Picardy, one of the northern regions of France, could be dubbed the “province that almost lost it”, as it came really close to losing its status as administrative unit back in 2009, following a proposed regionalisation reform. It was only due to the vehement opposition of its inhabitants that it managed to keep its status quo. One that was associated with a rather well established heritage of traditions and cultural assets, such as superb places of worship of Gothic inspiration, gourmet food and beer, even music, dancing and sports.
The province of Picardy is further subdivided into three departments: Somme, the capital of which, Amiens, also serves as capital to the region, Oise, and Laon. Most of what is today the Oise department wasn’t really a historical part of Picardy, but rather a XX century addition made when the province was formally established.
The location of Picardy at the very core of western Europe made it the perfect midway point between such early metropolises as London, Amsterdam or Paris, and, as such, has had more than its share of being the subject of heated disputes. The British, the Habsburgs, the Spanish, and the French all took turns, within the last ten hundred years, in claiming ownership over various parts of modern-era Picardy. Which, naturally, resulted in the area becoming the scene to numerous bloody battles, such as the two most often mentioned by historians, the battle of Crécy in 1346 and the equally infamous one of Somme more than five hundred years later.
However, despite the wars, Picardy turned out to be quite wealthy thanks to the high productivity of its farms, benefiting from fertile soil on a flat landscape. This, in turn, resulted in prosperous residents coming together in urban settlements that became the towns and cities of today. Not surprising for a time when religion played a major role in people’s lives, a significant amount of this wealth was invested in the building of beautiful churches, cathedrals, and basilicas that have survived to this day and which, along with the picturesque red brick houses in the rural regions, attract visitors from all corners of the world.
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