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Amiens (French pronunciation: [amjɛ̃]) is a city and commune in northern France, 120 km (75 mi) north of Paris and 100 km (62 mi) south-west of Lille. It is the capital of the Somme department in Picardy. The city had a population of 136,105 according to the 2006 census.


Originally called Samarobriva ("Somme bridge") by the Gauls, the town was later given the name Ambianum by the Romans as it was a settlement of the Gallic Ambiani people. The Ambiani derive their name from the Gaulish word ambe meaning 'river' – a reference to the Somme that flows through Amiens.[1]
Amiens' 18th century City Hall
Amiens' 19th century Palais de justice
Gambetta Square at the end of the 19th century
Amiens' municipal Circus in 1912
Muslim Carre in the military cemetery of Amiens, in remembrance of World War I's Tirailleurs sénégalais
The Marie sans chemise Clock


The Paleolithic culture named Acheulean was named for its first identified site, in Saint-Acheul, a neighbourhood of Amiens.

Amiens, the Roman Samarobriva, was the central settlement of the Ambiani, one of the principal tribes of Gaul, who were issuing coinage, probably from Amiens, in the 1st century BC. By tradition, it was at the gates of Amiens that Saint Martin of Tours, at the time still a Roman soldier, shared his cloak with a naked beggar. The prosperity of the city made it a target for barbarian tribes such as the Alans, the Burgundians or the Vandals. They conquered the city several times.
Middle Ages

During the 5th century, Chlodio rose to power among the Franks, and Merovech was elected in Amiens by his comrades in arms. Saint Honorius (Honoré) (d. 600 AD) became the seventh bishop of the city.

Normans sacked the city 859 and again in 882. During the second sacking, the city's cathedral was burned.

During the early part of the 10th century, Count Herbert de Vermandois united the regions of Amiens, Vexin, Laon, and Reims.[2]

In 1095, the people of Amiens began to form a rough municipal organization. In 1113 the city was recognized by the King of France; the city was joined to the Crown of France in 1185.

In 1264, Amiens was chosen as the seat of arbitrations when King Louis IX of France settled the conflict between King Henry III of England and his rebellious barons, led by Simon de Montfort. The arbitrations led to Louis deciding on the Mise of Amiens – a one-sided settlement in favor of Henry. This decision almost immediately led to the outbreak of the Barons' War.[3]

In 1435 the city was among the possessions granted to Philip the Good of Burgundy by the Congress of Arras. It was re-acquired again by King Louis XI in 1477 after the death of Charles the Bold.[2]
Renaissance and Industrial Era

In 1597, Spanish soldiers disguised as peasants entered the city and mounted a surprise attack. After six months of siege, the forces of Henry IV regained control of the city and put an end to its autonomous rule.

During the 18th and 19th century, the textile tradition of Amiens became famous for its velours. The Cosserat family rose to prominence as one of the wealthiest of Amiens' textile manufacturing families.

In 1789 the provinces of France were dismantled and the territory was organised into departments. Much of Picardy became the newly-created department of Somme, with Amiens as the departmental capital.

In November 1801, British and French delegates began discussing terms of peace at the Amiens Congress. On 25 March 1802, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the First French Republic signed the Treaty of Amiens, putting an end to the Second Coalition against France.

During the 19th century, Amiens began to feel the effects of the industrial revolution. The city walls were demolished, opening up space for large boulevards around the town centre. The Henriville neighborhood in the south of the city was developed around this time.

In 1848, the first railway arrived in Amiens, linking the city to Boulogne-sur-Mer. After this time, the city began to grow beyond the river and into the surrounding hills.

During the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, Somme was invaded by Prussian forces and Amiens was occupied.

Early science fiction author Jules Verne took up residence in Amiens in 1871, having met his wife there at a wedding in 1856. He was later elected city councilman in 1888.[4]

In 1889, Jules Verne presided over the opening of the Amiens circus, including a courthouse, a police station and a museum dedicated to the history of Picardy.[2]
The 20th century

Beginning in 1905, Victor Commont, called "the founding father of modern Prehistoric science,"[5] performed important archaeological work in the Picardy area.[2]
The First World War

After earlier bombardment of the city, the Battle of Amiens was the opening phase of the Hundred Days Offensive. This offensive led to the armistice which ended the war. Amiens is the town in which much of the book Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks takes place.
The Second World War

The Picardy region was occupied by Nazi troops and several towns, Amiens included, suffered at least partial destruction by bombardment before being liberated.

On 18 February 1944, British airplanes bombed the prison in Amiens as part of Operation Jericho. The raid was intended to aid the escape of members of the French Resistance and political prisoners being held there. In all, 258 prisoners escaped.[6]
Post-War Amiens and the French cultural revolution

The city was rebuilt according to Pierre Dufau's plans, with a focus on widening the streets to ease traffic congestion. These newer structures were primarily built of brick, concrete and white stone with slate roofs. The architect Auguste Perret designed the Gare d'Amiens train station and nearby Tour Perret.

