What to See & Do in Saint-Quentin|
The Basilica should be your first stop. After that, the spacious Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, and the Art Deco residential and commercial areas....|
Founded by the Romans during the reign of Caesar Augustus as Augusta Viromanduorum, the city occupies a strategic position at a ford of the River Somme.
A Roman Christian named Quentin came here to evanglize, and was martyred in the city. During the Middle Ages (800s), pilgrims came to pay homage to the martyr, and a new town, named for the saint, grew at the river ford.
Because of its strategic location on several travel routes, Saint-Quentin prospered from commerce and manufacturing, but the location turned to a disadvantage when armies came marching through in the 1300s—and later, all the way up to World War II.
Basilique de Saint-Quentin
The Basilique de Saint-Quentin is the largest religious building in Picardy after the gigantic Cathédrale d'Amiens, the largest cathedral in France. (Though large, the basilica is not a cathedral because it is not the seat of a diocese and an archbishop.)
The first religious building on this site dates from the Roman period (300s), to be followed by a number of other structures up to the 1100s and 1400s, when the present basilica was built in honor of Saint-Quentin.
Badly damaged by bombing in World War I, the church was reconstructed and reopened in 1956.
Some of the stained glass windows from the 1200s survived the centuries of destruction and have been reinstalled. Modern windows replace the old ones that were obliterated by war.
Place de l'Hôtel de Ville
The Gothic-style Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) towers over the north side of this spacious central square. You'll hear its famous carillon of 37 bells ring the hours throughout the day. Inside, the Salle de Mariage has sumptuous Renaissance-style decoration, while the City Council chamber is pure Art Deco from 1925.
Other Art Deco buildings look onto the square, and the fine Art Deco Office de Tourisme is just around the corner on Rue de Petit Butin (map).
Art Deco Architecture
Start at the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, then wander the streets of Saint-Quentin to see its interwar Art Deco domestic and commercial architecture.
Among its monumental Art Deco structures is the War Memorial on the south bank of the River Somme, not far from the Gare de Saint-Quentin train station (map).