The 'Hortillonnages', a maze of floating gardens
- 300hectares of gardens
- 65km of 'rieux' (water channels)
- 7'hortillons' (market gardeners)
Immerse yourself in nature
on the edge of the valley
With its 300 hectares of water gardens, Amiens is known as the "Venice of the North".
In the old days they were just market gardens, growing leeks, cabbages and carrots for the townspeople.
Today only a handful of 'hortillons' (market gardeners) remain to earn a living cultivating the dark and fertile soil of the Hortillonnages.
Every Saturday they sell their produce at a water market in the Saint-Leu district. The place to go and buy good fresh vegetables for making the famous Hortillonnages soup. On the 3rd Sunday in the month the market gardeners dress in traditional costume and go down the Somme, as in former times, in their 'barques à cornet' (boats with one raised pointed end). When they reach the Quai Bélu they sell their vegetables on the Place Parmentier, across the river.
Many of the plots have become pleasure gardens for townspeople seeking outdoor space in which to relax. Families and friends come here on Sundays for a picnic, barbecue or to go fishing.
along the 'rieux'
65 kilometres of 'rieux' - the local word for water channels flowing around the plots – along which you can travel by boat. You can choose between a traditional 'barque à cornet' (with one raised pointed end) with a boatman/guide who can tell you all about the history of the gardens or a cultural trip in an electric boat through the 'Art, Villes et Paysage' Festival.
The trip lasts 2 hr 30 min (no need to recharge the battery) during which you can go from islet to islet and admire artistic and landscape creations; works of modern art, installations scattered over the Etang de Clermont.
'Barque à cornet' trip Pier at 54 boulevard Beauvillé Tel.: 03 22 92 12 18
'Art, Villes et Paysages' Festival Pier at the Port à Fumier at Camon Tel.: 06 74 88 38 58
You can now spend the night in the Hortillonnages…
Try something a little out of the ordinary and spend the night in the gardens in one of the charming, rustic cabin-houses belonging to 'D’une île à l’Autre'. Laure will lend you bikes, a boat and fishing rods, along the tow path. Tel.: 06 16 89 19 87
D'une île à l'autre's website
Or choose one of the gîtes owned by Hubert, a bric-à-brac dealer, passionately interested in art, décor and bric-à-brac: Comme une Parenthèse, rue Voyelle – Tel.: 06 08 77 99 28
Alternatively you just enjoy the setting while you have lunch at the Vert Galant on the tow path. Its terrace overlooks the 'rieux' and there are boats for hire – Tel.: 03 22 92 04 27.
A little further up the tow path you can hire electric boats.
'Au Fil de l’Eau' café – Tel.: 03 22 91 43 22