Picardy is just a short hop from several Channel ferry ports and offers lots of scope for all ages to get close to nature. These factors combined with its non-touristy prices makes it a great place for low-key family holidays, but also one close enough to Paris to make day-trips into the French capital a breeze.
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With older children, visit some of Picardy's world-famous World War I sites. With younger ones, discover the Bay of Somme, a beautiful wilderness of fresh air, endless deserted beaches, dunes and meadows just made for exploring, on foot, by bike or canoe, by boat, or even by land yacht. The Marquenterre bird sanctuary is a highlight of family holidays here.
Tear yourself away from wild nature to visit the Somme’s main city of Amiens with its UNESCO listed Gothic cathedral, its waterside medieval houses, and a number of sites associated with science fiction author Jules Verne. Amiens’ scenic Hortillonages is a very pretty area of market gardens crisscrossed by canals that you can explore by motorized punts or barques à cornet, and there’s also a famous puppet theatre, Chés Cabotans d’Amiens.
Head for the Oise département, home to the very Gallic Parc Astérix, with rides and attractions in five lands: Ancient Gaul, Roman Empire, Ancient Greece, Vikings, and ‘Through History’. Also in the Oise, Chantilly is home to the Potager des Princes - lovely gardens with rare and exotic gardens, various animals, open-air theatre and children's activities including gardening workshops.
In the Aisne département, visit farms galore and enjoy treetop adventure courses and horse-riding.
Farm produce is a highlight of mainly rural Picardy, so as in the rest of France, you’ll have little trouble finding great fresh food for family holidays, whether it’s on the menu of small-town bistros or at local markets or farm-shops/producers where you can browse excellent local ingredients to take home and cook in your self-catering accommodation.By Rhonda Carrier
Though it’s not primarily a beach destination (it has only a short coastline, though is within easy reach of beaches in other regions), Picardy is best visited in summer to take advantage of its wealth of outdoors activities perfect for family holidays.
Ferries are the natural means for getting to Picardy, since you can bring your own car – ideal for family holidays. Amiens is just over 1hr 30mins south of the main ferry crossing hub of Calais in the Pas-de-Calais, and a little closer to Dieppe in Normandy.
Trains are another option, but you will need to hire a car to explore the region.
Note that Ryanair’s flights to ‘Paris’ actually land at Beauvais in the Oise département.
Since it’s not a tourist hotspot, Picardy is a great base for family holidays on a budget, with transport costs kept to a minimum and a good choice of self-catering accommodation where you can save money by eating at home or making picnics to take out with you.
Holiday villages, apartment resorts and campsites are the mainstay of family accommodation in Picardy, although you might also choose to stay on a farm. See also our feature Glamping and Unusual Camping in Northern France.
Direct access to the beach, indoor and outdoor pools, water sports and a handy bike hire service, in Picardy.
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