Amiens Free Day.
Today was spent catching up on washing, seeing the sights of Amiens and, for some, even more shopping because they might run out of H & M shops. Wait until the girls get to Ieper!!!
Oh my God!!! 3 hours to do the washing was ridiculous. It was freezing in the laundramat. Luckily Marni and I had the great idea of sitting in the driers!!!!
Today was a day off from timetables and commemorations and the group could spend their time as they saw fit. I really like Amiens and even though it may have some less attractive parts there are still many aspects which I find quite lovely. The town centre sprawls across a number of squares and intersecting main roads with shopping malls to keep the most ardent of our retail experts engaged! A couple of the girls wanted to walk the back streets with me following parts of the storyline of Sebastian Faulks’ epic novel ‘Birdsong’. I introduced the book to them yesterday when we were at Thiepval memorial and this morning I took them to the beginning of the novel in where the main character Stephen Wraysford comes to Amiens in 1910.
‘The Boulevard Du Cange was a broad, quiet street that marked the eastern flank of the city of Amiens…The Azaires’ house showed a strong, formal front towards the road from behind iron railings…The slate roof plunged in conflicting angles to cover the irregular shape of the house. Beneath one of them a dormer window looked out on the boulevard.’ (pages 3 – 4 ‘BIRDSONG’ )
Our little walking group made its way behind the Amiens Notre Dame Cathedral and we came upon streets that lined the canals just as they were explained in the book. I read a couple of passages to the kids and then we made our way across to the Saint Lue area also featured on the story. During the time of the war Amiens was a major communications centre with the railway links being the key to the town’s strategic importance. The Saint Leu region would have been a thriving sector with many of its canals complimenting the transport network provided by the rail system explaining why both the Allies and the Germans regraded Amiens as a significant place to control. Today this is a centre of cafes and restaurants and in the warmer months families and visitors flock to these canals and water gardens for picnics, social meetings and leisure activities. It is one of the gems of this town.