Picardy has a lot going for it, not least the fact that it remains somewhat undiscovered by the masses! It’s within easy reach of the northern ferry ports and offers great holiday destinations at non-touristy prices. Picardy is made up of three departments, the Oise, the Aisne and the Somme whose capital Amiens is also the regional capital. It’s also close enough to Paris to make day trips to the city if you wish.
The region is obviously most famous for its World War 1 sites, including museums and memorials. But it is also full of stunning, deserted beaches, dunes and meadows just made for exploring, alongside huge forests and stunning chateaux.
For beautiful beaches, head to the Bay of Somme. Here you’ll find seven beach resorts that all offer various activities such as swimming, kite surfing, sand yachting and sailing catamarans. If you’re lucky, you may also spot seals! Along this stretch of coast is one of Picardy’s most beautiful towns Mers-les-Bains, with 300 historic Belle Epoque-style vacation villas that were built during the 19th century for wealthy Parisians.
If you can tear yourself away from the coast, Amiens is well worth a visit with its UNESCO listed Gothic cathedral, waterside medieval houses and famous puppet theatre, Chés Cabotans. You can explore Amiens’ canals by motorised punts and view the pretty market gardens at the same time. Chantilly, famous for its cream and lace is home to the Chateau de Chantilly, where kids are sure to love the horse museum with live equestrian performances. The huge surrounding forests are full of wildlife and miles of wonderful cycling tracks.
Picardy is also home to Parc Astérix which, although little known by the Brits, is one of France’s most visited theme parks. The park brings to life the world of Asterix the Gaul and offers plenty of rollercoasters, water rides and various shows. Younger children under 12 will also enjoy Mer de Sable in Ermenonville – a wild-west theme park. There are different zones to visit, themed by desert, jungle and gold rush, with each having shows and rides. There’s also an excellent rodeo show!
Brittany Ferries offer regular sailings from Portsmouth to Le Havre and this is one of the cheapest ways to get to the region. Alternatively fly to one of Paris’ airports with airlines such as EasyJet, Flybe or Jet2 and then take the TGV to Amiens.
Family friendly campsites
Pas-de-Calais, Guînes, la Bien Assise
Camping la Bien Assise campsite is set in beautiful countryside on the edge of Guînes Forest and is located close to the ferry ports. Located in the grounds of an ancient chateau, the former stables have been converted into a shop, bar and traditional restaurant serving gourmet fare. Children will love the pool complex, complete with water slides and the extensive facilities including tennis, mini golf, pool tables, table tennis and basketball court. Explore the forest on foot or by bike, or take the ten minute walk into the town of Guînes.