The Location of the Region of Picardy
The modern day region of Picardy [Picardie] was, before the last Ice Age, attached to the chalk lands of southern England. It is located in north-central France, just south of the English Channel and the French region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais. Its three départements are:
In spite of its battle weary history, Picardy is a land of peace and tranquility. It has an unspoiled, beautiful and romantic shoreline alongside the English Channel, its forests and plateaus are restful and verdant, and the flow of its rivers and canals are virtually hypnotic and the inspiration of a treasure trove of French artists and writers.
The ancient French province of Picardy was divided to make the two modern regions,
Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy. Parts of
Île-de-France were added to Picardy.
Amiens was the capital of old Picardy and it remains the capital of the modern Picardy.
Picardy borders the region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais to the north and the Ardennes forest of
Belgium to the northeast, the region of Champagne-Ardennes to the east, the Île-de-France region to the south, the region of
Upper-Normandy [Haute-Normandie] to the west and the Channel to the northwest. In other terms, Picardy’s northern border runs from the Channel, northeast of
Abbeville, southeast by east to the Belgium frontier and the Ardennes. The border then turns southwest by south to just south and east of
Château-Thierry where it turns east by northeast to run to a point near Charles de Gaulle airport at Roissy. From Roissy, it turns north to the Channel, to a point southwest of Abbeville. Picardy’s three départements are: Aisne, Oise and Somme.
The History of Picardy
During the Roman period, Picardy was part of the province of Belgica Secunda. The Franks occupied Picardy during the 5th century, when it was divided between six feudal counts. The area of the old province of Picardy first became a part of France in the late 12th century when
Philip II Augustus was king. For a time, during the 15th century, starting in 1477, the area was a part of
Burgundy. During this period, it was the object of invasions by the Austrian Netherlands and by the Spanish.
During World War I, Picardy was the scene the battles of the Somme, several of the most costly battles of the war. Agincourt, Crecy and
Saint-Quentin are also well-known, poppy-strewn battlefields. Picardy was also the scene of bloody fighting during World War II.
Picardy’s main appeal is its inspired cathedrals in Amiens,
Senlis. These superb edifices are a constant reminder that Picardy, and Ile-de-France, was the cradle of Gothic architecture. To the south, its châteaux
Compiègne are nestled in a forest that once extended from
Paris to the eastern frontier.
Also known for its dairy and beef cattle, Picardy is an area where intensive vegetable cultivation is carried on, especially in the high yielding, arable land of Somme River valley. Here, market gardeners intensively cultivate the soil of tiny plots that are linked by a network of narrow canals. Crops such as fodder, sugar beets and wheat are also grown.
The dunes and marshes along the majestic Somme Bay harbors a bird sanctuary. The region is also host to a remarkable range of fauna and flora.
The Gastronomy of Picardy
Picardy offers a choice of regional specialties: There is cheese from the Thiérache region, Chantilly cream, cider from Bray, ficelle picarde [savoury picardy style pancakes], Flamique à Porions [leek tart], foie gras [duck pâté] from Amiens, gateau battu [a sort of bread-cake], lamb from the salt marches, macaroons, pork rinds from Saint-Quentin, rissoles from Laon and tart au Maroilles [cheese tart].
The Economic Activity of Picardy