Picardie forms a région in North of France. It is bounded to the west by Upper Normandy, to the east by Champagne-Ardennes, to the north by Nord-Pas-de-Calais and to the south by Ile-de-France.The Picardie région consists of three départements: the Somme (département 80), the Oise (département 60) and the Aisne (département 02).Picardie’s population is 1.88 million and its surface area is 19,400 km².
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A fabulous past
600,000 years of history…Picardy is the birthplace of gothic art and even of France itself: the first French king, Clovis, was born at Soissons, where one of the most beautiful examples of gothic art can be seen. From primitive to the more flamboyant, its six cathedrals tell of a fabulous past: Hugues Capet at Senlis (first of these great structures), Noyon (symbol of the former grandeur of this Episcopal city where Calvin was born), Amiens (the biggest of them, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and known as the “stone Bible”), Laon (the contemporary of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris with its ‘floating’ architecture) and Beauvais (for its architectural richness). These six cathedrals tell the story of a richand powerful past. Relive history, from Neolithic sites to Celtic fortresses, from France’s largest archaeological site to underground hiding places, chapels to abbeys, basilicas to fortified churches. The many and marvellous castles, so popular with film makers, open their doors to you, as do the many museums with their varied collections of archaeology, decorative arts, art and popular traditions, famous men and writers, nature and military history… Few regions can pride themselves on having kept alive such a memory of several centuries of civilization, and Picardy is truly an open book to the past.
Festivals and Traditions
Picardy has never lost its love of a good celebration. Traditional festivals revive local traditions and play an important role in the picard way of life. Reenactments of history, costumes, local produce, flower, fruit and music festivals, the “Feux de la St Jean” and traditional Picardy games are just a few examples. A wide range of possibilities for the whole year round: The Cathedrals Festival, puppet theatre (“Chés Cabotan”), classical concerts, classic and lyric music festivals, the ” son et lumière ” display at Ailly-sur Noye and the “Nuits de feu, Fireworks Festival at Chantilly. Picardy is also a region favoured by film directors. No less than 250 films have been made here (Cocteau’s ” la Belle et la Bête”, “Fort Saganne” , “Les Visiteurs”, “Camille Claudel”, “La reine Margot”…). Some of the locations of these films can be visited during the region’s different film festivals. Picardy has also been the home or holiday choice of many painters and writers. Take the time to visit their houses or get to know their works.
Sport and leisure
With its many park, forests and wide open spaces, Picardy offers an extraordinary range of sporting activities, from walking, cycling, pony trekking and carriage rides to fishing and hunting. Picardy is the region of the horses: with several thousand horses, of which the “Henson” is a regional thoroughbred, a hundred equestrian centres, prestigious race courses, the bridle paths of Compiègne, the wide expanses of the Somme Bay, and the flagship Chantilly, known as “the capital of French horsemanship” with its Living Horse Museum. Picardy also has a large number of golf courses for the expert golfer down to the absolute beginner.
Picardy is a haven for those who love water sports: 1,200km of rivers, 80km of coastline and more than 700km of navigable canals crossing its three departments. A variety of landscapes can be explored from the canals of the north: from Péronne to Noyon, from Saint-Quentin to Chauny, from the Oise to Aisne, from the Ourcq between Meaux and Le Ferté Milon. The lakes of the Somme, the Noye valley, Thiérache, Soissonais and the Oise are havens for anglers, with their rich plant and wildlife (trout, carp, gudgeons and many varieties of water lilies). There is also sailing, sand yachting, speed-sailing and canoeing. A number of charming coastal resorts await you with their fine sandy or pebble beaches and with magnificent views of the Somme bay and chalk cliffs.
Looking at the landscapes of Picardy, you understand why they have inspired writers as varied as Paul Claudel, Chateaubriand, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Colette. Picardy combines three different types of countryside: a beautiful and romantic unspoilt shoreline, plateaux and forests to lure you away, and the tranquillity of canals and rivers. It has become a haven for a remarkable range of flora and fauna. Explore the bird sanctuary of the majestic Somme bay, with its dunes, rabbit warrens and marshes. Go in search of the curiosities of the Halatte forest to the north of Senlis and delight in the vast horizons of the Vermandois plateaux. Whether it is wide open spaces that you love or fishing or other outdoor activities – with friends or family – Picardy is sure to please.
Gastronomy of Picardy
Discover the vast choice of regional specialities: duck pâté from Amiens, foie gras, “ficelle picarde” (savoury pancake), “Flamique à porions ” (leek tart), ” tarte au Maroilles” (cheese tart), shellfish from the Somme Bay, including its famous cockles, lamb from the salt marshes, rissoles from Laon, soft fruit from Noyon, vegetables from the Hortillonages d’Amiens, pork rinds from St Quentin, cheeses from the Thiérache region, ciders from Bray, Champagne from the south of Aisne, macaroons, “gâteau battu” (sort of bread-cake), and the famous Chantilly cream.
Our team of sale advisers at Sextant Properties will be happy to help you to find a property in Picardie. We have a large network of partners in Picardie. All of them are registered French real estate agents and speak both French and English. Whatever kind of property you are looking for: farmhouse, longere, barn, gite, B&B, country house, mill, castle or chateau, we will do our best to find a property for sale in Picardie matching your requirements.