On 2 June 1960, the new region of Picardy was formed from the departments of Aisne, Oise and Somme.[2]

In May 1968, students in Amiens joined in a large-scale strike that began in Paris. Factory and the railway workers in the city joined them a few days later. Amiens was paralyzed by fighting between conservatives and leftist groups. After President Charles de Gaulle's radio address on 31 May, his supporters demonstrated in the streets.

The following October, the University of Amiens (Université d'Amiens) was founded on a campus in the southwestern suburbs of the city.

The city suffered the loss of many jobs as manufacturing plants in the region closed during the late 1970s and 1980s. Despite the hardships, the city made an effort to renovate the degraded area of St-Leu during this time.
End of the 20th century to present day

The 1990s saw a great period of rebirth in the city. The St-Leu renovations were completed, and parts of the University were moved to the city center. The Vallée des Vignes neighborhood was developed in the south of the city, and large parts of the city center were converted to pedestrian areas.

The Gare du Nord was renovated with a controversial new glass roof. The Tour Perret was renovated as well and a new cinema complex was built. The area around the train station began a reorganization.
Main sights
The cathedral in Amiens

Amiens Cathedral (a World Heritage Site) is the tallest of the large 'classic' Gothic churches of the 13th century and is the largest in France of its kind. After a fire destroyed the former cathedral, the new nave was begun in 1220 – and finished in 1247. Amiens Cathedral is notable for the coherence of its plan, the beauty of its three-tier interior elevation, the particularly fine display of sculptures on the principal façade and in the south transept, and the labyrinth, and other inlays of its floor. It is described as the "Parthenon of Gothic architecture", and by John Ruskin as "Gothic, clear of Roman tradition and of Arabian taint, Gothic pure, authoritative, unsurpassable, and unaccusable."
The Belfry
The Circus
The Perret Tower

Amiens is also known for the hortillonnages, gardens on small islands in the marshland along the River Somme, surrounded by a grid network of man-made canals.
"Quartiers" and villages
Quai Bélu
Rue piétonne.
Somme River from the Boulevard de Beauvillé.
To parc St-Pierre.

Amiens comprises a number of neighbourhoods ("quartiers" in French) with their own characteristics, including Saint-Leu, St-Maurice, Henriville, and Saint-Acheul.

St-Leu is a part of Amiens north of the town centre. Its has many older wooden and brick houses and several canals. It was a poor part of town, but since extensive renovation in the 1990s it has become popular with tourists and students as a pretty area with a high concentration of cafés, restaurants and night clubs. Local culture is offered by Chés Cabotans theatre (puppet shows in the Picard language) and 'La Lune des Pirates', a concert hall.

Amiens University's Faculty of Sciences and its Faculty of Law & Economics are located in Saint-Leu.

Situated in between the east of the citadel and the Madeleine cemetery, St-Maurice is one of the industrial parts of Amiens. It is a working-class area which is currently being renovated and rearranged. The walls of the town's former factory of dye are now those of the École Supérieure d'Art et de Design (ESAD) as well as those of the Faculty of Arts. The École supérieure d'ingénieurs en électronique et électrotechnique (ESIEE) is in the same neighbourhood.

The Henriville neighbourhood was mostly built during the 19th century after the demolition of the city wall. It lies at the south of the town centre. It has numerous bourgeois houses and townhouses, such as Jules Verne's house, in architectural styles of the period, including neoclassical and neogothic.

This is where archaeological excavations in the nineteenth century discovered prehistoric tool sets typical of the "Acheulean" prehistorical era, named after this neighbourhood (also spelled Acheulian, pronounced /əˈʃuːliən/). Not to be confused with the commune of Saint-Acheul situated 37 km (23 mi) to the north, the quarter of Saint-Acheul is also the site of a military cemetery from the First World War (1914–1918). It contains the so-called "English neighbourhood," with typical English style houses. At the feet of this area lie the hortillonnages, a marshy area criss-crossed by canals.
Other neighbourhoods

There are also other famous working-class areas in Amiens, such as the Pigeonnier famous for its weekend market in the north, Etouvie in the east, and Victorine Autier in the south-east. These areas know lots of social troubles and have regularly been the place for riots.

Amiens lies on the basin of the Somme river more or less where its tributaries the Selle and Avre flow into it. The old town is situated in a swampy area at the bottom of the valley. The river Somme rarely floods, but did so in 2001.

The town shares the typical oceanic climate of northern France. It is characterised by frequent rainfall, moderate winters and summers.

