Just north of the Ile de France, lies Picardy, now part of the Hauts de France region. A region rich in history that stretches from the English Channel to the Champagne region, a few hours from the English coast in the north and the Benelux countries in the east.
If we look at the administrative division of the region, we find 3 departments whose names echo the river that runs through them: the Aisne, the Oise and the Somme.
The motorway network is rich (A5, A1, A29 and A26) and serves many dynamic cities: Amiens in the Somme, Laon, St Quentin and Soissons in the Aisne, Beauvais, and Compiègne in the Oise ... And other cities worth discovering.
From everywhere there are easy connections to Paris and Charles de Gaulle airport by road or train, sometimes in less than an hour.
The same applies to the neighbouring city of Reims, which is in the famous Champagne region. Also in the Aisne region, especially around the town of Château-Thierry, there are vineyards and producers with the Champagne ‘appellation d'origine contrôlée’ (labelled name).
Between the cities, the landscape is rural. The region has been a fertile agricultural area for many centuries. After the development of extensive farming in the 1970s, there has been a shift towards organic farming in recent years, with the planting of new hedgerows and the restoration and protection of biodiversity.
The region has several protected natural parks: in the south, the Oise-Pays de France Regional Natural Park; in the northwest, the Bay of the Somme; and just east of the Aisne department, in the north, the Avesnois Regional Natural Park.
The forests of Compiègne, Villers-Cotterêts, Saint-Gobain and Saint-Michel are renowned for their size, their game, and also the historical events that took place there, from the Middle Ages to the First World War.
In addition, several important wetlands are now the subject of preservation programs for exceptional environments. Marshes, lakes, ponds: some are used as reserves for migratory birds, others are reserved for tourism and fishing.
Picardy is mainly the green getaway just a stone's throw from Paris and Belgium. You can opt for a stroll along the water's edge with an important waterway heritage, or take the Eurovéloroute3 which passes through La Thiérache where you can also go canoeing or hiking.
The Thiérache is also the home to the famous Maroilles, a mature cow's milk cheese that is so popular in the Hauts de France. Underneath its rough appearance, this cheese of character lets its softness and mellowness shine through. It resembles the Picards people; once you know it, you can only appreciate it.
For lovers of architectural and historical heritage, you will not be left out. Here are only a few examples of what you can find:
The famous Gothic cathedrals of Amiens, Noyon, Senlis, Beauvais, Laon and Soissons.
Fortified towns such as Château-Thierry. Medieval castles such as Pierrefonds. Unusual discoveries such as the underground paths or the mansions in Laon, a town built on a hill.
Tours and visits about the painful periods of war which scared the region: in particular the First World War and the infamous Chemin des Dames.
Museums, various activities for all age groups on specific themes such as medieval festivals, art deco, gastronomy, local and traditional industries...
By the way, did you know? Picardy is also the home of several famous artists such as Jules Verne, who was born in Amiens, Henri Matisse, the famous impressionist painter born in Bohain-en-Vermandois and Jean de la Fontaine, born in Château-Thierry, to name only a few.
But let's not forget the thrill-seekers, who can enjoy the nearby amusement parks.
There are also horse-riding and golfing opportunities for enthusiasts or first timers ....
In short, Picardy has a lot to offer and there is something for everyone! But its first asset is its geographical situation allowing to easily join several countries of Northern Europe or to exile from the Capital without going too far.