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Amiens and the Underground City of Naours

Taking the train from Gare du Nord, Amiens is a 1h15 ride from Paris. We spent one week-end with friends living and working here. It was a cloudy and rainy Saturday with almost no one in the streets. But it is winter and the weather calls for a stay-in kind of day so I do not blame them. The highlight wasn’t the number of people going around though, you cannot expect any other city to be as busy as Parisian streets, but this city has a grandeur of its own.

You will find its grand Cathedral where inside, is a high ceiling decorated by a few stained glass windows, all of which depict some story. What interested me the most though, are the mini wooden scupltures mounted on the walls. In other cathedrals you will most likely find paintings on the wall, but not here, they were little sculptures, with different planes: a foreground a middle scene and a background, depicting yet more numerous stories. I might not know these stories but these scupltures are what I think set this particular cathedral apart from the others I’ve seen. They were a marvel to look at.

I can’t really say that ‘it’s different from the France I saw’ because I’ve only really seen Paris and Nantes. But I was surprised to see a few canals which reminded me of Venice and Amsterdam. There were colorful and brick buildings and nice cute boutiques.

This made me realise that I prefer seeing the old cities because it reminds me of how the people before spent more time in their craft. I also like the minimalist feel of the modern house but there is more warmth in a place like this. I am not all amazed by skyscrapers, I will always chose the cozy old village than tall buildings.

I know there is so much story in this city especially during the time of war. Which brought us to Naours, where you will find an underground city. People used this as shelter during the war. This particular cave was just 33 meters from the ground so anyone with a mini case of claustrophobia should be able to handle it. They have bed chambers, a church, even a space for the animals. It was very interesting to know how people have built this and more interestingly and grim, is how they were able to stay here for weeks without seeing the sun. It is a scary thought, but then again, the danger of dying during the war would be scarier that you would do everything just to survive, even leaving the sun behind. It reminded me of the movie ‘Downsizing’ where some people have descended into a similar underground city equipped with everything that you might need, except sunlight. Imagine in the old days where there were less technology to create a more comfortable habitat. It’s hard to imagine now since we’re all used to the comfort of a cozy home, having the sun just outside the window whenever we want to see and feel it. You’ll never know the value of anything until you lose it, or when you don’t have it yet. I cannot imagine not seeing the sun for days, or even just the sky. It would drive me nuts. But this underground city is an ingenious creation of man to survive against all odds.

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