Picardy has a gently rolling countryside, ancient cathedrals, extensive forests and beaches and of course is the area that witnessed some of the bitterest battles of WWI. Thankfully today however it provides a lovely location for a cottage holiday in northern France. For self catering accommodation in this region see our gites in Picardy.
Geographically, the Picardy region of North West France touches both the Channel and South Belgium border, but its importance is more historic. It has a rich medieval heritage and also has some equally important sites of the Great War.
For those with an interest in the more distant past, Picardy has a long history stretching back to Roman times, and has some particularly good examples of Gothic architecture. The English, Spanish and the Habsburgs have all ruled this part of France over the past millennium, each leaving their mark.
Europe''s largest cathedral and one of the most impressive in France is at Amiens, while Beauvais, Laon, St Quentin and Soissons also have great examples of the Gothic style. Visitors can discover more at the Museum of Picardy in Amiens. Compiegne meanwhile is rich with royal and political intrigue, from the Burgundians’ capture of Joan of Arc during the 100 Years War to the signing of the Armistice for both world wars.
Picardy''s place in modern history is related to its importance in both world wars. Some of the most important battlefields of the period can be found in the region and a visit to the Somme is a must to commemorate the First World War. Among the military cemeteries to be found in Picardy are the unassuming site at Ors, the burial place of war poet Wilfred Owen, the large American cemetery of Meuse-Argonne and the Duaumont ossuary at Verdun. Compiegne Forest holds a memorial centre for the signing of the Armistice, among the many monuments and museums dedicated to this period in the area.
Nonetheless Picardy has plenty to offer non-history buffs, from spectacular chateaux at Chantilly, Pierrefonds and Compiegne, the Baie de Somme bird sanctuary and Plailly''s Aterix theme park. There are vast forested areas and even local vineyards where Picardy borders Champagne.
Along the coastal region of the western Somme there are 70 kilometres of sandy beaches, dotted with seaside resorts. A great way of exploring this coastline on foot is to take to the coastal ‘grand randonne’ path.
To discover this part of northern France at your leisure take a look at our Picardy holiday cottages; a great base for exploring and appreciating the characteristic local cuisine and culture of the area.