Amiens & the Somme region
North of Paris, the Somme region is at the crossroads between Flanders and Paris, the capital of France. During World War I, the Somme region was turned into battlefields, where many countries fought as part of the Allied effort. It is a moving experience to visit these sites: Thiepval Memorial, the American Cemetery near Bony, Beaumont Hamel Canadian site, the Pozières Memorial with British, Australian and Canadian tombs . . .
The lively town of Amiens beckons with its magnificent lady : the Cathedral of Amiens, which is the largest cathedral in France. You may also stroll the Hortillonnages floating gardens located in the Saint Leu district or return to childhood by visiting Jules Verne's house.
The Picardy area is also famous for the Bay de Somme, the natural flora and fauna reserve where the Somme river empties into the English Channel.
How to get to the Somme region
The Somme region and its main city Amiens are just a 1hr30 drive from Paris or CDG airport. This is very easy to reach, even on the day you land in France if you don't plan to stay in Paris to recover from jetlag.
Being located at a crossroads makes the Somme region very accessible from other French regions:
- From the East: The Champagne vineyards and Reims are less than a 2hr drive, while Verdun is about 3hrs.
- From the West: Normandy with Etretat cliffs, famous for Arsène Lupin, are also a 2hr drive, while Rouen is a 1hr30 drive and Bayeux is 3hrs.
- From the North: Lille and the Flanders region is about a 2hr drive.
- From the South: Paris is 1h30 away when driving.
We do not recommend taking a train from Paris to Amiens: the hassle of the train (carrying the luggage, etc) isn't worth the time you will save compared to driving.
The Somme & Picardy Sites
The Somme and the Picardy region were the theater for several battles mostly during World War I.
World War I in the Somme - France
- The Battle of the Somme sites can be visited by following the Circuit of Remembrance, between Albert and Péronne.
- The Thiepval Memorial: The memorial bears the names of 72,194 British and South African servicemen who died in the Battle of the Somme. Very nearby is the Ulster Memorial Tower, which commemorates the men of the 36th Ulster Division and is a copy of Helen's Tower in County Down.
Thiepval Museum ©Somme Tourisme
- The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial: The site, which consists of several areas, commemorates the efforts of the 1st Battalion of the Canadian Newfoundland Regiment, and represents the best surviving trench system from WWI.
Beaumont Hamel Canadian Memorial ©Somme Tourisme
- The Somme American Cemetery: Located near Bony in Picardy, the cemetery contains 1,844 graves of American soldiers who lost their lives in operations near Catigny or while serving in American units attached to British armies in the area.
- Longueval: The area has three memorials. The Delville Wood South African Memorial, the Pipers Memorial and the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial.
Longueval New Zealand Memorial ©Somme Tourisme
- The Australian National Memorial and Villers-Brettoneaux Military Cemetery honor the Australian soldiers who fought in France and Belgium, with 2,100 Commonwealth soldiers buried in the cemetery.
Villers Bretonneux Australian Memorial ©Somme Tourisme
- Vimy Ridge (North from Somme): the Canadian National Vimy Memorial sits upon the spot from which the Canadian Corps make their assult during the initial Battle of Vimy Ridge offensive of the Battle of Arras.
The best way to visit these sites is with a private guide that we will plan for you, based on your nationality, your specific interests, etc. They will bring this history alive for a moment you will never forget.
The Bay of Somme
The Bay of Somme, where the Somme rivers empties into the English Channel, is a natural wildlife reserve made up of dunes, marches and salt fields. This is a major resting stop for migrating birds, and surprisingly is the home to a rather large seal colony. The towns of Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme and Cayeux-sur-Mer are chaming to visit.
Cliffs in Ault in the Somme Bay "Baie de Somme" ©C.Pegard-Somme Tourisme
Amiens is a very pleasant little city which you can easily visit walking.
The Cathedral - did you know?
- Amiens Cathedral is the largest Cathedral in France - about twice as big as Notre Dame in Paris. It is classical Gothic architecture.
- Also, the shell of the building was made in 68 years - unbelivable, especially during the XIIIth century
- There is a 234 meter-long labyrinth which pays tribute to the builders of the Cathedral
- The 2 towers of the Cathedral are not symetric. While Notre Dame de Paris has 2 identical towers, many other Cathedrals in France do not. This is often because of budget or building issues.
- There are 307 steps to the North tower. If you reach the top, the views are great.
Amiens Cathedral - ©F.Leonardi-Somme Tourisme
With over 100 floating gardens divided by 40 miles (65km) of canals, the Hortillonnages are a unique site in Amiens. On foot or in a small boat, this is a relaxing and charming way to discover a different side of Amiens.
Hortillonnages in Amiens - ©Somme Tourisme
Accommodation & Gastronomy in the Somme
We have selected charming B&Bs that are perfectly located so that you may visit all the WWI sites, Amiens and the nearby Bay of Somme, allowing you to make the most of your time in the area.
We will share with you our favorite selection of restaurants where you will be able to try some of the local cuisine: duck paté, the ficelle picarde (a savory crepe with ham, mushrooms, scallions and cream), macarons d'Amiens made from almonds and honey, and salicorns from the Bay of Somme. However, instead of washing it down with French wine, the beverage of choice here is locally-made beer - either classic "blondes" to spice or fruit infused brews, the choice is endless.
Macarons from Amiens - ©Somme Tourisme
FAQ about the Somme
Where is the Somme battlefield in France?
The WW1 battlefields of the Somme are located in the rural region of Picardie, a beautiful part of northern France. The Somme department stretches from St Quentin in the east, through the city of Amiens, all the way to the coast. Amiens is about a 90-minute drive from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
The nearest town to the Somme battlefields is Albert, but we love having our travelers stay in the beautiful town of Amiens, which is about 30 minutes' drive from Albert.