With older children studying war at school and/or intrigued by the 1914–18 centenary, visit some of Picardy's world-famous World War I sites. Options include not just museums and memorials but the chance to see intact trenches and walk in the footsteps of soldiers.
With younger kids, 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, as is seal-spotting.
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’. Oise is also the place to find the extraordinary Château de Pierrefonds, the filming location for the BBC's Merlin and a fabulous setting for family adventures and children's activities.
Also in the Oise, Chantilly, famed for its cream and lace, is home to the Potager des Princes - lovely gardens with rare and exotic plants, various animals, open-air theatre and children's activities including gardening workshops. The Potager is part of the Château de Chantilly, where kids will also love the horse museum with its live equestrian performances. Additionally, Chantilly has an art museum rated second only to the Louvre for the value and quality of its works.
The huge forests of Chantilly and that of Compiègne were once royal hunting grounds and are still full of wildlife and mile upon mile of cycling tracks.
In the Aisne département, visit farms galore and enjoy treetop adventure courses and horse-riding.