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Regions of France - Picardie

Picardie stretches from the long sand beaches of the Somme estuary in the west to the vast forests and pastures of the Thiérache in the east and down to the chateaux of Chantilly or Pierrefonds near the Paris area and vineyards on the border with Champagne to the south.

One of the oldest provinces in France, Picardie is steeped in history. The battle of the Somme in WW1 made the beaches here famous in the last century, but they have featured in previous historic moments, such as William the Conquerer setting sail and the Battle of Crécy.

Consisting of three departments, the Oise (60), capital Beauvais; the Aisne (02) capital Laon, and the Somme (60), whose capital Amiens, is also the regional capital. This mild-mannered region has lots to explore. The picturesque village of Gerberoy in the Oise is worth a visit, along with the gothic cathedral at Amiens, and the numerous châteaux, churches and abbeys in the region.

Lying in the historic centre of action of western Europe, in the triangle between Paris, Amsterdam and London, Picardie is an area with a very rich history and in the course of the last thousand years, areas that are now part of the modern region of Picardie have been ruled over at different times by the English, the Habsburgs, the Spanish and the French.

In past centuries, the region was relatively prosperous; its productive farmlands, including a large expanse of flat or relatively flat land, created wealth in local towns and cities, a wealth now reflected in the many fine gothic churches and cathedrals of the region.

Agriculture, particularly in the northern part of the region revolves around cereals and crops. And while cereal production is the principal agricultural activity of the region, Picardie is also the leading French region for the production of sugar beet, France being the world's largest producer of sugar beet.

And if you're wondering what mouth watering treats await in Picardie, expect cider, pancakes, deliciously fresh seafood, foie gras, chantilly cream, leek tart, rissoles and pre-salé lamb (raised on the salt marshes) as these are the specialities of this varied regional gastronomy.