Picardie-Picardy: The Picardie Region (Picardy in English) of France stretches from the coast (between Berck and Le Tréport) to just north of Reims and then dips south across the A4/E50 (main highway between Paris and Reims) to include Chateau-Thierry. The three departments found here are the Oise, Somme and the Aisne.
In the Oise Department, you can visit Chantilly and the Château de Chantilly, explore the heart of Senlis which is surrounded in parts by its third century wall, or marvel at the highest cathedral in France which is found in Beauvais. For the children you also have the fun medieval theme park of Parc Asterix.
Literally minutes by car from Chantilly in the westerly direction is the abbey at Royaumont. Royaumont Abbey has beautiful grounds and a wonderfully varied past. Be sure to check it out! Heading toward the east in less than 10 km you will find the wonderful little town of Senlis with its Gallo-Roman ramparts.
Beauvais is only a short hour and 15 minute train journey from Paris Gare du Nord. The train arrives in the city center and the Beauvais Cathedral is only a 15 minute walk from the station with lots of good things to see along the route.
Between Chantilly and Beauvais make sure to stop at the Royaumont Abbey.
Chantilly is a delightful little town with a beautiful château, the Condé Museum, Hippodrome which faces the Grand Stables (a living horse museum), located just a few hundred meters from the Château itself and the Jacques de Manse Pavilion (in the center of town) which was built in the late 1600 to house a hydraulic machine used to pump water from the spring below it.
Only a bike-ride from Chantilly (about 11km) you will find the little village of Senlis. The cobbled streets and walled interior make it well worth a visit. We visited Chantilly in the morning and spent the afternoon walking around Senlis.
For lovers of the graphic comics of Asterix and Obelix a visit to Parc Asterix is definitely in order. This theme park is based on the characters of Asterix and Obelix and their adventures. Ancient history is all wrapped up in a theme park full of fun. There is a shuttle bus that leaves from Paris Gare du Nord train station; just look for the “Parcs de Loisirs” counter.
In the Somme Department, the Battle of the Somme in 1916, Somme Offensive, was one of the bloodiest battles in military history. The French had 204,253 casualties and the British 350,000. A total of 623,907 Allied casualties were recorded. You will find the main tourist office (Tourisme de la Somme) in Amiens France. And the book WALKING THE SOMME – is a good tool.
Just a little more than an hour north of Paris in Amiens you will find France’s largest cathedral. Along with the cathedrals at Chartres, Reims and Notre Dame de Paris, Amiens’ Cathedral of Notre Dame is High Gothic, dating from the early 1200s. St Remi who was the Bishop of Reims is credited with the re-evangilisation of Amiens in the late 400s.
The Aisne Department is closest to Reims and its beautiful cathedral. However, in the capital town of Laon you will find the beautiful Cathedral Notre-Dame de Laon which dates to 1150. Also in this part of the Picardie you will find The World War I Chateau-Thierry American Monument which commemorates American forces which fought in this region. Nearby you will also be able to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial and the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial. The town of Chateau-Thierry is the birth place of Jean de la Fontaine who is a famed fable writer. There is a museum which honors him and it has rotating exhibits.
Leaving from Paris Gare du Nord train station you can be in Chantilly in under 30 minutes and in Amiens in a little over an hour. There are wonderful sites to see that are easy day-trips from Paris. Also, Ryan air flies into the Paris-Beauvais airport from multiple locations in the UK.