Amiens, France

Ahh Amiens I’ve missed you! I haven’t been here since 2009 and I do love the place. This was where I saw my first Lumiere when my friend was visiting. 

Amiens cathedral.
As part of their Lumiere season the Cathedral of Our Lady in Amiens was treated to a spectacular light show which included lighting the cathedral’s gothic facade with the original colours it was painted in when first built.

Some people say it’s nice to come home but I don’t feel that way about where I was born or brought up, I feel that way about places I have a connection to. I definitely have a connection to Amiens. As I said I saw my first Lumiere here. The cathedral in Amiens when originally built was painted in bright colours. The Lumiere was intended simply to recreate those colours and show how the façade would have looked when originally built.

They made a show of it of course with some music as well and it was an amazing spectacle. It was all the more exciting as we had not expected it. We were simply sitting in the public square enjoying the balmy night and were in fact ready to go back to the van when the Lumiere started.

There’s an excellent Saturday market in Amiens too and I recall standing in front of a stall packed with lettuces of all different varieties. Of course I love salad so this was a treat for me and I was eyeing them all up and I asked what one variety was called and he replied “Salade.” I pointed to another and he said again “Salade.” So I pointed to an odd looking one and said “Salade?” and he nodded lol

A woman was standing by me and she turned out to be British as she explained that you simply point to which ones you want, even the French don’t learn the names of all the varieties. I felt a little foolish but laughed anyway. Later, the one I picked went into a salad and it was the most delicious lettuce. Mmmm.

Parklife

Parc St Pierre, Amiens
The main park in Amiens. It’s got a lake, running track, sports areas, wildlife and of course lots of well tended grass.

Jack of course loves the park next to the city, the Parc St Pierre. I recall trying to teach him to swim here when he was young but he wasn’t having it. He’d rather spend his time chasing ducks and anything else he thinks he can kill. 

It’s a huge sprawling park and even late at night I feel safe walking through it despite the odd lurkers here and there.

I recall once coming back through at about 1 am with all my photo gear and there was a large group of youngsters sitting on the steps chatting and laughing as youngsters do. As I approached they made a way for me through the middle of them and two of them said ‘Bon nuit Monsieur’, which I thought was pretty dam charming. 

I spent a few days here and in that short time I felt utterly relaxed and recharged. Sometimes being in a favourite place for a short time is all you need to recentre yourself. 

There’s a surprising amount to see in Amiens but it’s also a lovely city to relax in and even in the centre of the city prices aren’t inflated as they are some places. I highly recommend a visit and here’s some more photos to whet your appetite. 

Amiens

Amiens cathedral
Amiens cathedral

After visiting Amiens once, I decided that as my friend was coming to stay for a week I would leave most of it uncovered and would explore it with her. We did this, and I found Amiens to be a fabulous city with loads to see and do both in itself and in surrounding villages that are far enough away to cycle there.

I’ve got quite a few photos of Amiens but that’s because there is quite a lot to photograph. There’s lots to explore too, from the amazing Gothic cathedral which could house 2 of the Paris Notre Dames, to the St Leu ancient district with it’s old canal side buildings, to the vast ‘Hortinollages’, the houses built on the canals in the marsh.

One night we were sitting in the square in front of the cathedral, enjoying the peace despite there being an awful lot of people around. We wondered why so many, but we put it down to the fact that it was a lovely night, the cathedral looked gorgeous with it’s lights on and it was so peaceful. Just as we agreed to leave around 10:30 pm, the flood lights suddenly went out. That’s unusual as mostly they stay on until midnight in France, but what made it odder was … people were clapping!

We were then rewarded with a spectacular show. As can be seen in the photos, the doorway arches are covered by carvings. Apparently these used to be coloured and it was only when restoration of the west portico began that this fact emerged. So, some clever person set out to recreate what colours would have been there, make some kind of film of it and project it onto the cathedral at night. What a wondrous show! I took closeups to show the detail they’d gone to and how some of the statues looked with and without the colour.  We were gob smacked and my friend was moved to tears by the amazing spectacle, so beautiful and so unexpected. We had to go back a second night just to take sure we had really seen it!

