Amiens, north of Paris and west of Lille, is a town of about 130,000 with a long and varied history, dating, like many French towns, to before the Romans arrived. Its useful location in the Somme basin made it a battleground of note not only in World War II and World War I, but right back to the Norman era, and before, that, caught the strategic interest of various barbarian tribes.
Surprisingly, Amiens features the tallest Gothic cathedral in France, topping Notre Dame in Paris. As for industry, textile manufacturing in the 17th and 18th centuries (notably velour) were a mainstay, but wholesale fighting and bombardment during the two World Wars put the town into a long decline until the 1990’s, when a new university campus and a revitalization of the town center brought much-needed energy and investment.
A visit to Amiens would not be completely without a sampling of the local almond biscuits, savory puff pastries and duck pate. One of the odder historical notes about Amiens is the identity of a long-serving city council member in the early 20th century: none other than famed author Jules Verne, who married a local girl.
Interactive Amiens, France Map:
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