Amiens: The Jules Verne City

Amiens is a vibrant city located in the northern part of France, within the Hauts-de-France region. It serves as the capital of the Somme department and is well-known for its rich history, architectural marvels, and cultural significance.

Amiens Cathedral

One of the city’s most prominent landmarks is the Amiens Cathedral, also known as Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens. This stunning Gothic cathedral, which was completed in the 13th century, is the largest of its kind in France and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its intricate façade, towering spires, and beautiful stained-glass windows make it a must-see attraction.

Amiens: An immense cathedral

One of the cathedral’s most striking features is its immense size. It is the largest cathedral in France, boasting an internal volume of 200,000 cubic meters, which is nearly twice that of Notre-Dame de Paris. The building is 145 meters long, and 70 meters wide at the transept, and the nave reaches an impressive height of 42.30 meters. This vast scale allowed the cathedral to accommodate large congregations and stands as a testament to medieval ambition and religious fervor.

The façade of the cathedral is particularly noteworthy.

It is adorned with an intricate array of sculptures that depict biblical scenes, saints, and figures from the Last Judgment. The western façade, with its three deep portals, the gallery of kings, and the two soaring towers, is a masterpiece of Gothic art. The central portal is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to whom the cathedral is dedicated, and features the famous Beau Dieu statue of Christ blessing the world.

Jules Verne Museum/House

Jules Verne

The city of Amiens is also deeply connected to Jules Verne, the famous French novelist known for his pioneering works in science fiction. Verne’s connection to Amiens is prominently showcased at the Maison de Jules Verne, his former residence, which has been transformed into a museum dedicated to his life and works. Located at 2 Rue Charles-Dubois, this elegant 19th-century house offers a fascinating glimpse into Verne’s world. The museum is spread over four floors and features numerous rooms restored to their original state, displaying Verne’s personal belongings, manuscripts, books, and various artifacts that inspired his stories.

The museum provides an intimate look at Verne’s creative process and daily life. Visitors can see his study, where he wrote many of his novels, including “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and “Around the World in Eighty Days.” The study is preserved with Verne’s writing desk, a large globe, and bookshelves filled with his works and references that fueled his imagination.

A notable aspect of Verne’s life in Amiens was his involvement in local civic activities. He was an active member of the community and served on the Amiens City Council from 1888 to 1904. During his tenure, he advocated for various cultural and social initiatives, contributing to the city’s development and cultural enrichment. Verne’s commitment to Amiens and its residents is a testament to his character and his desire to improve the city he called home.

Cirque Jules Verne

Cirque Jules Verne

One of the most significant contributions to Amiens during Verne’s time was the construction of the Cirque Jules Verne, a grand circus building inaugurated in 1889. Verne was instrumental in its planning and development, and today, it remains one of the few permanent circus structures in Europe. The building, designed in a distinctive circular shape, reflects Verne’s interest in innovation and entertainment. It continues to serve as a venue for various cultural events, including circus performances, concerts, and theatrical productions.


Another unique feature of Amiens is the Hortillonnages, a network of floating gardens situated in the heart of the city. These gardens, which cover approximately 300 hectares, are located on small islands crisscrossed by a series of canals. The Hortillonnages have been cultivated for centuries, originally serving as market gardens that supplied fresh produce to the city.

Today, they offer a picturesque and tranquil setting for visitors, who can explore the area by taking guided boat tours on traditional flat-bottomed boats known as “barques à cornet.” The lush greenery, vibrant flowers, and serene waterways provide a stark contrast to the urban environment, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and photographers.

Amiens: a cultural city

Amiens is also a city with a dynamic cultural scene, hosting numerous festivals, concerts, and exhibitions throughout the year. The city’s rich history, combined with its dedication to preserving and celebrating its heritage, makes it a fascinating destination for tourists. Its museums, theaters, and historical sites provide a glimpse into both, its storied past and its contemporary vibrancy.

In summary, Amiens is a city that boasts an impressive blend of historical significance, cultural richness, and natural beauty. From the grandeur of the Amiens Cathedral and the literary legacy of Jules Verne to the enchanting Hortillonnages, there is much to explore and appreciate in this charming northern French city.

Have you visited Amiens or ever lived there? Please share your experiences in the comment below

Image credits:
All images copyright author Mike Werner


About the Contributor

Mike Werner

I'm a Dutch journalist, who writes for American newspapers. I've lived in 22 countries and settled in France 35 years ago with my Irish wife, and I'm enchanted by its charm. You can find my writing on 'Mike's Substack' here:

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