When I’m on a citytrip, I try to search for beautiful nature spots in and around the city. Untill recently it was still a mystery to me that Amiens has so many natural areas. Amiens is a lovely city to wander around and if you’re looking for nature you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
There’s a very special natural area just a stone’s throw from the town center, created by the hands of men: the hortillonnages. The hortillonnages of Amiens, also called the floating gardens, are a series of small-scale allotments separated by numerous small canals. This protected area covers 300 hectares and is mostly only accessible by boat.
I visited this area by boat and discovered the area around the hortillonnages on foot. Read on and enjoy the beauty of nature!
Discover the hortillonnages by boat
Due to the protected natural area, you can best explore the hortillonnages by boat. A small boat takes you through picturesque surroundings and a guide tells many interesting anecdotes about the marsh area and its history. The boat trip lasts 45 minutes.
In this 2000 year old area, 65 km of canals find their way through the fertile gardens, which are used since Gallo-Roman times for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. Nowadays only a few pieces of land are used for this purpose. The harvest is showcased every Saturday at the market on the water in the Saint-Leu district. There are about 450 vegetable gardens in this area, all privately owned. The chance to possess one is almost non existent we were told, since these are kept in the family. We navigate past all kinds of fields, each one is maintained and flourished in a different way. From the most basic to the most eccentric homes and gardens, you’ll find it all here!
These narrow canals look and feel so peaceful. You get carried away by these rustic boats effortlessly. In these boats you really feel like going back in time, surrounded by a green oasis. A magical place. The great diversity of plants as well as animals that live here are enjoyable to look at. We spot big and small fish and see several birds and bright blue dragonflies along and in the water. Some houses of former gardeners are inaccessible because they are overgrown and unstable. Quel dommage as the French say, because they radiate so much charm. Among all the bright and colorful huts and houses one stands out, a very inviting little house with dark red shutters and groomed to perfection. This property appears to be for rent and even if I say so myself, it’s very tempting to book this property!
Walking along the chemin de halage, the towpaths
A walk of 2,5 km along the river la Somme runs along the most picturesque houses, bridges and breathtaking nature. The former swimming pool that served as municipal swimming pool in the 70s is situated at the beginning of this road. From this point starts a beautiful exposition in nature. This is part of the Festival Art, Ville et Paysage, which can be admired from June 11 to October 16. We briefly walk through the gardens and spot a hop plantation equipped with bright red hammocks, an idyllic place to recharge your batteries. We don’t stay here very long because we want to explore the city center, which is certainly worth a visit. Furthermore, the towpaths are also a perfect place for cyclists and water lovers. Canoeing on the river la Somme or cycling to explore the area is also possible.
Relaxing in Parc Saint Pierre
Parc Saint Pierre is definitely worth a detour during a visit to Amiens. This beautiful green park located between the hortillonnages and the Cathedral of Amiens is 22 hectares. The perfect place for a stroll, a picnic and sports and leisure activities. In addition, this parc features a great body of water where you can rent canoes and pedal boats in summer.
These are not the only “green” places of this city but the most famous. Amiens is a typical example of a city which you always drive past, but you didn’t even know how beautiful it is and how much it has to offer. I was very charmed by this place!
Would you like to go on relaxing day trip here?
Want to read more about beautiful French nature spots? You might also like this:
Why the Vosges are a great destination, in images
Surprising South of France: charm and beauty of the Luberon
Hiking in the Calanques of Cassis