Oh my goodness, what a completely, totally fun weekend we just had! Seriously, it was a blast! I am pretty sure that past experience has definitely taught me a thing or two when it comes to the "weekend adventure event planning" role. A few months back, I would have chosen a pretty town with long walks for a family weekend adventure. But now I know better. "Pretty" lasts only as long as the toddler tummy is full and a "long" walk only lasts as long as the first kid who complains. After any of these two items fails, it is a slow spiral downward for all concerned. So this time, I chose a weekend adventure that was sure to captivate even the hungriest of tummies and the weakest of legs.
I had to choose a road trip that was far enough away to make an overnight stay at a hotel worthy, but not too far that the girls would become antsy during the drive, even with a DVD player at their disposal. After briefly looking at a Google map of France, I saw a bolded town with the name of Amiens to the east of Caen. So I then looked up the city website of Amiens and voila! TONS to see and do in this area. I scrolled through a long list of local attractions but ultimately decided on two specific places: The Samara Park and the Cite Souterraine de Naorn with an overnight stay in Amiens.
For a day or two, I had been talking up this adventurous weekend. Our first planned stop, the Samara Park, sounded interesting because it was a site wholly dedicated to educating children and adults about the ways of life dating all the way back 600,000 years ago! I had seen there was a park on the premises, so even if this site were a dud, at least the park was there to entertain. But the whole place was a success. The Samara Park was very pretty and interesting. To start, there were ancient dwellings made of leather and sticks. There was a walkway made out of tree posts. And there was a labriynth garden, which the girls absolutely loved. And mind you, I haven't even mentioned yet that it was a rainy, dreary, chilly day because we didn't mind it at all! There were no crowds, the rain was just barely a drizzle, and each couple of steps intrigued all of our curiosities.
What the girls enjoyed the most about The Samara Park were the interactive demonstrations. There were real people demonstrating how people lived hundreds and thousands of years ago. And what Andrew and I enjoyed the most was watching how interested the girls were with everything they saw.
(Pictured above: a woman making mosiac decorations with rock pieces)
(Pictured above: a man making pottery)
(Pictured above: The girls digging like archeologists looking for bones and fossils)
(Pictured above: A man demonstrating how to chip away at a rock (silex) to make a sharp edge for removing hair from animal hydes and for cutting, also used to make chalk)
(Pictured above: A man shows how armor was made with iron, hot fires and patience)
(Pictured above: A woman starts a fire with silex, mushroom shavings and hay)
(Pictured above: The girls paint on rocks as cavemen once did thousands of years ago)
(Pictured above: A woman makes Galettes with flour and water and cooks them in the hot ashes. We tasted and they were good!)
(Pictured above: I try my hand at throwing a spear and came really close to the target - a hay pile, not an animal!)
I think you get the point! We had a great time, took tons of pictures and I would recommend this place to anyone - young and old. And there was a ton we didn't even get a chance to see.
This town was really nice. We arrived at night after a long day at Samara so all we really did was grab a quick bite to eat and hit the hay. But the next morning, we got up and took a nice walk around the city. The streets were very wide and pretty with many of them blocked off for only pedestrians. There were many beautiful old churches and lots of pretty gardens and fountains. My favorite part of Amiens was the beautiful cathedral. It is known as the, "Parthenon of Gothic Architecture" and it is just beautiful. The details on the exterior and the height were breathtaking.
There was a lot in Amiens that we didn't get a chance to see. As we left on Sunday morning to get to our next adventure destination, I saw tons of signs and sights that I yearned to stop and see. But you just don't have the flexibility with three young children. I would love to go back some day and see the rest that Amiens has to offer.
La Cite Souterraine de Naours:
Our next and final stop was an underground city located in Naours, France. It is a real city that is located 33 meters below ground level. This city was created as a place of refuge for nearby city inhabitants in times of war. From what I can decipher on the French website, this underground city dates back to at least 1618.
It was really dark, as you might expect, in this underground city. We listened to handheld radios as it guided us from one room to the next. They gave us a wind-up flashlight to use for anyone needing some extra light (and wouldn't you know it, all of them wanted the one flashlight). It was amazing to see that families lived in these small cavelike rooms beneath the ground with up to 2000 people at a time. I get a little anxious and panicky just thinking about it. Imagine never leaving this dark, cold place for months at a time. Ahh! Anyway, it was really neat and if war disaster strikes while we are living here in France, I know exactly where we are going to head for protection - Naours! I am not sure if my pictures will do this place justice, hopefully they do.
(Pictured above: During wartime, this place was used to care for wounded British soldiers)
(Pictured above: The girls and Andrew listen to the audio describing the underground room they are visiting)
(Pictured above: These tiny rooms actually had room numbers posted on the outside walls)
(Pictured above: Ella finding her way through a dark hallway)
The underground city tour was very interesting...but guess what. There was also a huge park and animals and windmills on the grounds that we discovered just after the tour that I believe became the favorite part of the day for all involved.
We really did have a great weekend. One of those that will be talked about by all of us for many years to come.