City Breaks

The Eurotunnel Le Shuttle guide to Amiens

Home to everything from canals to cathedrals, floating gardens to the home of Jules Verne, discover the best Amiens has to offer.

Less than two hours from Lille and Paris, Amiens offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy some of France’s most famous and unusual attractions.

The Notre-Dame cathedral is striking, as are the Picardy museum and Maison de Jules Verne. However, one of the most special things about Amiens, and the reason that makes it a wonderful place for a weekend break, is the city’s old streets and historic centre. Walking down these give you a real sense of the city’s past, as well as its present, with each alleyway and square lined with delicious eateries. Stop for bite to eat, or just for a moment to enjoy the view.

Whatever you do there, there is nothing quite like a trip to Amiens.

People standing in the background of bridge on the Somme river in the city center of Amiens in Picardie, France, linking the Saint Leu district with the Cathedral Square

Where is Amiens?

Located in Northern France in the Somme River Valley, Amiens is the capital of the Somme department in the Hauts-de-France region. As the largest city between Paris and the English Channel, Amiens is also the regional capital of Picardy.

Driving to Amiens from Calais

One of the reasons Amiens is a perfect weekend destination is the length of travel time from Folkestone. Using Eurotunnel Le Shuttle means you’ll be in Calais within 35 minutes and from there on your way to Amiens.

Using the A16 toll road means your journey from Calais to Amiens should take just under two hours, so you’ll be able to unpack and start relaxing in no time. 

Alternatively, you can use the A26 toll road, which will take you past Arras and the Somme River. Although this is a slightly longer journey (just over two hours) you’ll get the chance to stop in some of the best-loved spots in the Hauts-de-France region.

A brief history of Amiens

Amiens was recognised by King Louis VI of France in 1113 and joined the crown of France in 1185. While its textile industry and cathedral have been esteemed since the Middle Ages, the city itself has an extensive history.

Amiens has played a part in several of Europe’s most significant wars. The Treaty of Amiens was signed in 1802 and achieved peace in Europe for 14 months during the Napoleonic Wars.

In the First World War, the Battle of Amiens (8-11 August 1918) marked the opening of the Allies’ ‘Hundred Days Offensive’ campaign. The Battle of Amiens is known for having one of the largest advances of the war (on the first day Allied forces gained 11km), and for positively impacting the morale of the Allied troops.

Must-visit attractions in Amiens

Moving back to the present day, visitors to Amiens will be astounded by the number of things to see and do in the city.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens

A twice-listed UNESCO world heritage site, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens is the largest gothic cathedral in Northern France. Dating back to the 13th century, the site is included as part of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route and is an unmissable part of any visit to Amiens.

Standing 112m high and 145m in length, Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens is twice as big as its Parisian namesake. Architecturally, the classic gothic style is predominant, and the western façade is home to some incredible 13th century sculptures that capture the essence of gothic design.

Inside the cathedral, the original stained-glass windows are still in place, as is the portal of the Virgin. You can also see the gallery of Kings, which represents 22 monarchs in total. If you’re visiting Amiens at Christmas or in summer, the cathedral is lit up in its original colours so make sure to plan a visit when it gets dark.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens at night with entrance way lit up. 13th-century Gothic edifice, famous for lavish decoration & carvings, with 2 unequal towers.

Maison de Jules Verne

Amiens was famously the adopted home of author Jules Verne who wrote ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ and ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’.

His home of 18 years is now open as a museum and filled with over 700 objects that give visitors insight into the life and inspiration of the author. Stroll from the conservatory to the attic and soak in the magic of this 19th-century mansion where the stories of Captain Nemo and Phileas Fogg first began. You can also visit the Jules Verne Circus, an artist’s event space, which is just down the road from his home.

Musée de Picardie

Slightly further along from the Jules Verne Circus is the Musée de Picardie, built to highlight and preserve the history of Amiens and Picardy. Housed in a purpose-built space designed in the Second Empire architectural style, the building is an exhibit in its own right.

Inside is a plethora of exhibitions that range from ancient Greek or Egyptian artifacts to archaeological discoveries from the Hauts-de-France region. For fans of fine art, there are plenty of sculptures, as well as paintings by Picasso, Miro, and El Greco. Wander for hours through the different rooms that balance both the individual exhibitions with the space for visitors to reflect on them.

Tour Perret

For fans of more modern architecture, stopping at the Tour Perret is a necessity. Located in the centre of Amiens, this residential skyscraper stands 110m tall and can be seen from 10km around. The building is comprised of 25 floors and was designed by the architect Auguste Perret in 1948.

The Tour Perret combines the traditional belfries of France with the architecture of some of the first American skyscrapers. The building is split into three parts, with the first 19 floors in a distinct square section. The next 5 floors are in a polygonal style and a concierge makes up the top floor. Although visitors can’t go up to the top of the tower, the lower section offers 360-degree views of the city centre.

Tour Perret against a grey sky with houses and treetops surrounding it

Marie-sans-Chemise

Yet another monument that can be enjoyed while exploring the city on foot is the Marie-sans-Chemise. Initially, the clock was designed to prevent people without a watch from missing their trains. However, its stunning design means it has become so much more than that.

The architect Charles-Emile Riquie designed the clock, and its construction took 4 years. The iron supporting column was designed in the Rocco style, and the sculptor Albert Roze added the distinctive bronze statue which led the locals to baptise the figure ‘Marie sans Chemise’. Having survived both World Wars (the monument was dismantled during WW2 for protection) Marie-sans-Chemise is an iconic part of Amiens and should not be missed.

Marie-sans-Chemise statue in Amiens city centre with gothic architecture in the background

Cimetière de la Madeleine

Since its construction in the 18th century, the Cimetière de la Madeleine has established a reputation as being one of the loveliest graveyards in France to visit.

Fans of Jules Verne should visit his grave, which, thanks to the work of Albert Roze again, is one of the most spectacular in the cemetery. Complete with a large sculpture of the writer, the tomb is a testament to his work and talent, as well as an incredible display of artistic ingenuity.

Church of Saint-Leu

Located in the decidedly picturesque Saint-Leu neighbourhood, the Church of Saint-Leu was built in 1481 and is one of the 12 parishes of Amiens. Its namesake, Saint Leu was the Bishop of Sens in the 7th century, and the building is again designed in the iconic gothic style.

Surrounded by colourful houses and canals, Saint-Leu itself has echoes of Venice and offers fantastic opportunities to take some of those all-important holiday photos.

Row of buildings and cobbled streets in the Saint-Leu neighbourhood in Amiens

Drive to Amiens with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Whether it’s for the architecture, the art, or the literary connections, Amiens is a destination that’s well worth adding to your bucket list. Book now and get ready to drive to Amiens with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.

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Drive to Amiens with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

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