Madeleine cemetery
Madeleine cemetery

We also visited the Madeleine cemetery just north of Amiens. It’s a cemetery which in the past housed tombs of the wealthy who could afford somewhere for their entire families to be buried. It’s odd to say that it can be fun and interesting to visit a cemetery but it was! Look out for the grave of a very famous author buried there, who settled near Amiens and died there.
Look out also for the tomb that appears to have been broken open. Human remains can be seen clearly but my French isn’t good enough to go and ask what happened there. My imagination is good enough to invent my own story though. 🙂

It’s easy to navigate round Amiens, it’s got a zoo, the Hortinollages, St Leu which has moorings and we parked for a couple of nights in the free car park by the moorings. It’s got a lovely market and a great park which are both well used by residents. It’s also got the Madeleine cemetery and a laundrette and you can read about the laundrette in another post.

Love in the laundrette!

After searching for 3 days I finally find a laundrette when I get to Amiens. I’m not desperate yet, ‘cos none of my undercrackers have been turned inside out so I’ve got six months to go but … my sheets feel like cardboard boxes so am thinking it be best to get them all cleaned up.

Laundrette
Laundrette of lurrrrve

So anyway I have 3  loads and I get them all in separate machines, select the right programme (cos you know what happened in Chateaudun!) and go to put my money in. Now, French laundrettes work differently to ours. There’s one box that controls all the machines and it takes coins or tokens. So I insert my €3 and press 1. Check behind me and the washer is going so cool, one down two to go. I stick another €3 in and press 2 … nothing. I press 2 again, nothing. I press return coins, nothing. I belt the machine with the heel of my hand, nothing. Bugger. So I stick another €3 in and press 3. Aye machine 3 starts up so that’s all cool, so flushed with that success I stick yet another €3 in and press 2 again. Nothing.  Hmmm.

Well before I have a chance to do anything else this very cute little chick who I’d noticed with her Mum comes over and speaks in excellent English, “You have to call this number for each incident.” She points to a call-us-if-there’s-a-problem number on the wall and as I don’t appear to have a phone and can’t speak much French, she gets her phone out and starts dialing the number.  I’m well impressed. But before she gets connected, the mother does something to the machine and it starts up. So I’m full of thank you’s and that and chuffed that everything’s going so well.

I start cracking onto hot chick, turns out she’s Romanian studying in France and her English is exceptional. As is her arse 🙂  So of course I sucked my belly in, stuck my chest out and gives it some for Britain. She’s putting up a game fight but I reckon I’ve got this in the bag here like. ‘Til mother decides they’re going elsewhere while their washing is in! TUT! So I’m left in the laundrette with a fat Indian and two noisy French lads. Thanks.

So later on hot chick comes back, without her Mum. She smiles as she comes in and she’s checking me out the whole time she’s putting stuff in the dryer, so I get up and she says yes please, she’d like a hand with her washing. So I’m helping her put things in the dryer and I tried very hard not to grin, but it did cross my mind that now I had actually had my hand in her knickers hahahaha! Aww come on I’m a single bloke …whaddya expect!

Anyway we’re chatting on getting on like a house on fire and I’m wondering if she’s ever had it in a camper before? Will she be up for it? Well who knows but for now she’s on her way out again while her clothes are drying. Hmmm I think she’s playing hard to get. So later, I’m putting my own stuff in the dryer when hot chick comes back to collect her washing. I of course drop what I’m doing to help her and we’re chatting, smiling etc. She’s checking me out all the time  and she’s only maybe 25-28? I’m 49 and look it  so maybe she’s just one of those chicks who’s into older men. I don’t care I’m loving it. So we finish her washing and I try to move in for the kill but she’s resisting! Dammit why do girls do this! Fat Indian and the French boys have been watching me the whole time and now there’s another bloke in, so I’m feeling that I need to close the deal here! Then … she leaves! She heads for the bloody door saying Bye! I can’t believe it! But wait … a backward glance, a smile, she hesitates, stops, turns, and heads back to me! Whey hey! She comes right up face on, gives me a huge beaming smile and says “I also know where there is a good hairdresser for you to use while you’re on your holidays.” Dumbfounded I reply that it’s fine cos I always cut my own. Her face says “You can tell.” so I just smiled and waited for her to bugger off. Cheeky bint.

So the moral of the story is, when in foreign laundrettes keep an eye out for East European lesbians!