Visit time : half-day.
The Amiens Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in France. You can imagine the majesty of this building, capable of holding the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris – not just once, but twice over. Beyond its outsized dimensions, UNESCO paid tribute to the technical challenge that allowed the construction of the cathedral in just 60 years, providing a unique architectural ensemble for the time. But the Amiens Cathedral also showcases perfectly-preserved artistic treasures : its western facade which dazzles under the evening lights, and its interior that houses many works of art and treasures.
The Amiens Cathedral is one of the largest classic European Gothic churches of the 13th century. Erected mainly between 1220 and 1280, it is notable for the coherence of its layout, the beauty of its three-tier elevation and the fine display of sculptures on the principal facade, the south transept and the choir screen.
From 1292 to 1375, the cathedral was embellished by a series of chapels built between the buttresses of the aisles. At the end of the Middle Ages, it took on the appearance we see today with the spire, the choir screen and the splendid carved wooden canon stalls. The events of the French Revolution hardly damaged the building, which underwent only minor restoration (mainly in the Gallery of the Kings). In addition to its extraordinary, universally recognized 13th century carved decoration, the cathedral houses two extremely rare examples of artistic foundry of the 13th century : the bronze tombs of Geoffroy d'Eu and especially Evrard de Fouilloy, bishop who undertook the reconstruction of the Amiens Cathedral in 1220.
The Amiens Cathedral is a monument that John Ruskin (English artist of the 19th century) had already counted among the great masterpieces of art, and whose influence in the development of architecture and Gothic sculpture was predominant.
The Amiens Cathedral has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1981. It has also been included among the landmarks of the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela since 1998.
Criteria for Selection
Criterion (i): The Amiens Cathedral is the largest church in France in built area and volume enclosed within its walls. It is surpassed only by the Reims cathedral in length and by the Beauvais cathedral in height. Its rigorously logical layout, with the nave and the choir perfectly balanced on either side of the transept, and the bold lightness of its structure that marked a new step towards the mastery of light, are prime examples of the most classic Gothic architecture.
Criterion (ii): The Amiens Cathedral had an important influence on the subsequent development of architecture and monumental sculpture : several architectural solutions used in Amiens announced the advent of a flamboyant style and examples of its influence extend as far as Burgos in Spain.
Source - Unesco / ICOMOS
The present cathedral sits on a site that was home to other religious monuments before its construction, including a Romanesque cathedral dating back to 1152, which was destroyed by fire in 1218. It was Bishop Evrard de Fouilloy who undertook the construction of a new cathedral. He wanted it to be a model unsurpassed among the places of worship of the time, and wanted its sculptures and graphic achievements to tell the stories of the Bible to its visitors. A veritable book of stone and wood, this monumental illustrated novel thus allowed those who could not read to learn about Christianity.
Construction began in 1220. It was first necessary to make enough room to accommodate a building 145 meters long and 70 meters wide. Destruction of some surrounding buildings was necessary. At that time, during the reign of Philip Augustus, Amiens thrived on the economic activity of the region: the draperies of Flanders and the Champagne fairs. Amiens produced the pastel necessary for dyeing cloth. This economic prosperity was a key factor in the success of the monumental project lead by the bishop. Large donations enabled the building to be quickly completed, and in 1230 the nave was already finished. The choir was completed in 1269, and finally the labyrinth was completed in 1288. This was also the official date chosen as the end of construction, though the towers of the facade were not completed until the following century.
Achieving a cathedral of this size in such a short time (just over 60 years) was an extraordinary technical and financial challenge. This is what makes this cathedral unique by its impressive artistic and architectural homogeneity.
During the 14th and 15th centuries, new elements would enrich the cathedral : the side chapels of the nave and the two towers of the west facade were erected. Charles VI married there in 1385. In the early 16th century the magnificent choir stalls were put into place. Over the following centuries the cathedral was converted and embellished.
The events of the French Revolution caused virtually no damage to the building. From 1849 onward, Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879) proceeded in the restoration of the gallery located above the rosetta of the western facade and the top of the north tower. The cathedral was also spared during the two world wars and in particular in May of 1940 when shells and shrapnel showered the city.
