If there is an advantage to being alone – and I mean really ALONE as I am here in France right now – it is that I can come and go as I please. I can decide to do something, change my mind halfway through and do something else, or just figure it out as I go with no one else’s opinion to consider. (I am “looking on the bright side” here, because I have to be okay with being ALONE all the time. I won’t go into a lot more details about that now – maybe later).
Anyway, I woke up Sunday morning to yet another beautiful day in Amiens. I have been assured repeatedly that the weather we’ve been having is exceptionelle since it is usually very gray, chilly, and rainy this time of year. I was going to take the bus downtown as usual, but then thinking about having an entire day with nothing to do I figured I’d walk. (Again, I didn’t need to spend one precious second of my day discussing this with someone else – I just decided to walk and did it.)
This is the view near where I live and if you were to zoom in on this photo, right smack in the middle you’d see the spire of the Cathedral which is pretty much the center of Amiens and is where I was headed. This spire, by the way, is like a lighthouse to navigationally challenged folk like myself. You can see it almost anywhere in Amiens and you’ll never get lost if you know where the Cathedral is.
There is nothing I love more than visiting a museum. I’ve been here more than six weeks and I’ve been “saving” this visit for a day when I could really take my time and enjoy it – kind of putting it off as something to look forward to. Today was finally the day. With my carte étudiante it only cost 3,50€ which is a pretty good deal.
First of all, the building itself is fairly stunning. Its not as old as it looks, having been built in the mid-nineteeth century. Its Second Empire style of architecture clearly mirrors that of the Louvre – it is somewhat of a “mini-Louvre,” in fact. Wikipedia tells me it is one of the largest regional museums in France. I enjoyed the building itself almost as much as the exhibits.
The basement housed archeological exhibits. There was a very impressive array of artifacts from the Iron and Bronze Ages (items excavated locally for the most part), ancient Greek and Egyptian artifacts such as jewelry, vases, pottery, sculpture, and even a mummy!
The main level of the museum housed a sculpture exhibit. Normally marble sculptures are not on my must-see list, I can take them or leave them. But I actually enjoyed this exhibit. One I particularly liked was this:
La fin d’un rêve
The girl’s expression is so real and lifelike, that I almost felt that I was “intruding” when I got up this close to photograph her face!
Although I took dozens of photos, I’ll only include a couple more highlights. For example, this is the original center stone of the labyrinth floor in the Amiens Cathedral from the 13th century. (The labyrinth in the Cathedral now is a restoration.)
Here is an ancient Greek urn that I found particularly interesting – and this is just a sample of what I saw. This is dated 8th Century BC.
I’d like to take a little aside here and note that Amiens, in spite of being a modestly sized town, can boast of a major attraction such as this museum in addition to obvious sites like the largest Gothic Cathedral in France, the hortillonages, and the home of Jules Verne. But what is surprising to me is that many French people have never been here! I’m basing this on the number of people living in France who have told me, “Oh yes, I know of Amiens but I have never visited it”. Also, every American I’ve met back home who has toured France has skipped Amiens as well. Considering it is only a one hour direct train trip from Paris, I find it amazing that this isn’t a major tourist destination.