Le Vermandois at the sources of the Rivers Somme and Escaut is an area full of surprises in its heritage, local savoir-faire and natural attractions. Saint-Quentin, the most Flemish of the towns of Picardy, has an amazing architectural style ranging from Flamboyant Gothic to Art Deco. It is also the only town in France with a nature reserve in the centre.
Many of the traditional skills of the industrial and textile past can still be found in the Vermandois countryside as can delicious traditional dishes like ‘Ficelle Picarde’ and hotpot.
What to see and do in Saint-Quentin ?
The wonderful architectural heritage of the town makes it a genuine open-air museum with its Gothic basilica, underground passages and dungeons, the Flamboyant Gothic facade of the Hotel de Ville (town hall) and 1920s Art Deco buildings from the reconstruction period after the Great War.
The national nature reserve of ‘Les Marais de l’Isle’, close to the source of the Somme, harbours a rich variety of wildlife - an oasis of biodiversity at the heart of the town.
There are several exceptional museums : the Musée Antoine Lécuyer which features pastel works by Quentin de la Tour, and the Musée des Papillons (Butterfly Museum) at the Espace Saint Jacques. Children and the young at heart will love the Village of Traditional Crafts (Métiers d’Antan) and the Musée « Motobécane » with more than 120 mopeds on display, which is unique in France.
At Fresnoy-le-Grand, the Maison du Textile is a living museum of textile traditions with 28 Jacquard looms.
At Bellicourt, there is a very unusual museum on board an electric barge dating from 1910, one of the last of its kind in activity.
The family home of Henri Matisse, at Bohain-en-Vermandois, traces the artist’s life and his late 19th century youth spent in the hard-working atmosphere of the Matisse seed company.