Our second day we are exploring Amiens with Atlas Obscura. Instead of us getting on and off the bike every five minutes, today is going to be a bit easier, ride into town and then walk around exploring.
Michele is a huge fan of Atlas Obscura and regularly checks to see what quirky things there are to visit. Using Atlas Obscura we’ve found the Shell House in Margate, Ossaries in Portugal and the Novdevichye Cemetery to name a few. Atlas Obscura was to lead us to Jules Verne’s grave.
At Cimetière de la Madeleine, a huge inner city cemetery in Amiens we stopped to visit the tomb of famous science fiction author, Jules Verne who died in Amiens in 1905. As a child I loved Jules Verne’s stories 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Journey To the Centre of The Earth. They were just fabulous and I wish that I could read the original stories in French. When his stories were translated to English the stories were transformed into children’s books, however in original form they are for adults. His tomb is to be seen to be believed. It’s the shrouded figure of Jules Verne breaking open the marble cover and emerging from the grave. The sculptor used Jules Verne’s death mask to make the head. It’s a pretty popular place for science fiction nerds to visit and whilst we were there a few groups filed in and out.
Despite all the money as the families have died out many of the crypts are being slowly reclaimed by nature. Something which we pondered over.
In the centre of Amiens finding a parking spot near the Cathedral wasn’t a problem and nearby the visitor centre provided us with a map.
Believe it or not but Amiens cathedral is actually twice the size of the famous Notre Dame de Paris . It’s also hard to believe but in 1918 Amiens and the cathedral were only 13 km’s behind the battle lines of the Western Front. The bishop and the locals credit the Australians as saviours of the town and cathedral. In one of the chapels hangs the Australian presented to the cathedral by General Sir William Birdwood.
Also in the Cathedral hangs the French commemoration plaque honouring Australia & the contribution of the A.I.F. in the winning of WW1. There’s also plaques honouring the Canadians, Americans, British, and New Zealanders who also gave so much.
One of the reasons we visited the Cathedral was to see John the Baptist’s head…..yes sadly there was a bizarre trade in body parts of Saints over the years. All over Europe you can find fingers, leg bones and the highlight (for Michele anyway) would be John the Baptist’s head , sadly we discovered that this is not on ‘display’ all the time so this statue was the closest we got.
The rest of the Cathedral was beautiful though and well worth seeing
Trying to find somewhere to watch the rugby world cup became a challenge. There’s an Aussie pub near the Cathedral who weren’t playing it even though Australia were playing Wales. Instead they were playing French soccer, how very un-Australian. Even the Irish pub was closed? An Irish pub closed at 6 o’clock, what the?
Eventually we gave up and caught up with our friends Val and Sandra from Perth, who are touring Europe, at their hotel. As we were walking through the mall the insurance broker had the game on TV so we were able to get a score update. We would’ve loved to set up some chairs outside their window to watch the game as it turned out to be a nail biter.
Instead we found a nice Italian restaurant near the cathedral to enjoy a nice meal and a catch-up of all Sandra and Vals travels. Those two are awesome having just spent three weeks on a bus traipsing around Europe and still had plenty of energy.
It was a nice night out with lots of laughs and so great to be speaking our own language again. By jingo riding back to Courcelles was hard going. It was freezing cold and the headlight on the bike is next to useless at night.
Tomorrow I’m ditching Michele so she can have a girls day and I can do some more exploring across the Somme.