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Somme ValleyheritageHistory
©Nicolas Bryant

For heritage buffs

  • 600 000 YEARS OF HISTORY

Cradle of archaeology


The Somme was the birthplace of the famous pre-historian, Jacques Boucher-de-Perthes, and the pioneer of aerial archaeology, Roger Agache. The department is home to major archaeology sites from pre historic times to the Middle Ages, by way of the Gallic and Gallo-Roman periods.

Samara is the iconic site at the heart of the valley! Here you can experience life in prehistoric times, going back over 600,000 years of human history, from the discovery of fire to the Gallo-Roman period. Vivid reconstructions of settlements, surprising organised activities and demonstrations of period techniques (pottery, flints, forging, etc.).

Uniforme, Historial de la grande guerre, Somme© Nicolas Bryant
La Chaussée Tirancourt Samara, Somme©Samara
Eaucourt-sur-Somme chateau velos.jpg©SommeTourisme-DM
Château de Picquigny ©Nicolas Bryant
Pont-Rémy©Les Globe-Blogueurs

From the history books


In the east of the department the river Somme flows through places forever associated with the terrible Battle of the Somme. The land suffered enormously and traces of the fighting can still be seen today: trenches, shell holes.

Vestiges are still visible on the Montagne de Frise site where the famous French writer, Blaise Cendrars, took part in the fighting. Péronne and its famous World War 1 museum are also located beside the river. The 'Historial de la Grande Guerre' is a major WW1 museum, presenting people and life on the front line and behind the lines, the causes, course and consequences of this conflict and the views of the different warring nations.

Today a little steam train puffs its way alongside the canal through the countryside. During the Battle of the Somme this railway line was used to bring men, weapons and goods up to the front line.

"At the Bois de la Vache, with its wooden horn, we held a little position only separated from the little German position by a few sand bags." Blaise Cendrars
Montagne de Frise©Nicolas Bryant
Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne © Nicolas Bryant
Petit Train de la Haute-Somme ©tvergoz-ftommassini
Long, vallée de Somme ©Nicolas Bryant

Charming villages


On the banks of the river Somme you come across some the loveliest villages in the department, particularly Long, which is a real favourite. It boasts a wealth of heritage: delightful stone and brick chateau with superb listed greenhouses right beside the water. It has a hydroelectric power station, a fine example of 20th century industrial heritage, which enabled Long to be one of the first villages in France to have electric power. Also worth a visit: lock-keeper's house, church, Mairie.

Other villages are equally interesting: Pont-Rémy, a village with 10 bridges over the river, ruined chateau and Les Ambianis archaeology site. Eaucourt-sur-Somme, village with a famous mayor, Henri Sannier. Be sure to see the mill, ruined castle and the 'rouissoirs' (retting pits) used to ret the flax. Picquigny, for the remains of its medieval castle where you can enjoy an escape game that takes you into the underground passages.

Cathédrale d'Amiens ©Samuel Crampon

Religious heritage


Gothic architecture forms yet another rich part of the Somme valley's heritage. Be sure to visit the abbey church of Saint Pierre at Corbie where the famous Carolingian minuscule was created – the basis of today's handwriting. If possible try to take part in a dramatised tour with the abbey's ghosts as your guides and try out the virtual reality tour.

Don't miss a tour of the cathedral of Notre-Dame d'Amiens, one of the largest and most complete examples of Gothic architecture, classed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Last but not least, head west to Abbeville where the collegiate church of Saint Vulfran is a masterpiece of flamboyant Gothic.