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DESTINATION INSIGHT

Tuesday, 30 June, 2015, 16 : 00 PM [IST]

Bienvenue to Picardy

Paris is on the bucket list of every avid traveller. Yet, going beyond the iconic and well-known tourist destinations in France to discover hidden treasures like the region of Picardy - a short drive away, promises to satisfy the pangs of wanderlust, says Subhash Motwani, Director, Namaste Tourism
PicardyBeing a part of the FAM trip organised by the French Tourism Board, before and after the Rendez-vous en France that was held in Paris during the first week of April, I had an opportunity to visit the region of Picardy.

Picardy - A Hidden Treasure
Just a 45-minute trip by road from Paris and 20 minutes from Charles de Gaulle Airport, one can discover the Picardy region. My visit to Picardy was one of the highlights of my visit to France earlier this year. We already have guests going to Chantilly for overnight stays. Chantilly is known for its lace and cream as well as for its castle and equestrian show. One can also do day trips from Paris, but the place has so much to offer that a day trip would not do justice to the Equestrian Capital of France.

Lovers of landscape, countryside, palaces, and gardens will enjoy their stay in the region of Picardy. The Chateau of Chantilly is truly spectacular and the highlight of the visit to the Chateau was the amazing art collection, next only to the Louvre Museum, the Capitaniere, which is the place where the original Chantilly cream was made. We witnessed a demo of the Chantilly cream preparation, as well as that of the fine cuisine that the restaurant had to offer.

PicardyThe Tiara Mont Royal hotel, in the midst of the forest, is an ideal place to stay for honeymooners as well as families. Not too far is the famous Astérix Park (Parc Astérix), which incidentally is in Picardy. A visit to the Pierrefonds Forest and Hobbit house and tree houses, as well as a day trip to the Imperial Palace of Compiegne, was impressive. The Chateau de Compiegne, which is en route to Reims and Champagne Country, used to be the summer resident of the kings, as well as the place of coronation of kings in the 13th century. You can experience a bit of Champagne at Chateau Thierry, which is on the Picardy-Champagne border. Here, we also indulged in champagne tasting with Indian food at Champagne Pannier, and were taken on a guided tour of the cellars.

Amiens, the capital of the Somme district of Picardy, is located at 120 km from Paris. Amiens is where renowned novelist and poet, Jules Verne spent 20 years. The Jules Verne Museum is situated here. The highlight of Amiens is the visit to the Cathedral, which is one of the largest gothic churches of the 13th century, standing at 42 mtr in height. Another highlight of Amiens, which is just one hour, ten minutes from Paris by train, is the Floating Gardens. A boat trip along the Floating Gardens is a must-do for exploring this ‘Venice of France’ on a gondola ride. Amiens is great for shopping too. Here, you can find brands at much cheaper rates than in Paris. For those pressed for time, a day trip to Amiens may be worthwhile to get a glimpse of this wonderful region.

From Amiens, you can also visit one of the most beautiful bays in the world, Baie de Somme, and chug along in a vintage train from the seaside town of Saint Valery sur Somme.

PicardyItinerary Tips
While Paris should definitely be on your agenda of travel to France, you can extend two or three nights in Alsace, which is just 2 hours 30 minutes’ away by train. Picardy is just 45 minutes from Paris. To culminate a French holiday, the ideal thing to do is to stay a few nights at a Chateau Hotel or enjoy dinner at a two-star Michelin restaurant in Chantilly. The Charles de Gaulle Airport is just 20 minutes away from Chantilly.

Amiens is perfect for unique experiences, be it a gondola ride on the ‘Venice of France’, a visit to the largest gothic cathedral in France, shopping, or a day trip to one of the most picturesque bays of the world. A one-hour-15-minute train journey from Paris can help you explore one of the finest cities in Picardy and you can also go for a day trip to the Champagne Country side by visiting Chateau Thierry in Picardy and visit one of finest cellars of the region.

PicardyAdventure seekers can stay in the Pierrefonds region at either a Hobbit House or a treetop lodge, which can be truly unique and experiential, and at the same time visit the Pierrefonds Castle.

Equestrian lovers will enjoy Chantilly for the horse show and museum. Families with children can have a memorable experience at Parc Astérix.

The region of Picardy is good for honeymooners, families with friends, as well as for a MICE groups who wish to have a wow factor included, without paying an astronomical price. There are quite a few Indian restaurants available here. One can get to Picardy from Brussels too, as Amiens is just two hours by train from Brussels via Lille.

Keshwar BhagatKeshwar Bhagat
Promotions Manager-India,
Atout France

Picardy is a destination where one can relax. One can easily spend four nights in Picardy, which tour operators are already promoting, as an add-on to Paris.

The destination is suitable for FITs, honeymooners, the young adventure-seekers, and is great as a family destination as well. Kids especially will be thrilled to visit the Parc Astérix, which has the highest roller coasters, and the novelty of the cream-making workshop in Chantilly is not to be missed. One can enjoy the thrill of living in a tree house or do a Hobbitt House stay. Relax and unwind on a slow boat ride in Amiens, while the awe and wonder of the many chateaux lingers on with the other memories you have gathered in Picardy.


France vs Competitive
Set France offers diverse experiences - gastronomy and wine, castle stays, culture, art, scenic drives, stunning landscapes, snowcapped mountains, great shopping options, and unique adventure experiences. Vis-à-vis other destinations, France has excellent connectivity across Europe. It is a perfect destination with direct flights on Air France and can be easily reached via Brussels or Zurich. With the easing of visa processes, it is a destination that will grow in popularity as the discerning Indian traveller is looking at varied experiences and wishes to explore France beyond Paris.

The Aiguille du Midi, Montblanc, Chamonix is easily accessible for skiing from Geneva, and the Cote d’Azur offers lifestyle and amazing Mediterranean experiences all year round and is well connected with medieval villages such as Eze and accessible from Provence - Aix and Avignon. It is possible to undertake day trips or even overnights to explore UNESCO sites like Pont du Gard or the lavender fields in Provence in August. Mulhouse is close to Basel in Switzerland, and Strasbourg can be reached either from Paris or from Frankfurt in less than three hours. Day trips or overnights in Picardy are a must to explore the hidden secrets of the north, while for lovers of art and nature, exploring Normandy, including Mont-Saint- Michel and Giverny, is a must.

Offering a large portfolio of destinations within France will certainly provide travel agents and tour operators a competitive edge
 
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