) in April and October and the Christmas Market in December.
The little houses of the Saint-Leu district crowd round the foot of the cathedral, right to the waterfront. Their jaunty frontages house bars, restaurants, antique shops and craft workshops that are always worth a visit.
In the heart of the city, you can take a tour in a barque à cornet around the 300 hectares of the Hortillonnages, or floating gardens. Also a must visit is in Amiens is the House of Jules Verne, who settled here.
The Upper Somme Valley
The East of the Somme department was marked by the Great War, particularly the appalling Battle of the Somme that left behind terrible scars. The memory of these events is maintained over 90 years later by memorials, museums and battle sites, which you can visit by following the Circuit of Remembrance (Circuit du Souvenir).
As it winds from its source to the Bay that bears its name, the Somme River creates a mosaic of lakes, which can be seen from several well laid-out vantage points overlooking the valley (Belvédère de Vaux, Frise or Corbie).
Take a trip on the P’tit train de la Haute Somme (The Upper Somme Valley Railway) that wanders through the valley along the banks of the Somme offering some wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.
How To Get There : By ferry via the Ports of Calais (drive time Calais – Picardy 1 hour 40 minutes), Boulogne (drive time Boulogne – Picardy 1 hour 15 minutes) and Dieppe (drive time Dieppe – Picardy 1 hour 30 minutes) :
P&O Ferries operates 23 sailings each way daily between Dover and Calais with a crossing time of one hour 30 minutes ; fares start from £30 each way for car and up to nine passengers. For £12 per person upgrade to Club and enjoy a glass of champagne, soft drinks and the day’s newspapers.
LD Lines operates four return sailings daily between Dover and Boulogne with a crossing time of one hour 45 minutes ; Spring Summer offer fares start from £29 single (any duration) for a car and two passengers and short break returns from £28 for a car and four passengers ;
LD / Transmanche Ferries operate two return sailings daily between Newhaven and Dieppe with a crossing time of four hours. Fares start from £60 for a short break return and Spring Summer offers from £49.50 each way for a car and two passengers. More information and to book : www.ldlines.com
Museum of the Great War, Peronne
Gives a better understanding of the causes, consequences and the way the conflict happened. See how daily life at the front was like and learn about the political, social, and cultural dimensions of all-out war.
The Ulster Tower in Thiepval
The Ulster Tower is a relica of a tower near Belfast, in the training camp of the 36th division which, on July 1st 1916, was caught between German and British artillery fire.
Route de St Pierre Divion
Franco-British Memorial at Thiepval
This imposing brick and stone monument designed by the Sir Edwin Lutyens, is 45m high and can be seen for miles around. It is the memorial to 73,367 missing British and South Africans who fell between July 1915 and March 1918 and have no known grave. Their names are inscribed on the 16 pillars making up the base of the monument.
The Newfoundland Memorial
Gives a moving and realistic picture of the battles through its network of original, and well-preserved trenches.
Sited on the 1st floor of the Victoria School, “a gift from the schoolchildren of Victoria to the children of Villers-Bretonneux”. This museum illustrates the role of the Austrlian troops throughout the 1st World War.
9 Rue Victoria
South African National Memorial and Museum
Erected in the heart of the Bois Delville, rechristened the Devil’s Wood, these two edifices pay homage to the South African soldiers who received their baptism of fire here. Out of the 3200 men who took part in the attack of July 15th 1915, only 132 returned unharmed 5 days later.
Somme 1916 Museum, Albert
Retraces the soldiers’ lives in the trenches during the offensive of July 1st 1916. Fifteen or so alcoves with glass cases have been installed in a 230 metre long tunnel which served as an air-raid shelter during WW2. Sound effects, pictures, and lighting plunge visitors into the day to day reality experienced by those soldiers.
Rue Anicet Godin
This impressive mine crater, 100 metres across and 30 metres deep is a relic of the series of explosions which happened on July 1st 1916. It took place here at 07:28 and marked the start of the Battle of the Somme by the British.
History and Heritage
Notre Dame Cathedral, Amiens
This enormous cathedral is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The harmony of its proportions, the purity of its lines and its abundant statuary forming a lace curtain of stone, make this one of the beautiful examples of Gothic art. For more information about visiting go to the Amiens Tourism Website.
The Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Rue
This is a magnificent example of 15th and 16th century Gothic. The chapel is noteworthy for its sculptured facade and the dropped keystones carved with exceptional virtuosity which decorate its vaults. www.ville-rue.fr
The Collegiate Church of Saint-Vulfran, Abbeville
Looking like a cathedral, this is a masterpiece of Flamboyant Gothic Art. Admire its elegant facade, the fine details of its rose window, and its matching high towers. www.ot-abbeville.fr
The Abbey of St.-Riquier and its church
The Abbey Church tells us the whole story of Gothic art: its flamboyant Gothic Facade is copiously sculptured. Today the abbey houses a departmental museum devoted to crafts and rural life in Picardy.
The Chateau of Rambures
An impressive 15th century fortress with round towers. An excellent example of the architecture of the time. Henry IV slept here on a number of occasions. www.chateaufort-rambures.com
A part of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, Folleville is UNESCO listed. The church contains noteworthy tombs of the Seigneurs de Folleville carved from Carrara marble, showing that the Italian Renaissance had by then arrived in Picardy. www.folleville.c.la
The Mediaeval Citadel of of Lucheux
Explore the three monuments that are symbolic of life as it was in France during the middle ages: the castle dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, with its exceptional machicolated arcades, and the Romanesque Church. www.doullens-tourisme.com
An 11th century fortress with Renaissance kitchens, underground passages, dungeons and prisons, and the collegiate church. http://otccoa.fr
The Mediaeval District of Eaucourt
In the heart of the mediaeval building site among the ruins of the 15th century castle, meet the builders, the mediaeval craftsmen and the men-at-arms. www.espacemedieval.com