Amiens is a hub between:

the Île de France and the rest of the North of France
Normandy and Benelux
France and Great Britain

Amiens is not currently directly on principal European road and rail arteries, such as the A1 motorway and the Paris-Lille TGV train line.
International relations
Twin towns – Sister cities
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in France

Amiens is twinned with:

Germany Dortmund, Germany[7]
Germany Görlitz, Germany
United States Tulsa, USA
United Kingdom Darlington, United Kingdom
Greece Nafplio, Greece


Amiens is served by several motorways

A16 to Calais via Abbeville and Boulogne-sur-Mer
A16 to Paris via Beauvais
A29 to Rouen and Le Havre via Neufchâtel-en-Bray
A29 to Reims via Saint-Quentin and Laon
The proposed A24 autoroute from Amiens to Lille via Doullens was cancelled in 2006.


Amiens has two stations: the Gare d'Amiens (the former Gare du Nord) and the Gare de Saint-Roch (Somme), with connections:

to Lille via Arras and Douai
to Boulogne via Abbeville
to Paris-Nord via Creil or Compiègne
to Reims via Tergnier
to Rouen

The station Gare TGV Haute-Picardie on the TGV line Lille-Paris is reachable by bus from Amiens.

In addition to Glisy aerodrome bordering on the town's eastern edge, there are several airports nearby

Beauvais-Tillé Airport (served by a bus service from Amiens)
Lille Airport (reachable by train or by road using the A29 and A1)
Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (reachable by train or by road using the A29 and A1, or A16 and N104)


The Somme canal runs through the town to the English Channel. This canal is linked to the Canal du Nord (Paris to Lille metropolitan area)
Urban transportation

The town's public transport network is managed by Ametis. It links most of Amiens Metropole's communes. Proposals to build a tram network are under discussion. In 2008 the municipality established Vélam, a system of public rental bicycles similar to those in other European cities.

Studio Orson Welles
Cinema Gaumont Amiens
Ciné St-Leu


Museum of the Hôtel Berny (Arts, History)
Museum of Picardy (Arts, Archeology, Ethnology...)
Museum of Natural History


La Comédie de Picardie
La Maison de la Culture
Chés Cabotans(Puppet show in Picard)
La Maison du Théâtre

Concert halls

The city has a number of concert spaces, mostly small venues. Pubs also host numerous concerts throughout the year.

Le Zénith Amiens
La Lune des Pirates
La Maison de la Culture

le grand wazoo

La Briqueterie

Exhibition halls

Le Safran
Maison de la culture
Archives départementales
Centre Jacques Tati
Maison de l'architecture
La Briqueterie


The city has several schools and colleges

The University of Picardy which has a broad range of courses
Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy
Faculty of Law, Politics and Economics
Faculty of Sciences
IUP MIAGE (computing in companies)
Faculty of Human Sciences, Literature, Languages, Sport Sciences
IUT (Institut Universitaire Technique) of Management, Administration, Computing, Mechanical Engineering, Biological Engineering, Commercial Management.
Faculty of Arts
Free training courses
Preparatory courses for sciences, economics, biology schools and others
ESIEE(Engineering School of Electronics and Electrical Technology)
Business school
ISAM (Institute of Management and Administration)
ESAD (School of Art and Design)
Brevet de technicien supérieur (advanced vocational diploma) in audio-visual methods
School of Nursing
Midwifery college
Physiotherapy and Massage School
Teacher training college


Amiens SC football club

Notable people associated with Amiens

Magnentius 303 – 353, Imperial usurper
Ansgar 801 – 865, 'Apostle to the North'
Peter the Hermit 11th century – 12th century, instigator of the First Crusade
Vincent Voiture 1597–1648, poet and prose writer
Jules Verne 1828–1905, writer
Alfred-Georges Regner 1902–1987, painter-engraver
Antoine Gavory, writer, novelist, and journalist
Princesse Goubo, basketball player
Eric Chaulvet, basketball player
Landry Matondo, footballer
Yann M'Vila, footballer
Yohan M'Vila, footballer
Dorian N'Goma, footballer
Cedric Ouattara, footballer
Yannick Salem, footballer


The Courrier Picard
The Journal des Amienois (JDA) (newspaper of the municipality)
The Fakir
Agir en Picardie (administrative region newspaper)
Vivre en Somme (département newspaper)


France Bleu Picardie
Radio Campus Amiens

TV channels

France 3 Picardie
TV Amiens (Web TV)


Macarons d'Amiens
Chocolate Tuiles
The Summer Rambo apple cultivar that originated near Amiens in the 16th century
Duck pâté
Ficelle Picarde (Picard string), an oven-baked cheese-topped crêpe with ham and mushroom filling

See also

Battle of Amiens (disambiguation page)


^ Placenames of the world: origins and ... – Google Books. Books.google.ca. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
^ a b c d e [1][dead link]
^ Maddicott, John (1994). Simon de Montfort. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 257–8. ISBN 0-521-37493-6.
^ "Translation result for http://www.jules-verne.net/". Babelfish.yahoo.com. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
^ "Le Tourisme dans la Somme". Uk.somme-tourisme.com. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
^ [2][dead link]
^ "List of Twin Towns in the Ruhr District". Twins2010.com. 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009.[dead link]

Directory of City Councils (French)

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