As we are only 16 days away from the Rally, I thought it would be nice to find out a bit more about the first stop in our journey – the beautiful town of Soissons in northern France located near the Aisne River.
There’s so much to see and do in Soissons. So if you’re lucky enough to arrive early and fancy exploring the sights, here’s a top 5 list of things to see below. Enjoy! Don’t forget to take some photos too and share them on this blog.
The abbey was founded on St. John’s hill in 1076 by Hughes Le Blanc for a community of Augustinian Canons.
Cathedrale Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais
The graceful southern transept, the oldest portion of the whole edifice, terminates in an apse. Unlike the rest of the building, it is divided inside into four (rather than three) levels. The choir end of the cathedral has stained glass from the 13th century. A tapestry from the 15th century depicts the life of the martyrs Gervasius and Protasius, the patron saints of the cathedral. Rubens’ Adoration of the Shepherds hangs in the northern
transept, as does a painting by Philippe de Champaigne.
Some of the stained glass windows from the Cathedrale de Soissons are on permanent exhibit at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA.
Espace Pierres Folles
A 2 hectare museum with geological exhibits and a botanical garden.
The museum was established in 1987 on the former site of a cement works. Its ground floor presents the Earth’s formation, emergence of life and its evolution over time, and fossils of the region; it also contains several aquariums. The second floor presents the relationship between soil and vegetation, including viticulture with the origin of the diversity of Beaujolais wine.
The geological trail was established in 1988, and consists of four sites reflecting the region’s geology, particularly of fossils and strata from 195-245 million years ago. The trail contains informative displays designed by students of the College des Quatre Vents.
The botanical garden was inaugurated in April 1995 and is a member of Jardins Botaniques de France et des Pays Francophones. It covers 8400 m² and as of 2007 contained 529 plant species, including 567 taxa of herbaceous plants and 8 taxa of conifers, focusing on local flora, particularly those of the clay and limestone soil of southern Beaujolais, but also including Mediterranean plants and a few non-native trees such as Atlas cedar and walnut. The garden consists of three flowerbeds, landscaped plantings, a sandy area for heathers, and a rock garden. Each species is labeled with its botanical family, scientific name, and common name.
Awarded the Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor, this is a small family run Italian restaurant in the centre of Soissons.
Reviews have said;
“possibly the best Italian restaurant I’ve ever been to”
“the food is delicious”
“best service we have ever had”
“the pasta was cooked al dente”
“great selection of local wines”
Awarded the Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor, this restaurant/ tea room offers a homely feel with local cuisine.
Reviews have said;
“very friendly staff, extremely tasty food, nice atmosphere and not expensive”
“a classic small menu but all done to a high standard”
“a lovely little spot near the cathedral with tables outside on nice days”