I visited Amiens in June. I knew that visit of the cathedral would be an amazing experience. However, Amiens gave me one more experience, much more unexpected. Despite the fact I have never been before in this city I revived my memories on childhood and hunger for adventure and travel spirit woke up in me 🙂
Cathedral Notre-Dame in Amiens, France
We parked our car in an underground parking not far from the cathedral in the city centre. It was just few minutes walk to the greatest tourist magnet of this city. I crossed the bridge over small river, continued under old brick house so typical in Picardie region and suddenly I found myself on the side of the cathedral. After two days of raining grey clouds disappeared. Sun showed at the right time. It was peaceful Wednesday morning. Nothing indicated that it was working day. Besides us, only two other people were on the vast square in front of the cathedral. They were practicing yoga in a small rectangle marked by white chalk on stone tiles. It is worth to visit sightseeings as soon as possible in the morning 🙂
I stood there with astonishment in front of 800 years old gothic cathedral. How could people build something so enormous, so majestic in those times? In my head I travelled by time machine into 13th century and tried to imagine those complicated wooden constructions, cranes and rollers that picked heavy sandstone bricks. I reckoned the sounds of hammers and saws which had to sound from dawn till dusk for decades.
How many people built this masterpiece? The highest nave in France reaches to 42,30 meters and the tower reaches to 112 meters. I saw gothic architectural elements everywhere – broken vaults, long stained-glass windows and narrow pillars.
In addition to various statues, stained glass windows, paintings, and tombs you can find here sacred relic – the skull of St. John Baptist, and also tomb of bishop Ervard de Fouilly, on whose order construction of the cathedral began. In the inner front of the cathedral just behind the altar a memorial plaque is installed. It is dedicated to Australian soldiers who died during WWI in the battle for the liberation of Amiens.
Jules VERNE and his house in Amiens
I wasn’t grown up in Amiens but I revived my memories on childhood heree. It’s beacause with Amiens Jules VERNE (1828 – 1905) is connected. One of the most famous and between young people still favourite writer, science-fiction pioneer, adventurer and traveler.
Memories on childhood
Who doesn’t know at least one of his work. Author of dozens of stories, novellas and novels. I remember Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Five Weeks in a Balloon, Children of Captain Grant or Around the World in 80 Days. Many of his works were also made into movies, for example Around the World in 80 days with Jackie Chan or Journey to Mysterious Island with Dwayne Johnson.
How to get from cathedral to House of Jules Verne
Jules Verne lived in Amiens for 34 years and is buried in local cemetery. In the house where museum is now Jules Verne used to live for 18 years (1882 – 1900). It’s not far from the cathedral. Pleasant walk through historical city centre takes only 15 minutes.
House of Jules Verne
I don’t often go to museums. But this one I was looking forward to visit. Jules Verne was great traveler and adventurer. And thus were also his novels, adventurous and travel. I did not expect that this house amaze me more than cathedral. I spent here twice as much time. Maybe because I’ve already been to several cathedrals and only one house of Jules Verne 🙂
2 rue Charles-Dubois
You will find House of Jules Verne on this address: 2 rue Charles-Dubois. Reconstructed brick building with several floors would not be different from others in the street. What differs this house is the narrow tower that looks like an observatory. So look for house with round tower 🙂
After paying admission 7,5 EUR per adult I entered the first room – the winter garden. Under the greenhouse with checkered floor part of the room was occupied by pots with exotic plants. On the walls posters with writer’s works are displayed.
From winter garden I continued to the dining room. It was quite well thought by Verne. After good lunch he could go to the winter garden to relax. Dining room – this is how I reckoned room from 19th century. Walls decorated with massive wood, windows covered with curtains of wine colour that hinder the sunlight to enter the room, ceiling panelled with wooden cassettes and beautiful fireplace. Dining room is the only room in the house that preserved original furniture.
I proceeded to another room. Firstly to living room which was in completely different colours. Prevailing white and gold colour, more bright as the sunlight coming from outside through translucent curtains lighted the entire room. Photographs of the family hanging on the walls with small descriptions.
I entered the so called Hetzel’s room on the first floor. Pierre-Jules Hetzel was publisher and friend of Jules Verne. After publishing Five Weeks in a Balloon Hetzel concluded with Jules Verne contract for 20 years. In this room original published books by Verne are displayed in showcases. Every single book beautifully designed. I would be grateful if covers of books were so perfectly designed nowadays 🙂
Spiral stairs took me to another interesting room on the second floor. I had the feeling that I had found myself on a boat or submarine. The windows facing to the yard were round and deep. The room wood-panelled in red. Bridge with rudder in the front. This is the reconstruction of Verne’s yacht called Saint-Michel III. However, to me it reminded me rather submarine. Jules Verne wrote Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea in this house and maybe inspired by this room when thinking of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus.
From “submarine” I headed to another, this time tremendous room. This room used to be the library of Jules Verne which in the past housed 12 000 books. Today there are only few. You will find in this room huge map of the world with marked routes of Jules Verne cruises. Well, he traveled very nice piece of planet Earth. In the other part of the room nice globe with maps lies.
Another stairs up to the ceiling. Here, in the dark various requisites from puppet theatres, plays, or posters from movies based on writer’s novels, are displayed.
Crossing the exhibition I got to the door to the tower. No, it was not observatory as I had thought. In the tower there were stairs leading down to the beginning of the tour, to the winter garden. In the lobby books by Jules Verne are sold. I couldn’t help myself and bought book Tour du monde en 80 jours for 8 euros. Now, I will have to clean dust out of my French 🙂
Museums are sometimes boring. But this is not the case. Visit of House of Jules Verne was worth every cent. I strongly recommend to visit this museum to everyone who likes works of Jules Verne and wants to revive memories on childhood. But also to everyone who has adventurous and travel spirit 🙂
Amiens, although only for one day, was hilarious trip and this city is worth to visit 🙂