A plethora of museums, parks and marvellous architecture make Saint Quentin in Picardy a fabulous destination for a day trip or weekend break. It also makes for a great base to explore the surrounding area.
Saint-Quentin lies between Calais and Reims in Champagne and was founded by the Romans. During the middle ages it was a major trading centre. The town suffered from extensive damage during both World Wars but many buildings have been wonderfully restored and the subsequent art deco style is superb.
Town of Art and History
Saint-Quentin is a great little town in which to immerse yourself in the culture of France. Art deco fans will adore the streets lined with beautifully detailed buildings. Pick up an audio guide tour pack from the tourist office and wander. You’ll see the grand hall of the Post Office, Le Carillon Cinema, the lanterns of the Pont d’Isle and the Conservatoire de Musique et de Théâtre amongst much else. On the edge of the imposing and magnificent central Place is the ancient Hotel de Ville. Ornamented with 173 statues which represent scenes of life in the town, and inside it has a very impressive art deco interior. Its bell tower was rebuilt in the 18th century and a carillon of 37 bells make a marvellous musical backdrop to daily life.
The medieval Gothic Basilica of Saint Quentin, built between the 12th and 15th centuries, is enormous, bigger than the the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. It is the burial place of Saint Quentin after whom the town was named. Building began in the 12th century but most of the architecture dates to the 15th century.
The Musée Antoine-Lécuyer holds an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures, including 100 portraits by Quentin de la Tour (1704-1788) who lived and died in the town. The famous French Rococo portraitist painted the great and the glorious of his day, including Louix XV, Madame de Pompadour and Voltaire.
Where to eat out in Saint Quentin
The town has a great café lifestyle. There are plenty of restaurants and bars. If you just want a coffee break, try L’Artisanes by the Hotel de Ville and enjoy the sound of the bells as you sip coffee made by a finalist in the best coffee roasters of France competition! Or take a hop back in time and stop off at retro café Les Biscuits Mademoiselle, in a biscuit factory, with music and style of the 1920s.
Locals love: Lunch at Le Boudoir, run by a husband and wife team, it’s friendly cosy and delicious bistro style menu. The Auberge de l’Ermitage is also popular, elegant, refined dishes, great value and very French. For a snack, try the local favourite, a Ficelle Picarde (Picardy String), so called as it is a pancake filled with ham, cheese and mushroom sauce, rolled into a long sausage shape and baked in the oven. Utterly delicious!
On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, the city hums to the sound of the market where you can shop for scrumptious French delicacies and local produce.