40 place Notre-Dame, 80000 Amiens
Website - tel : 03 22 71 60 50.
Opening times: April through September : Monday to Saturday : 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ; Sunday: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
October through March : Monday to Saturday : 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ; Sunday : 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
From June to September, open on Friday and Saturday night during the show "The color cathedral".
Offers well-documented guided tours of the city and the cathedral.
"The cathedral in color" light show (June through September and December)
From June 15th to to September 30th and from December 1st to January 1st: every night on the steps of the cathedral Show times: in June at 10:45 p.m. ; in July at 10:30 p.m. ; in August at 10 p.m. ; in September at 9:45 p.m. ; in December at 7 p.m.
"The cathedral in color" is a moment not to be missed (free admission ; duration: 45 minutes). Taking place on the steps of the cathedral, it restores the cathedral’s facade to its multicolored version of Middle Ages. The result is amazing and allows visitors to realize how the builders aimed to mark the minds of visitors with such bright colors. Today technology makes it possible to rediscover the colorful brilliance of yesteryear thanks to pigments found on the stone. The facade was cleaned by laser, which cleans off impurities without altering the stone or the original colors. With a little help from a computer, the result is exceptional.
Marché sur l’eau
Place Parmentier, along the Somme River, on Saturday mornings. Stands offer regional products, as well as fruits and vegetables from the hortillonneurs, keepers of the floating gardens of Amiens.
Marché of local producers
Rue Léon Blum, on Saturdays mornings.
Marché des halles du Beffroi
Place au fil. Every Wednesday and Saturday.
Getting to Amiens
From Paris : Highway A16, exit Amiens Sud.
From Reims or Rouen: Highway A29, exit Amiens Centre.
Nearby classified sites
Paris : 135 km (84 mi), time : 2 hours
Versailles : 152 km (94 mi), time 1 hour, 50 minutes
Reims: 170 km (105.5 mi), time : 2 hours
Place Fiquet, 80000 Amiens
Site internet - tel : 36 35.
From Paris, Gare du Nord (1 hour, 15 minutes one way)
The city of Amiens is small enough to explore on foot, especially as many streets and squares are now exclusively for pedestrians.
Underground parking : Saint Leu-Cathedral
The same principle as the self-service Vélib' bicycle in Paris. 26 stations offer self-service bicycles around the city.
Sleeping / Eating
The selected accommodations offer quality services at competitive rates, they are considered as references in their respective categories. These addresses are nearby the classified area. The prices shown are for the off season, on the basis of 2 people (d: double, tr : triple, q: quadruple).
Hôtel Victor Hugo
2 Rue de l'Oratoire, 80000 Amiens
Website - tel : 03 22 91 57 91.
Price from : d. €49/ tr. €75.
Hôtel Le Saint Louis **
24 Rue des Otages, 80000 Amiens
Website - tel : 03 22 91 76 03.
Price from : d. €84/ tr. €135.
Hôtel Ibis Styles Cathédrale ***
17-19 Place au Feurre, 80000 Amiens
Website - tel : 03 22 22 00 20.
Price from €69.
Hôtel Marotte *****
3 Rue Marotte, 80000 Amiens
Website - Tel: 03 60 12 50 00.
The selection of restaurants proposed below consists of restaurants that offer a good price/quality value. These addresses are nearby the classified area. “Formule” corresponds to a lunch special with a starter and a main course, or a main course and a dessert. The “menus” usually consist of a starter, a main course and a dessert," for lunch or dinner.
Le Bouchon – specialties from the city of Lyon
10 Rue Alexandre Fatton, 80000 Amiens
Website - tel : 03 22 92 14 32.
"Menu" from €20.
Le Rétroviseur - traditional cuisine
16 Rue des Bondés, 80000 Amiens
Website - Tel: 03 22 91 92 70.
"Lunch Formule" €13. "Dinner Menu" €25.
Le Quai - inventive cuisine
13-15 Quai Bélu, 80000 Amiens
Website - Tel: 03 22 72 10 80.
"Lunch formule" €14. "Dinner menu" from €25.
Les Marissons – cuisine from the market
Rue de la Dodane, 80000 Amiens
Website - tel : 03 22 92 96 66.
"Menu" from €20.50.