Gardens Of Picardy
A coach break from Kent to enjoy some of the loveliest gardens of Picardy
We stay in Amiens in the recently refurbished Holiday Inn Express, handily situated in the city centre just alongside the main railway station and only a short stroll from the cathedral, the main shopping boulevard and the old town of St Leu and its picturesque waterfront. There is also a substantial supermarket alongside. We stay on a bed & breakfast basis to give ourselves the chance to enjoy our own choice of evening meal venues. There is a good choice of reasonably priced restaurants along the waterfront and more in the city centre, including the Brasserie Jules which as well as being open on Sunday evenings is also just a few metres from our hotel.
On Saturday we turn our attention southwards towards the fine city of Beauvais, again a Ville-Fleurie. On leaving Amiens we make for the village of Boves and then follow the course of the River Noye upstream to the village of Paillart where we find the charming Jardin de Moulin Ventin. The waters of the River Noye pass through the heart of this lovely garden, set in the grounds of an old mill dating back to 1805, with the waterfalls and cascades alongside the mill adding period atmosphere.
We give ourselves a good two hours to enjoy the Moulin Ventin before moving on to be in Beauvais centre in time for a lunch stop and a glimpse of the magnificent Cathedral of St Peter http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauvais_Cathedral We also have time whilst in Beauvais to visit the National Tapestry Gallery, right alongside the Cathedral. http://www.oisetourism.co.uk/content/view/full/6893
In the afternoon then move on to the second splendid garden of the day as we journey just a few miles west of Beauvais to the village of Saint Paul and the garden of the post-impressionist painter André Van Beek. http://www.andrevanbeek.com/andre-van-beek-artist These intricate waterside gardens have been nurtured to inspire the artist, with careful design of perspectives so that the flowers complement the reflections and sunlight.
On Sunday we head west in the morning through the small town of Poix-de-Picardie to the Floral Gardens of Digeon. These privately owned gardens in the grounds of a chateau will not disappoint as they have attracted the French Jardin Remarquable accolade, on top of which the adjoining chateau and farm are historic monument registered. These buildings are surrounded by a park of some 6 acres, richly-adorned with ancient trees and banks of flowers. A rose garden and floral path also feature, and the garden has tea rooms and a produce shop.
Having allowed ourselves two hours to enjoy the gardens at Digeon we return to the coach to parallel another river valley – the Bresle – north-westwards to the coastal town of Eu, where we then follow the coast just the short distance to St Valery-sur-Somme, where there are lots of lunch options and some interesting walking and/or shopping for the afternoon.
Decorative delights in St Valery!
It may be a small town, but St Valery is rich in history. It can trace its origins back to pre-Roman times and is notable as the spot where William the Conqueror assembled his fleet before setting sail for the Sussex coast in 1066. The town was popular during the 19th century with artists and writers. Victor Hugo, Jules Verne, Sisley and Degas all had villas here at one time or another. And Joan of Arc is reputed to have been imprisoned here before being taken to her untimely end at Rouen.
There has been an Abbey in St Valery since the 7th Century and although repeatedly plundered, destroyed and rebuilt in conflicts over the centuries, the current Abbey has endured since mediaeval times and is the centrepiece of the old town. St Valery also boasts a large sea lock connecting the bay with the maritime Canal de Somme and onwards into great navigable river and canal system of France and the Low Countries. Many a yacht skipper brings his craft through here en route to the River Rhone and onwards to the Mediterranean.
As the afternoon moves on, we re-assemble at the railway terminus on St Valery waterfront where we join our 4pm steam train for a one-hour journey across the world-famous Bay of the Somme to Le Crotoy on its northern side. Spectacular both for its vista across one of the great bays of the world and its glimpses of the rich wildlife, the railway also takes us back to a bygone age of seaside recreation. The railway, commissioned in 1887, was originally built to serve the great passion for seaside holidays and is today celebrated as an integral component of the heritage of this environmentally protected area.
From Le Crotoy it is less than an hour back to Amiens, and with light evenings at this time of year there will be time either side of supper to perhaps enjoy a stroll along the river’s towpath to glimpse the famous Hortillonnages island gardens.
On Monday we return to Kent, but as we start only two hours or so from Calais Port we have lots of time to make more of our long weekend. Heading west out of Amiens we follow the course of the Somme to the village of Long, where we enjoy a guided visit to the chateau. Built in the early 18th century and known as La Folie de Buissy, the chateau is noted for its striking facades and extensive riverside gardens. Inside, visitors can admire the Golden Room, a magnificent large lounge decorated with signs of the zodiac, the dining room with its music corner, and the boudoir and romantic bedroom…. Then there are the orangery and glass houses, the main courtyard with its fountain and 300 rose bushes, and extensive sloping lawns to the rear studded with trees and offering a wonderful view of the Somme.
The Chateau is open to the Public in July and August each year, but at other times groups are welcomed so on this visit we can expect to enjoy our own private viewing. We begin with a guided tour of the chateau itself, before we go on to enjoy exploring the greenhouses and gardens at our own pace. Visits are normally hosted by the resident family and are guided in French, but English visitor leaflets are provided for us. The more adventurous may then like to take a stroll alongside the Somme for its splendid view of the chateau from the canal arm, and there is also a slightly longer walk uphill to the towering Church of St John the Baptist. Organists from all over the world visit the church to perform on its very rare Cavaillé-Coll organ, but as the church is only open to visitors on Tuesdays and Saturdays in July and August our viewing today has to be confined to the exterior (anyone with special interest in the church or organ please let us know and we will ask the Mairie if arrangements can be made to open-up).
We give ourselves best part of three hours to enjoy the Chateau and village before we return to the coach shortly after midday to continue our homebound journey. The plan is then to make for Calais where we will offer a free afternoon in the Cite-Europe complex - with lots of late-lunch options of course - before we proceed for our early evening return ferry crossing.
Please note that whilst this is a mid-Spring trip and we will be unlucky to be badly disrupted by the weather, we may need to adapt or shuffle some of the itinerary if the conditions are especially windy or wet.
Although by no means strenuous, this tour will require a fair amount of gentle strolling to make the best of the places we visit.
PLEASE NOTE: Price is per person and based on two people sharing a twin/double room. Single room supplements and upgrades are not included.
- Executive coach travel
- Local pick-ups (home pick ups are available at supplementary cost)
- Return ferry crossings Dover-Calais
- Visits to all listed gardens
- Guided visit to the Chateau de Long
- Free time in Amiens, Beauvais, St Valery, Montreuil, Cite-Europe
- Steam train ride on the Somme Bay Heritage Railway
- 3* Bed & Breakfast accommodation at the Holiday Inn Express Amiens
Although by no means strenuous, this tour will require a fair amount of gentle strolling to make the best of the places we visit. Normal home pick-up and feeder services will operate for this trip. Anyone from further afield please feel welcome to join us on this or any other Buzzlines tour. We are happy to arrange parking for you here in Kent, or we will pick you up from Ashford International Station – only 37 minutes by HS1 from London St Pancras – and help you to find overnight hotel or B&B stops.
This holiday may be booked or part-booked by groups, and may be arranged to a similar itinerary on other dates. To register group interest in this trip please call the office on 01303 261870 or email Groups@Buzzlines.co.ukBack to top