Amiens, much restored after being damaged during both world wars, is the capital of the Somme department and the broader region of Picardy. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame, overlooking the River Somme and which incredibly it survived the wartime bombardment, is the main reason to visit.
Built over a period of around 50 years from 1220, Amiens Cathedral is the tallest in the country and has a 140-feet-high nave. Bits have been replaced, others restored, and little of its original stained glass remains, but it nevertheless retains its Gothic grandeur - with intricate reliefs on its walls and choir stalls and statues such as those on the King's Gallery, which represent the kings of France. Financed by profits from the cultivation of woad, it was built to house the skull of John the Baptist, which Crusaders returning from the Fourth Crusade believed they had found. In summer evenings a light show, accompanied by music, attempts to recreate the medieval ambience of its heyday.
Amiens was an important textiles-producing centre and the quartier St-Leu, with its flower-lined canals, cobbled streets and cottages, was the hive of this industry and is now a pleasant part of town dotted with restaurants and cafes. Boat trips on the canals and to nearby market gardens are a popular way to spend a few hours.